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Exploring the Customer Experience In-Store & Online

SAP Radio: Coffee Break with Retail Experience Game-Changers

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Jul 30, 2012 9:45:00 AM

This is a 4 minute read.

Coffee Break Game Changers 2012

On July 25, 2012 I participated in Coffee Break with Game-Changers, a live weekly one-hour Internet radio series on VoiceAmerica.com Business Channel, produced by SAP with host Bonnie D. Graham. It's available on demand and has grown (as of March 2012) to ~23,000 total global listens [live plus on-demand] per month.

The game-changing topic we discussed on 7/25/12: Retailers we love to love: building brand loyalty [aka the Retail Experience]. Participating with me were: 

The program, which consists of a thought leadership panel discussion, started with quotes from each of the panelists. I've included them here as they give you a taste for the range of expertise represented in this panel and for the retail experience ideas we touched on: 

  • Christine B. Whittemore: “The winners in retail today are retailers who understand that the customer calls the shots. Few retailers can compete strictly on price...”
  • Brian Kilcourse: “Retailers have a big opportunity to re-define the in-store experience by making it a part of the world that today’s consumers operate in.”
  • Lisa Joy Rosner: “Where business intelligence provides the rearview mirror to what has happened, social intelligence is what's happening right now. C2B (customer to business) is the new world order.
  • Mark Johnson: “Why is it so hard to ‘listen’ to our customers, when we ‘heard’ what they said?
  • Jon Wurfl: “If word of mouth remains the most powerful marketing influence, do shoppers with large social networks, and maybe loudmouth friends, make better purchasing decisions?

From there, we touched on many game-changing insights that can help you become the kind of retailer customers love to love.

Some of the highlights I captured while the ideas were going back and forth:

  • It's important to redefine the retail experience to be part of the consumer's world. The physical domain overlaps with the online domain. There's an opportunity to harmonize them into one environment which is closer to how we live.
  • Retailers can't force feed ideas onto customers who are in charge of the relationship. It's important to respect them. They need to feel our passion.
  • Brands need to actively listen to consumers who want to be listened to. Social media gives shoppers an amazing amount of influence. Social media also offers retailers the opportunity to offer customers a behind-the-scenes understanding. 
  • Content helps customers understand products for their context. Community provides opinion. Retailers traditionally focus on commerce, when they need to spend time on content, context and community.
  • Retailers can't separate product from information, so need to make that possible in-store and online.
  • Fashion products are all about 'how does it make me look.' That means that customers need to go into stores to 'try on' and buy. It's important, then, to bring content and community into the store.
  • Loyalty has traditionally been about points when it should be about behavior. Customers are willing to pay more if they understand the value.
  • People want to engage. Customers who are more loyal are willing to tell both sides of a story.
  • Too many retailers don't understand their customers. There's no excuse not to know them. Start by obtaining social insights. Listen to all channels and respond to customer expectations.

Some of the points I made about the retail experience:

Customers call the shots. That means we need to respect them; offer them value starting with how to educate them and simplify the decision making process. We should never force ourselves on them [think permission marketing].

This requires that retailers be intensely focused on customers. Also, retailers need to understand how they differ from other resources customers have to choose from, and what value they offer customers.

I touched on showrooming [see Showrooming Precipitates Retail Business Innovation], but did not get to talk about evil retail practices [i.e., How Not to Get More Business: 7 eMail Retail Experience Horrors or How To Do Bad Social Media: 10 Examples.] Next time!

The show ends with "Crystal Ball" predictions.

I invite you to listen to the one hour show [click on Retailers we love to love: building brand loyalty [aka the Retail Experience to listen] and let me know what your takeaways are.

Thank you, Becky Carroll for inviting me.

Thank you, Bonnie D. Graham for an amazing Game-Changer Coffee Break!

Thank you, fellow Game-Changers for bringing up so many interesting ideas! 

Topics: retail experience, innovation

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