Omni-channel Success: Engaging with customers in a consistent, personalized way across all channels


Retailers will be able to deliver the ultimate customer experience across all retail touch points every time, when they are able to have a single view of their customers, irrespective of the channels. For this, retailers will have to stop focusing on the channels and instead start concentrating on how to deliver the right omni-channel experience to every individual customer. They will need to stop treating online stores and physical stores as two separate entities. If the marketing communication and messaging are not consistent or personalized across all channels, the shopping experience will also be fragmented and suboptimal.

Delivering a superior, personalized omni-channel experience pivots upon merging the information retail owners get from online/mobile with the in-store customer behavior. As a preemptive measure, retailers must take cognizance of the fact that omni-channel shoppers switch between channels at will and choose whatever is most convenient and effective at that instant. It is at this juncture that retailers need to get their act right by making that experience feel cohesive while making sure that the messaging is consistent and personalized at every touch point. This demands a unification of customer interactions across all retail channels, which banks upon having a single unified view of the customer.

To be able to gain that single view of the customer, retail businesses must be capable of assimilating all the data available at their disposal, which includes shoppers’ online behavior and browsing history, in-store and online purchases, preferred products and modes of payment, to name a few. Since this data has to be derived from multiple sources, it is essential that retail businesses be equipped with fully integrated retail management systems. Also, they need to tap into the power of advanced analytics to make sense of the enormous amount of information coming through the systems and unify it so they can deliver the personalized brand experiences that today’s customers expect.

With the help of the unified data, retail companies can offer personalized shopping experiences with content that is targeted and tailored for the individual customer and is not channel based. Armed with this knowledge about the customer along with intelligent CRM integrated point of sale (POS) systems that display shopper profiles, in-store sales associates can recommend products, suggest relevant cross-sells, and even save the sale if an item is out of stock at that time. Similarly, online stores can offer recommendations to shoppers while they are researching or purchasing to aid them in their decision making and drive them to make the purchase and sometimes achieve up-sells. Hence, engaging in a consistent, personalized way across all channels will help retail businesses achieve omni-channel success.

How to make discounting work!

ETP Blog - How to make discounting work

The festive season is synonymous with shopping and sales. Year after year, the festive shopping season gets more demanding, basically due to two main factors – increase in the number of shoppers and rise in the competition amongst retail businesses. While more shoppers is certainly good news to the business, tough competition can be detrimental to success in the festive shopping arena.

One of the most common and probably one of the most effective techniques used by retail businesses to attract shoppers is offering festive discounts. Discount based promotions are a popular crowd puller but in the modern day retail, planning and executing discounts the right way can be a huge challenge. Retailers need to make sure that customers are finding their offers better than the others. At the same time, they also need to ensure that they are not gouging a hole in their own pockets while offering markdowns or free of charge products.

Here are some simple tips that retail businesses can use to make discounting work:

Defining objectives: This is an important step that retailers need to take while thinking about discounts. They need to clearly define the purpose of running a sale or a promotion and ensure that it is aligned with the overall business objective. The purpose could be varied, such as, looking for new customers, encouraging repeat purchases, selling off old stock and so on. Based on the purpose, retailers can decide what kind of offers they need to plan and execute, when to run the promotion campaigns offering the discounts and which products should they be offering discounts on. Further, the performance of the promotion can be tracked and measured effectively when the purpose is clear.

Segment right: Once the purpose is defined, next is to identify the target audience to whom the discounts would be offered. This includes segmenting shoppers in to different buckets so that more relevant and attractive discounts can be offered to each. Shoppers can be segmented based on their purchase history, their buying preferences, their budgets, demographics and more. Shoppers would be more eager to receive offers that are most appealing to them.

Mindful of margins: Retail business owners need to be mindful of their margins while running offers and discounts. Based on the objectives and customer segments, they need to set an acceptable margin so that they don’t end up giving away too much and running into losses.

Creatively strategize: Once retailers have their objectives defined, they know which customer segments need to be targeted and they have set their acceptable range of margin, they should then draw up strategies and define the business rules for running the promotions. While doing so, retail owners should get creative through techniques such as clever pricing, highlighting new products, offering different discounts for varied set of customers.

Execute and monitor: Next, it is time to get your promotions engine running and track its performance against set KPIs that have been predefined keeping in mind the objectives, margin, customer segments and plans. Constantly and proactively tracking and tweaking the promotion campaigns for improving performance is necessary to reap maximum benefits from discounts.

Offering discounts is a tested and proven technique for retailers to make the most of the shopping season, but it is important that it is done right.

Do Not Discount The Power Of Promotions

Failing to plan is planning to fail – Alan Lakein

The retail industry is a competitive arena where mature players try to maintain steady growth and new players attempt to gain a stronger foothold. It’s no surprise that the customer regularly finds himself surrounded by promotions of all shapes and sizes! Also, gone are the days when these campaigns were linear and narrowly thought. Daily, scores of brands contest for the attention of the customer – who is getting increasingly demanding.

