Three Powerful Ways to Drive Engagement in Retail

Retailers have been invested in customer engagement for some time now. In the retail world, engagement and positive experiences are necessary to keep consumers loyal. Consumers today will abandon your business if they have bad experiences. Because of the proliferation of retailers and eCommerce, customers have almost too many options for where to shop. Given the speed in which a customer will abandon your business, it can seem like customer loyalty is dead, especially in the retail industry. The solution is to win the fight across the battleground of great customer experience. By applying some of the techniques below, you can make retail customers more engaged, more likely to stay loyal, and to spend more money at your business over time.

Engagement Starts With Knowing your Customers

Tailoring the customer experience to each individual customer drives their engagement and retentionWhen it comes to customer engagement, it’s crucial that you not only be able to communicate with customers but prove you know them and deliver value for their particular wants and needs. This means going beyond marketing personalization efforts such as using their name in your marketing emails. For a clothing retailer, this might mean recognizing that a specific typically buys size 00, or 4, or 16. Then, when new fashions come in that match that particular size profile, you can prove that you know them by recommending clothes that would actually fit them. Alternatively, take a page from a major men’s suit retailer: Keep customer measurements and alteration information on hand in a database so that sales associates can always help customers find their perfect fit. Collecting this data and being able to connect it across your business is also an important part of advancing customer journey maturity at your business. You don’t need to keep specific customer measurements to succeed in knowing your customers, but you do need prove that your business is paying attention to their preferences and desires. 

Interact with Customers While They’re Still In Store

Better retail experiences are built on new technology like a smart mirror systemCustomers may come into your store for many reasons, whether they’re stopping by while shopping at a mall, or have come to get a specific clothing item. Imagine saving time and employee resources by engaging customers in app.  Instead of them asking customers to check the back, try connecting your inventory system to a live mobile app. When a customer scans a QR code next to an item of clothing, you’ll be able to tell them right there what sizes are on the rack, in the back, or not available at all.  You could even take a lesson from Sephora. Their app lets you see how you might look wearing different makeup products. Imagine if you could cut down on how many clothing items people try on before a purchase by allowing them to see themselves in the clothes through an app. Let customers scan clothing items they would like to try on, then send them to a digital dressing room where they can see clothes in their size quickly and without making a mess.  The upfront cost may be significant, but with hours of clean up time saved every day, these systems could pay for themselves in short order. Even if you don’t build a digital dressing room – you can employ emerging technologies to prove incredible value for your customers. 

Give Customers a Reason to Come Back 

Buying a TV is a big decision, but smart engagement programs can make it easier to be a repeat buyerFor most retail businesses, people tend to come when they need something or when there is a sale. But the basis of retail engagement and retention is not coupons, it’s a relationship. Consider electronics retailers. Someone isn’t likely to buy a television every few months, but rather might come in for a large home entertainment project or simply to upgrade their current TV.  This harkens back to knowing your customers, but by looking at how they have shopped in the past, you can help predict and shape how they will shop in the future. Consider if a customer bought a 49 inch television from your business two years ago, and a 45 inch television from you two years before that. Modern technology has advanced, but so have eCommerce options for them to purchase a television somewhere else.  Imagine if you secured their business by offering a free old-electronics pickup with the deliver order of a new television, with a special coupon for a brand new 55 inch screen. Now they don’t have to worry about throwing out their old device – and your business gets a potential PR win too by protecting the environment from the heavy metals in old electronic devices. You don’t have to use this specific tactic to keep customers coming back, but by looking at the patterns of customer behavior, you can make them see the value in staying engaged with your business.

Manage Your Customer Journey for Engagement and Retention

None of the three tips and ideas presented above are a cure-all for your business, but they can be a great place to start thinking about how you drive engagement for your customers.  Moving beyond simple personalization and great deals, you can prove you know your customers, engage them in store, and give them a reason to keep coming back. If you’re interested in learning how to take your customer journey to the next level and achieve true journey optimization, check out our recently updated Customer Journey Maturity Model. It’s loaded with practical advice to help you climb the maturity pyramid.  If you are trying to drive engagement and retention at your business, you’ll need to advance from just starting with customer journeys through the levels to journey orchestration and beyond.