Connected Retail: Redefining customer engagement

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Technology continues to evolve rapidly and new innovations come into play. Connected retail is a platform that provides an integrated, digitally enhanced, in store experience that connects with and involves customers at the juncture of the virtual and physical world. It provides shoppers with a seamless journey – to shop from digital to physical, linking their online and mobile retail experiences with in-store experiences. One can almost foresee the future of retail – retailers connecting with customers through technology to offer a superior experience.
In the world of connected retail, brands will only exist if they create a stronger experience for customers. Customers now have endless options to research and purchase products and services – both online and offline. To keep up with rapid technology growth, companies need to improve their marketing strategies and take a new approach in managing customers.
Technology as a facilitator
With the evolution of technology consumers are present on multiple channels, each offering the marketer more opportunities to know and understand them. A huge database of target customers is floating in the world, today; it is a marketer’s decision to decide on the platform on which to approach consumers. A forward-looking view is imperative here.
Many marketers devise different moves for different targets. This is done with the help of technology. Marketing analytics coupled with understanding and experience decides the key differentiator of a brand.
The Millennial generation presents a huge opportunity for connected retail, since they are present on multiple channels.  This generation is the working population with the desire to lead a good lifestyle and the capacity to buy.
Technology has enabled marketers to gain in-depth knowledge about them; from basic information such as their name, age and address to details like their preferred shopping category, destination, days, desired products and shopping patterns. This is a big benefit for targeted approach to reach the minds of consumers.
Customer Centricity – Creating a seamless experience
Distribution and logistics form one of the most important parts of connected retail. If a person desires to buy your product, you should be available to him. Preferably, near him. Non-availability of products during urgent need becomes one of the major reasons for a consumer to opt for an alternative. Apart from marketing a product in every space possible, it should also be made available in every space possible.
In the current era, user experience is an important source for improvisation of products. If one intends to provide a seamless experience, user feedback is valuable to comprehend enhancements required in the product and service delivery. Marketers should take an effort to make sure that every unique feedback is recorded and taken into consideration.
A consumer buying online or in a physical store, each one should feel that the buying experience was smooth and without any glitches.
Equipping workforce to adopt change
Employees working for a brand – the most important asset and the most important link in connected retail.
Although customer service has gained the attention of all the marketers devising strategies for a brand, it is also one of the ignored areas when it comes to adapting change.
Rapid and continuous changes in customer behavior are evident in the feedback they share. This results in many changes at the customer interaction levels. After a period of time, there is a possibility of bringing in disruptive changes in the organization. This can be through technology or physical interaction with customers or in operations.
Management should not only announce the changes but facilitate the employees in adapting these changes. The management should try to be a part of such initiatives along with the employees. A well-informed and well-trained employee who feels like a part of the organization will provide the best service possible.
A shop representative who understands the brand well and knows the mind-set of target customers will provide the best service possible.
A complete experience
Connected retail, by definition, means involving consumers at an intersection of physical and virtual world. However, many marketers think of it as only physical stores and online stores. Connected retail is much more, it is a combination of technology, operations, people and a profound understanding of the consumer.
dhruva-chandrie-coo-shopCJ-networkAbout The Author: Dhruva Chandrie is the COO of Shop CJ Network. The views and ideas expressed in this article are his own.

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