Friday Feb 20, 2015

Look Beyond Marketing When Considering Customer Experience by Gib Bassett

Most people think Customer Experience is about marketing, or the activities associated with the last mile of the shopping journey. However this misses the bigger picture of many factors that support a successful customer experience.

A great example of a company doing it right is 7-Eleven. As shown in this video, 7-Eleven leverages a common foundation for what it calls the “digital guest experience,” as well as its merchandising and accounting systems. In this way, 7-Eleven serves its customers personalized and mobile in-store offers. Where it goes beyond is in applying purchasing and behavioral insights to its merchandising and assortment strategies.

Less forward-thinking retailers could take a lesson from 7-Eleven’s approach. Consider the case of specialty retailer Wet Seal. I have followed Wet Seal for a few years – the company has been very progressive in its use of in-store mobile and social shopper engagement.

So I was surprised by recent news that the company was closing two-thirds of its stores. Reportedly, Wet Seal struggled to keep pace with fashion trends (style and price) – and experienced reduced foot traffic in the malls where it invested. Given their progressive shopper engagement practices, and the data and insights these efforts generate, I would have thought Wet Seal was in a better position to foresee changes in its customersand make different decisions regarding merchandise and assortments.

Wet Seal is not alone. Without an analytics-first approach to consumer engagement that encapsulates all facets of customer experience, retailers run the risk of focusing too heavily on the marketing aspect of the shopping journey.

For example, with deep analytics, Wet Seal would have noticed changes in customer behavior, such as greater price sensitivity, and merchandise indicators such as social chatter about preferences for competitor assortments. With such predictors of change in hand, Wet Seal could have altered pricing, promotion and assortments to stay ahead of customer preferences.

We should first accept that all shoppers are demonstrating connected behaviors, which make it essential and easy to understand what’s happening with them digitally. That’s certainly the case with 7-Eleven’s customers. Mobile and social channels can help shoppers navigate deals, alternatives and new customer experiences. Retailers can use this information to stay a step ahead.

In summary, retail customer experience should be based on an integrated view of the various business operations that support the customer’s experience. Marketing, store operations, online sales, merchandising, inventory, and service should operate off the same view of the customer providing agility and deep business intelligence.

Gib Bassett

CPG and Retail Industry Principal

Twitter @gibbassett

Monday Nov 12, 2012

P-Commerce – What The Heck Is That?

We’ve heard of e-commerce, m-commerce (Mobile Commerce), and f-commerce (Facebook Commerce) but what is p-commerce?  It’s not truly a customer touchpoint or channel but the emphasis on personalization of the buying experience.

Ask yourself how well do you know your customer?  Are you able to take what you know about them and apply it to their commerce activity with you and personalize the shopping experience?

Much of this is dictated by have a complete 360 degree view of your customer, collecting data from your website, sales interactions, historical commerce purchases, call center activity, how they got to your website, etc. and applying it to their current commerce interaction.  Customers expect to have a similar interaction on your website as they would in your brick-and-mortar store, displaying the products and services that they might be interested in purchasing.

Thursday May 31, 2012

“Big Data” Is A Small Concept Unless You Can Apply It To The Customer Experience

There’s been a lot of recent talk in the industry about “big data”.  Much can be said about the importance of big data and the results from it, but you need to always consider the customer experience when analyzing and applying customer data.

Personalization and merchandising drive the user experience.  Big data should enable you to gain valuable insight into each of your customers and apply that insight at the moment they are on your Web site, talking to one of your call center agents, or any other touchpoint.  While past customer experience is important, you need to combine that with what your customer is doing on your Web site now as well what they are doing and saying on social networking sites.  It’s key to have a 360 degree view of your customer across all of your touchpoints in order to provide that relevant and consistent experience that they come to expect when interacting with your brand.

Big data can enable you to effectively market, merchandize, and recommend the right products to the right customers and the right time.  By taking customer data and applying it to product recommendations, you have an opportunity to gain a greater share of wallet through the cross-selling and up-selling of additional products and services.  You can also build sustaining loyalty programs to continue to engage with your customers throughout their long-term relationship with your brand.

Thursday Mar 15, 2012

Less Can Be More In E-Commerce

Today’s consumers are inundated with product choices and vendors. Visit your favorite electronics retailer and see the vast assortment of flat panel televisions. Or the variety of detergents at the supermarket. All of this can be daunting for the average consumer who is looking for the products and services that interest them.

 In a study titled “Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing”, the author, Sheena Iyengar found that participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been limited.

The same can be said for e-commerce and your website. Being able to quickly convert shoppers into buyers with effective merchandising is what makes leading businesses successful. You want to engage each individual visitor with the most-relevant content to drive higher conversions and order values while decreasing abandonment, but predicting what will resonate with each customer is difficult.

In a world of choices, online merchandizing tools can help personalize, streamline, and refine what your customers view when they browse your online catalog. The key to being effective is to align your products and content as closely as possible with the customer’s needs.

The goal on the home page is to promote your brand and push visitors farther into the site. The home page is often the starting point for repeat customers as well as for new visitors hoping to address their current product needs. As the customer selects different filters and narrows the choices, valuable information is being provided to the retailer about the customer’s current need—regardless of previous search behavior or what other customers with a similar demographic profile have purchased.

Together with search pages, category browse pages are among the primary options available to customers as a means of finding products on your site. Once a customer reaches the product detail page, it is clear what that person desires, regardless of the segment the customer falls into. However, don’t disregard campaign-based promotions completely. A campaign targeted to all customers but featuring rule-driven promotions tied to the product can be effective.

Click here to learn more about merchandizing techniques so what your customer sees if half full and not half empty.

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