Today’s consumers have an abundance of choices readily available, and grabbing and retaining their attention has become a significant challenge for retailers. Recognizing the potential loss or gain for a business or brand, it’s crucial for retailers to actively pursue engagement with their intended market and keep that connection alive to secure customer loyalty for the future. The foundation for such success is establishing an effective customer engagement strategy for retail.
What is retail customer engagement?
Customer engagement in retail refers to the various ways a retail brand interacts with current and prospective customers, both in person and online. It is an emotional connection between a customer and a buying process, where customers become invested enough to buy. Retailers are competing on the quality of their service, and customer engagement plays a vital role in building brand loyalty.
Customer engagement in retail is about building an emotional connection with customers and providing a seamless experience across all channels. Personalization is essential. In fact, 66% of consumers now say they will leave a brand if their experience is not personalized. Digital transformation has become an indispensable tool for facilitating individual interactions with a brand that will lead to conversions and increased revenue.
How has customer engagement changed in 2023?
Overall, customer engagement has become more customer-centric, personalized, and digitized, and the results of increased investment in digital customer engagement have been dramatic.
Here are four ways in which customer engagement has changed in 2023:
- Focus on customer-centricity: Brands are shifting their focus from costs and acquisition to building customer trust and loyalty through delightful experiences.
- Importance of personalization: Customers are more likely to quit a brand if their experience isn’t personalized, and 46% of customers will buy more when given a personalized experience.
- Increased demand for a seamless phygital experience: Customers want a seamless experience that combines both digital and physical mediums in a single transaction.
- Importance of human connection: As interactions become more digital, the need for a human connection has also increased, and brands are seeking ways to enhance and improve the human connections they have with customers.
Brands are also recognizing the importance of a seamless phygital experience and human connection in building customer trust and loyalty. Overall, retailers report that efforts to increase engagement have increased revenue by an average of 90%.
Benefits to increasing customer engagement
There are numerous benefits to increasing customer engagement, all leading back to the primary goal of increasing sales and profits. While retailers may question whether the effort and investment required to increase engagement will reap adequate rewards, statistics have proven that there is a direct correlation between engagement and purchasing.
Here are some examples of how efforts to improve customer engagement will contribute to more a successful retail store:
- Increased customer loyalty: Engaged customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand, resulting in reduced customer acquisition costs and reduced churn rates. According to Bain & Company, apparel shoppers will purchase 67% more per order after shopping for 30 months from the same company.
- Increased sales and conversions: Engaging with customers can build stronger relationships, increase brand awareness and reach, and ultimately drive more sales and conversions.
- Valuable customer insights: Engaging with customers can uncover valuable customer insights, including their preferences, behaviors, and buying patterns. This information can be used to improve customer satisfaction and a better overall customer experience, improving Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV).
- Brand advocacy: Engaging with customers and providing exceptional experiences can create a community of highly satisfied loyal customers who willingly advocate for the brand. This can greatly impact the effectiveness of your online presence, making for more effective omnichannel marketing.
- Improved customer retention: Engaging with customers can improve customer retention and reduce churn rates. According to the Harvard Business Review, it costs anywhere from 5 to 45 percent more to attract new customers than to retain existing buyers. And while new customers convert at a rate of 5-20%, an existing customer will purchase at a rate of 60-70%. Customer retention can be very profitable.
- Increased cross-selling and upselling opportunities: Analyzing customer engagement data can personalize recommendations and accurately target cross-selling and upselling offers.
- Longer time spent in-store: Engaged customers are more likely to spend more time in your store, which is a major concern post-pandemic. With shoppers more and more likely to make purchases online or to rely on BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store, or ‘click and collect’), increasing time spent in a retail outlet is important. More time in store can translate to more sales.
5 ways to increase customer engagement in retail
Customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand if they have a good experience, and they are more likely to switch to a competitor after a single unsatisfactory experience. Personalization is also becoming increasingly important, with many customers saying they will quit a brand if their experience isn’t personalized. Companies that prioritize customer experience are more likely to be successful, and investment in digital customer engagement can lead to increased revenue.
Let’s take a look at 10 ways you can increase customer engagement in retail:
1. Transform retail stores into hubs of personalized, experiential shopping
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail shopping experience has changed. Transactional shopping used to be the norm: customers would enter the store location, find the product they were looking for, pay and leave. While this type of shopping experience is still part of the retail landscape, more and more consumers want more than just the ability to get what they need: they want a shopping experience.
Shopper engagement is a vital element of a shopping experience. Consumers can try products, interact with digital tools or staff, and learn how to use products through special events in-store. The retail environment is expected to offer stimulation in the form of digital signage, and a seamless shopping experience in which stockouts and pricing issues are never an issue. Some retailers have even managed to create such a memorable shopper experience that their location has become a tourist destination, such as IKEA, who leveraged insights gained from social media to come up with the idea of inviting customers to a warehouse where they could stay the night and use IKEA sleep products.
