Tips to increase customer engagement in retail

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Increasing customer engagement should be the goal of every retailer. In order to accomplish this, retailers need to connect with customers across many channels while keeping an eye on what customers perceive as value, brand consistency and the overall customer experience. That means delivering a unique and personalized experience for customers inside physical locations while incorporating innovative e-commerce hooks that make you stand out. Here are some tips to get customers talking, interacting and commenting on your business to help fuel your retail transformation.
Connect With Customers as They Step into the Door
For brick-and-mortar stores, it’s important to engage customers as soon as they step into the door. The fact that 75 per cent of customers are using their mobile devices in-store — with many using them to compare prices or look at reviews — means that you might be losing a certain amount of engagement to the online world even if customers are physically in your store.
That’s why you need to get your message to the customer’s smartphone through mobile commerce (m-commerce) strategies before anyone else does. This can be accomplished with in-store beacons. These beacons provide geo-targeted  advertising, discounts and coupons that help customers stay engaged in your self-contained universe. If you are thinking about investing in beacons, make sure you send relevant, personalized information or you will not find the expected engagement.
Gamestop offers a great example of how companies can create a digital/real-world customer experience in-store. The major video game retailer offers customers augmented reality through an in-store app that allows them to take photos with video game characters on their devices. Gamestop also ties this to its loyalty program, which is only available to customers who shop in-store.
On top of that, as soon as customers step into the store, they are presented with a variety of recommendations for games they might like as well as deals exclusively available to these targeted customers on their devices, which illustrates how m-commerce can create a deeper customer engagement experience.
Jumpstart E-Commerce With S-Commerce
While physical store locations are incredibly important, many companies need to keep their eye on the fast-growing world of e-commerce. The best way to do this is to stop marketing and start engaging with customers. With social commerce (s-commerce) you can create a conversation around your brand that fuels customer engagement online.
Here are some innovative ways to increase social engagement for your business:

  • Use Periscope, an app that allows you to live stream video through Facebook and Twitter. It’s great for new product launches, in-store events and product demos. Schedule these events in advance, and get your customers excited enough to tune in.
  • Get personal with customers and create an ecosystem where your company is the focus. Mention specific customers who are talking about your brand with the “@” reply function on Twitter so they get a bit of recognition. On Facebook, tag customers who like your products, cross-promote with other brands, and give out rewards to random customers who like or comment on your business.
  • Leverage m-commerce with s-commerce strategies. For example, if you’re an apparel retailer, encourage customers to take photos of the clothes they try on to share with friends and family online.
  • Use photos as much as possible. On Facebook, studies have shown that photos are by far the most engaging content, generating an 87 per cent interaction rate from users. Posts with only text or links performed poorly, with the highest interaction rate for these types of posts at 4 percent, well short of photos.
  • Social media is increasingly a place where customers voice complaints and concerns, and 42 per cent of customers now expect a reply within one hour of a complaint. It’s important to stay on top of all customer comments so that customers feel like their voices are being heard.

If some of these tips are still a bit far from the reality of your stores, maybe you should think about upgrading your legacy systems, since good customer service needs to be supported by next generation point-of-sale. Examples of basic functionalities that will empower your store associates are cross-store stock visibility, detailed customer information, rich product search or mobile capabilities.
marco-openbravoAbout The Author: Marco de Vries is the Chief Executive Officer of Openbravo. Marco has been active in the technology and software space for almost two decades. He joined Openbravo in 2006 as CFO – responsible for investor fundraising, finance, accounting, HCM and legal affairs. In 2012 Marco was appointed CEO of Openbravo. Prior to Openbravo, Marco held a COO role for GEC, a leading Spanish integrated solutions provider in the online communities, e-learning and corporate learning space. He played a key role in driving growth acceleration resulting in profitability and market leadership for the company. Earlier in his career Marco worked for top-tier consultancy firms A.T. Kearney and DiamondCluster, which was later acquired by Oliver Wyman, where he worked mainly for Fortune 1000 companies. As a consultant Marco focused primarily on corporate and business strategies and new business launches in the mobile telephony space across Europe.

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