Two new-age ways for retailers to engage with consumers

By Manish Grover, senior director at Mindtree

As the usage of mobile explodes and the digital revolution moves to take centre stage, retailers are investing to shore up their consumer engagement and commerce capabilities.

One of the key issues retailers face is that once you attract the consumer and invite them in – perhaps with an awesome promotion – the next big challenge is in persuading them to stay. This can be tough and the reality is that unless your customers  find something they identify with that creates stickiness, many wont stay on.

Habits are tough to form but here are two ways where retailers can improve consumer engagement and emerge successfully past the discounts frontier.

1. Being a Partner

Shouting from the rooftop about your offers and products is one route which is commonly pursued. However, this is trumped if you can successfully helping the customers find a solution to what they are looking for. Marketing and positioning are being transformed as these niche practices become more mainstream. The effective management of content and the use of analytics for personalisation and targeting are critical not only to touch consumers but also to invite them in. Consumers feel more confident and better connected with the channel that guides them towards a decision that's right for them. The direct outcome of this kind of engagement is higher profitability because you share the ownership of helping the consumer decide what is right for them. In addition, this approach amplifies the effect of methods such as mobile apps and loyalty cards which are already regularly employed to generate stickiness.

2. Connecting

Branding and promotions are also about associating yourself with an attribute that your customers care about. As you tackle this, the use of effective data driven segmentation to clearly outline the levers you wish to influence are critical. At the base level, grocery store loyalty can be about habit and proximity, while for a department store, loyalty can be a function of fit and price. However, the act of connecting leverages several other emotional factors that make up the consumers identity. Factors such as being eco-friendly, being more contemporary or just being oneself, are critical to identify and apply. Applying them systematically and granularly is one of the keys to consumer engagement.

Both the above strategies are especially critical for retail including  stores, banks, restaurants and other  consumer facing business.  Consumer engagement should be tackled on many fronts – great stores, a good looking website, a more capable mobile app, better inventory control, more commerce options, excellent service, multi-channel interaction and several payment options, the list goes on. However, it is partnership and connecting which will bring all these efforts to fruition.

Consumers today are being presented with several options for every need. In order to succeed, retailers must move beyond promotions around consumer brands and they must enter the realm of direct consumer trust and partnership.

Manish Grover is a senior director at Mindtree

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