Stores are open...what now?

Throughout the pandemic, we saw the reliance on online shopping increase at an accelerated speed. However, as non-essential retail has re-opened again in the UK, online sales growth is slowing down and unfortunately there is no time for e-commerce brands to relax. "Overall sales growth for the month of April was also below the rolling three-, six- and 12-month averages of 50.4%, 50.1% and 49.8% respectively."

Girl with note

Retail and e-commerce remain more competitive and turbulent than ever. Keeping customers engaged is going to be even more important than it has been previously and human connection is crucial to engagement and loyalty.

We hope that 2021 is going to be a great year for retail but consumers are going to be turning their cash towards things such as leisure, hospitality & holidays. Being prepared for this will make the journey a lot smoother.  

There are two parts to this blog, both equally as important as each other (in my opinion anyway): Firstly, why is human connection so important in retail, even after stores have opened again. And secondly, how to stay prepared and fit for the jungle that is the retail industry.

Without stores open, human connection between brand and customers has been harder to achieve. Does this matter? Well, yes it does. We at Inkpact know that human connection is the most powerful way to get your customer to make a choice or take an action. It is not just about the in-store experience. Your connection with your customers needs to be remembered across all channels to achieve a memorable experience that makes you stand out.

Brands have had to find new ways to create a human connection with their customers and it doesn’t all have to be face-to-face, over the phone or even through an email which risks going straight to spam. (Perhaps a genuinely handwritten note with your own branded stationery, written by real people and sent to your customers at mass scale would do the trick – that’s just a suggestion though).

With new technologies all over the place, such as augmented and virtual reality, retail needs to keep up to create a CX that younger generations and press are interested in. However, all the technology in the world will not remove the overwhelming desire and power of human connection within CX. Brands have civil duties now to contribute to their customers lives and to society, there is no space for passive brands anymore.

According to PwC, 75% of customers report that, as technology becomes more pervasive, they want more human interaction, not less. And yet 64% feel companies have lost touch with the human element of their interface with customers.

 Use this technology to help contribute to the human side of your customer experience, not take away from it.

John Stones says, "Many companies are investing huge sums in CRM, but are still getting it badly wrong as an over-reliance on technology offering solutions to human problems is alienating customers," and we agree with him. Stop spending loads of money on CRM and marketing that isn't achieving what we know to be crucial. Paul Gordon, managing director of advertising agency CCHM, agrees: “CRM should be the basis of how a brand relates to it's customers and so give the benefits of a stronger emotional commitment to that brand, with obvious commercial benefits such as retention, cross-sell and up-sell. However, in practice, it’s been hijacked by the technology companies which understand what technology can do but not what brands mean.” 

Inkpact are fighting against hijackers and pointing out that we really can help you relate to your customers and ensure commercial benefits. We have helped the likes of Orlebar Brown get a 52% increase in second purchases or Gymshark see a 49% increase in redemptions. You can find out more about these specific campaigns on our website or speak to one of our team.

There are a lot of brands out there doing things right in order to ensure they are prepared and fit for the jungle that is the retail industry. These brands have been spotlighted continuously by Retail Week.

Here are some of the things we want to highlight to you to ensure you are standing out and also to remind you that there is loads as a retailer you can be doing to drive differentiation, online sales, sustainable competitive advantage & customer lifetime value. 

Human Connection Logo

1. Take a multi-channel approach. Online shopping is crucial but having a seamless customer experience across all channels is vital. Regardless of which channel you are using, engaging with your customers in a meaningful and human way is going to make you stand out.

2. Create a community. We particularly like that this is becoming something brands are taking seriously. After a year which has lacked interaction, the community you create as a brand could be what makes a customer stick with you. Community does not need to be in-person or a lot of work. It could simply be reminding customers that you value them and that you are still there. 

 3. Showcase your new products and services. People are bored and looking for new things to do and products to buy. Let them know you are there and that you have new things to offer. This could be through a retention campaign, showing lapsed customers all the new things they simply can't miss out on. Click here to see results from some of our retention and win-back campaigns. 

4. Enhance your customer experience. Experiential retail has been spoken about for a long time now. However, the pandemic meant this was halted slightly. Outdoor retailer REI will open a new store in Jackson, Wyoming this summer that will offer workshops, rentals, repairs, and a whole host of experiences from kayaking to hiking. However, creating a good customer experience does not need to be in-person. We provide a great way to create memorable moments for your customers, and no one even has to leave the house. 

5. Marketing? Traditional marketing remains important. If it isn't broken, don't fix it right? However, what you can do is add to it. Gen Z are a crucial audience for retailers. Consider what channels they are engaging with most. However, let's remind ourselves that just like the older generations, young people are getting bombarded with advertising on various channels and as concentration and dwell time decreases, new ways to get noticed by your younger customers must be considered.

Gosh, it gets tiring trying to keep up with everything.

If you would like to find out how you can make your customer experience and journey memorable, Click here to book a call with our experts.

Annie Muggoch, Marketing Executive, Inkpact. 




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