ETP blog promotions

Retailers need to delve deeper into customer behavior and understand the three Ts – Temptation, Triggers and Turn-offs. The temptation route can be utilized for a promotion strategy with considering and evaluating the past purchase history of a customer. They are attuned to a more personalized offering style, as the products and services being promoted cover the ‘comfortable’ and ‘familiar’ ground. The trigger strategy contains a more philosophical approach – from basic human nature to specific target demographic group. As the term suggests, turn-offs are the promotion-product/service mix that have been, through a set elimination and deduction appraisal, deemed unsuccessful. In an overcrowded market place, where mismatched or irrelevant promotions may result into opportunity loss or customer defection, it is equally crucial to determine what is NOT working.

At this juncture, it is safe to say that analytics – both descriptive and predictive, form a big part of promotion strategy and management. Technology in various forms is the biggest carrying force to gain insights on customer preferences and expectations. At the retailer’s side, there are multidimensional tools like Business Intelligence modules, feedback programs, etc. and customers are quickly adopting smartphone technology and social media platforms. The latter feeds the former in this case, with customers sharing, visiting, buying on mobile phones and discussing, reviewing, connecting through social media. Data is collected across all these channels to collate and convert into logical patterns and advantageous acumen.

Post implementing the promotional campaign, retailers should create set processes to track the productivity and effectiveness of the campaign. Setting KPIs to key people, processes and products involved is a proven practice that ensures the different promotions running simultaneously are meeting their respective objectives. Adaptive contingency plans help support, sustain and streamline any changes required to deal with expected and unexpected situations. This saves time, operational costs and possible damage to the overall customer experience. It also creates necessary fail-safes to avoid hemorrhaging campaign expenditure, add to the bottom line and deliver value that boosts sales.

Market leaders in retail have been effectively using ETP Accelerator, across all their stores. They agree to have acquired better insight into customer demand and a covetable promotions trajectory. ETP Accelerator is a powerful marketing and promotions engine. It manages marketing campaigns in sync with customer/market trends – reducing implementation time drastically. It supports promotional strategies and business rules to be set and rolled out across operations instantly. This proactive solution allows multiple promotions and business rules to run concurrently without affecting process efficiencies. More importantly, the retailer can monitor the performance of each promotion strategy and redefine them as required.

A Millennial Match Made In Retail Heaven!

The term ‘Millennial Retail’ seems to gather popularity and confusion in equal parts. Suddenly one finds themselves floating neck deep in ‘quick-fix-home-grown’ millennial solutions which threaten to make necessary relevance rhetorical! But the right retail technology applied through the right business practices can help navigate these choppy waters and turn the tide to one’s advantage, harnessing the industry potential that lies within this world-wide phenomena.
Industry experts project one-third of the global retail revenue to be contributed through the millennial generation by Y2020. The good news is, this number will permanently be on an upward trend hereon. But the challenge lies in managing expectations.
Millennials expect quick service, this is often the key distinction between a sale and no sale situation. Apparently, patience is not a virtue to hold dearly in the new age. Retailers are beginning to understand that their in-store experience is only as good as the customer wait-time it reduces. Quick Billing and express counters ensure the instant gratification millennials seek. Your POS stations are battle grounds combating the biggest deterrent to your conversion ratios. This means there is no down-time and service continues even in offline mode.
ETP blog Millenial retail
A personalized shopping experience has the multi-fold effect possible almost exclusively through millennials. Since they are more open to share information about their preferences and often know exactly what they want, you populate your CRM database with more accurate data. This leads to better promotions and developing key value-add services that make your brand personable and closer to your customers. Also, help spread the love! 19 out 20 millennials (globally) own smartphones and are active on social media. That makes for a lot of first impressions, daily, through multiple networking and information sharing sites.
As a group, millennials favor engaging with companies and brands on social media and also prefer receiving hyper targeted content. With sales soaring as a result of positive social media influence, it is no wonder that most marketing budgets today are skewed towards building an omni-channel presence for their organization. So when your customers exit your store, they still carry your brand experience (quite literally) with them, on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. Within the store, the staff uses a similar mobility to lookup customer info, frequency-regency of purchase, buying history like preferred products and payment modes. They now hold the right information to help customers make better choices, deliver value through applicable promotions, up/cross-sell and conclude the transaction from anywhere in the store. Again saving their time and fortifying customer loyalty which induces and influences more people to try your products and services.
It is important to note that although the retail market is a dynamic arena, the millennial trend has pushed to permanence certain course correcting measures which were inevitable. They include striking a better balance between demand and supply, optimizing supply with better visibility and control over production, process and people to satisfy and supplement existing demand. A centralized data management system enables you to analyze better, faster and get that much closer to your yearly projections. The necessary operational overhaul, in reality, has led a more enlightened practice and pace of doing business. And you are sure to be the quickest to the draw, with those young guns at your side.