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Customer Retention in the Age of Brick-and-Click Business: Are You Ready?

by | 7. June 2018

According to research and marketing communications at App Annie, mobile has taken over the U.S. retail market. Danielle Levitas, SVP of the analytics and intelligence company explains how well U.S. retail businesses are doing in comparison to their abroad counterparts. U.S. consumers spent more time in bricks-and-clicks apps by more than 55 percent. Abroad, usage grew by 40 percent. This means something for the future of customer retention and acquisition.

The disruption of mobile on the retail industry had been long coming—and long predicted. What’s on the horizon for the bricks-and-clicks space?

Levitas predicts that mobile apps are a chance for brands to capitalize on engaging customer loyalty and retention. The other wave in customer service innovation include retail chatbots. U.S-based department store, Macy’s is integrating IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence to create a personal shopping assistant. It could signal the beginning of yet another opportunity for retailers to gain a competitive edge in engaging with customers. In fact, artificial technology is motivating companies to take action to remain relevant.

With technology becoming a force of competition, retailers need to be reframe their concept of “store” in the digital century.

“But I’m a small business. Why do I need to think of digitizing my store?”

People have the world at their fingertips; they click and buy with a waiting period of maximum 3 days for an item. Some retailers, like Farfetch, delivers purchases that same afternoon. Digitalization expands where your store goes, who it delivers to, and frees you to rethink how to engage with customer along their buying journey.

“But I don’t really do any business involving shipping. I’m not an Amazon warehouse”.

You may not be Amazon, but the same capabilities are available to you. What’s more important is that you have the chance to interact differently with current or potential customers along their decision-making journey. Like the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”, the brands that frequently interact with users—and that can boast positive interactions—will win more customers.

How can small-business owners take advantage for higher customer retention?

1. Optimize in-store offering

Expand offering and range of products by knowing what the customer wants to order. You can offer an “endless shelf” experience by setting up an iPad or an employee to assist in finding exactly what they’re looking for. You can help them navigate through your site, but also order difficult-to-find items within your industry. This will not only win you customers, but will also provide valuable feedback into what people wish to purchase.

2. Give deep product access

Inform people about your product. Modern consumers want answers to niche questions. Is this made from free trade cotton? Does this lotion contain a certain emollient? What did the reviews say? Present customers the opportunity to learn more about the products your selling. If you’re selling soaps, have an iPad that has an app that scans the ingredient list. Show product reviews. Restaurants that had digital menus informing diners about the food and wine created a 20 percent hike in wine consumption. More information could mean more revenue.

3. Introduce an out-of-the-box app

Apps remain a great channel to stay connected with customers. They present classic marketing strategies, like loyalty programs, with a twist. Let your creativity roam to leverage higher customer acquisition and bolster revenue streams. Check out how you can optimize your app within the app stores. Combine that with other acquisition techniques, apps present a brilliant opportunity to present value to customers without being overly aggressive. To further differentiate from competitors, don’t be afraid to think differently. One Guatemalan shoe store created an app that would send notifications when customers entered stores of a competitor. Their notifications contained price comparisons and discounts. The strategy paid off, in persuading over 600 customers to buy from them. It pays to be a little kooky.

At Shore, we support small business owners to gain an edge in the digital market. We manage the daily, so you can focus on the grind.

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