STORES Magazine - April 2011 - (Page 64)

THE LAST THIS / CONSIDER LAUGHPOV Building the Digital Customer Experience — Brick by Brick BY SAURABH MITTAL There is a revolution brewing in the retail industry. Accessible cutting-edge digital technologies to engage shoppers and provide them with a superior customer experience, changing social behavior, integration of markets, blurring of lines between products and services — all of these are having an unprecedented impact on retail. There is tremendous opportunity for the industry to bring channels, touchpoints and experiences together and differentiate themselves with a well-designed cross-channel experience for customers. For now it seems customers are leading the process, challenging brands and organizations with their insatiable appetites to play with these technologies. Channels and touchpoints are proliferating and the number of “smart” access devices has grown; the biggest challenge is to leverage smart technology to redefine and reinvent customer relationships. Retailers need to segment, understand their customers using predictive analytics, use data to determine and optimize their market-mix model and change their messaging depending on channel preference. and on-demand analytics. You can’t have a monologue with your customer — it has to be a dialogue. A meaningful dialogue is not easily achieved; serious investments are required, as customers need to perceive value before committing their time and energy. You have to have deep customer memory — know your customer’s decision drivers, spending patterns, brand preferences, channel preferences, social influencers and peer behavior. Better customer connection is a direct outcome of the quality of insight that can be achieved through the intelligent layering of information. Saurabh Mittal heads the customer experience consulting practice and is a leader of business advisory services at Wipro. Smartphones have the ability to bring it all together — and most of the innovation seems to be happening via third-party applications at the moment. Much has been written about the merits of promoting cross-channel behavior amongst customers, but not enough thought has been given to enabling the same capabilities on the retailers’ part. The fact that I can interact in a bricks-and-mortar store with a handheld device that carries my social network along with several other shopping applications is a powerful proposition, and creates scenarios for customer experience innovation. Customers want their shopping experiences to be lively, colorful, experiential and immersive. Retailers need to build more intelligence into their shopping initiatives to offer a personalized experience where the customer feels more connected to the brand. The key is customer insight, which comes from continuous interaction, data capture 64 STORES / APRIL 2011 Enabling retailers Retail must use digital media to share information, enhance brands, introduce new products, price merchandise, run promotions and offer group shopping deals; it needs to let its business processes embrace social media and mobile technology in all aspects and let them “learn” interactively from customers. Today’s technology has listening tools that can pick up sentiment data, changing customer preferences and information on competitors, as well as enable creative analytics to provide retailers with the edge they need to differentiate in the marketplace. To build this nimble customer-centric retail organization, it is imperative to deal with organization structures and core business processes in a more open environment. They all should be given the freedom to experiment, innovate and interact with the customers instead of letting them operate in myopic, controlled environments of limited intelligence. The critical questions that leaders of tomorrow’s retail operations need to answer is, “How do I enable my organization to learn from customers directly, and how do I get my customers to engage with my organization intimately?” WWW.STORES.ORG Using technology to connect with customers http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - April 2011

Stores Magazine - April 2011
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail People
Chain of Uncertainty
Digital Couponing
Energy Management
Social Media
Cross-Channel Metrics
Broadband Bonding
Workforce Management
Alternative Payments
Divisional Update
NRF News
Point of View
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES Magazine - April 2011