All of us we have had the unfortunate experience of going to a store and encountering a salesperson who is unable to give us expert advice about a product or service. It’s not because salesperson is unwilling to help us, but rather because he or she does not know in enough about the products the company sells.
In fact, the Retail in Belgium survey carried out by Vlerick Business School and Insites Consulting revealed that "not less than 44 percent of consumers feel they know more than the seller about [a]product, after searching online information.” I’m sure these numbers are similar in other countries.
Another challenge for in-store sales is managing the peaks and uneven shopping traffic throughout the day, week or year while having enough competent salespeople for floor coverage.
Are brick-and-mortar operators losing ground over what was considered their strength to ecommerce – expert knowledge? Fortunately, it’s not a bleak as it appears. Traditional retailers have options, but they must be innovative and aggressive to challenge current trends.
Data management and analytics to the rescue
We know that shoppers often use the web to research products before visiting a store, but how can retailers add value once shoppers enter the store? That's where contextual marketing play an important role.
Recent technologies such as iBeacons and wi-fi tracking enable retailers to recognize and accurately locate customers as they travel through a store. The next step is persuading a customer to download and enable an app that allows a retailer to better understand individual shopping behavior. The enticement for shoppers is that retailers can make in-store offers in real time via push notifications.
For price-conscious shoppers, downloading an app means they won’t miss out on any promotions. For others, the incentive is learning about new products or offering an improved shopping experience. Being able to meet these goals requires detailed knowledge of individual buying motives. Customer segmentation and creating a customer typology will help.
Once your tracking strategies are enabled, centralized data management for phygitals, both physical and digital data sources, will improve the level of service. The app enables a store to recognize when a shopper enters the store, and using the customer’s transactional history and other data (such as recent online research on the company website), the retailer can improve and enhance the customer experience.
For example, using recommendation engines, you can propose related products based on its location in the store. And all this in real time please because in this context, "right time is real time." If you want to know more about how predictive analytics makes offers more relevant, do not hesitate any longer and read the excellent blog post written by my colleague Adrian Carr about the topic.
The application can also be used by customers to request product/service assistance during their store visit. The sales staff can quickly access information about the customer to better respond to their inquiries.
Needless to say, a customer needs to have a positive initial experience with the app or it will become just another unused app on their smartphone.
If you want to find more information about how SAS enhances the customer experience through contextual marketing, have a look at SAS® Real-Time Decision Manager. You can also look at our Customer Decision Hub approach to managing customer interactions across all channels.