“Retailtainment” is the term now used to describe how retailers use entertainment to attract and engage customers. The goal is to make the retail environment comfortable, with streamlined pricing solutions like digital price tags, and enjoyable, with engaging visuals on digital signage and other tricks to increase loyalty and sales. Implementing IoT to master operations and enhance store spaces with interactive technology can create an immersive shopping experience. The goal is to add energy and increase the fun of the shopping experience. While this will ultimately take some creativity on the part of each individual retailer, using advanced technology will make some ideas easier to implement. It’s all about making your store a place where shoppers want to spend both their time and their money.
2. Harmonize online and offline retail worlds for enhanced shopper engagement
The digital transformation is here to stay, but many retailers are still learning how best to incorporate digital technology in their individual stores. Most brands will benefit most from essential steps like implementing IoT or developing a better online or omnichannel marketing strategy, but there are more advanced methods for increasing consumer engagement that are hitting the shelves now. Many of these have to do with linking your online and offline retail worlds, for example:
- Endless Aisles: To allow in-store shoppers to order products through an online store while visiting a retail location in person, and have out of stock items delivered to their door.
- Proximity marketing: To do targeting advertising and present personalized offers via mobile, to drive sales and increase engagement. US retailers that have integrated proximity marketing into their strategies have experienced a 9% increase in profits and a 175% uptick in ROI. Since 66% of consumers say they will quit a brand if their experience isn’t personalized, proximity marketing opens the door to a vital element of enhancing hopper engagement.
3. Integrate sustainability into your retail customer engagement strategy
Sustainability has been an important element of brand identity for some time, but in order to make this element of your retail business appealing to consumers, they have to know about it.
According to a survey by Sensormatic, nearly 90% of consumers think that retailers are not transparent enough when it comes to informing buyers about their sustainability efforts. This includes not only business practices and products, but also supply chains. By communicating with customers, retail stores can promote their efficient and effective supply chain management and emphasize how the use of digital technology reduces the environmental impact of many retail operations. For example, implementing Electronic shelf labels reduce the environmental toll taken by repeated printing and disposal of paper labels. However, advanced ESL technology makes labels look so good that shoppers may not even notice the difference. This is where it becomes the retailer’s responsibility to engage the consumer with a compelling story about their green in-store operations.
4. Elevate in-the-moment customer engagement with visual interaction tools
Once customers are in your store, it’s time to make the most of all your tools to increase visual interaction with products and promotions. Digital signage is key to getting the right message in front of the right shopper at the right time, and is used in a wide variety of industries, including pharmacies, grocery stores, liquor stores, hardware stores and other types of retail.
Electronic Shelf Labels are vital to communicating prices, promotions and more through clear and engaging visuals. According to one survey by Pricer, 2 out of every 3 retailers are of the opinion that their sales operations would be difficult to manage if they did not have electronic labels in their stores. Digital solutions of this type, that check more than one box, are vital tools in the ever-evolving retail marketplace.
Digital tools also allow for increased access to customer data, which in turn can help establish successful customer engagement with customers, allowing operators to be better equipped with product and service knowledge.
5. Simplify the shopping journey for enhanced customer engagement
While shoppers may crave interesting and engaging in-store experiences, and marketers continue to promote the importance of offering a vast array of choices, customers also want the actual purchase of items to be as easy and as simple as possible. Forbes has stated that 88% of buyers claim that experience matters as much as a company’s products or services, and 80% of customers feel an increase in brand loyalty when customer service solves their problem. In contrast, over 50% of customers will go to a competitor after a single unsatisfactory experience.
There are multiple digital tools for simplifying the shopping experience, including Electronic Shelf Labels, to seamlessly manage price changes, inventory issues and promotions, and digital signage, to keep shoppers up-to-date on products and sales via effective in-store communication and direct in-store traffic so that the journey from selection to purchase is stress-free and easy to navigate.
Simplifying your customers’ journey involves asking several key questions:
- What can I do to make it easier for customers to understand and evaluate what I am offering?
- How can we make our pricing more consistent and transparent?
- What can we do to optimize in-store layout and make the most of point-of-sale technologies like automated recommendations and mobile payments.
The goal for retailers should be to create a frictionless purchasing experience, where engagement efforts are reserved for enticing and motivating customers, not for solving mundane purchasing challenges.
Increase shopper engagement with technology from JRTech
Digitization has compelled various sectors to transform their old ways, and customer engagement platforms are breaking all the barriers and helping organizations understand changing customer demands and behavior.
Customer engagement is one of the many areas of retail shopping that has become reliant on digital technology to be truly effective. JRTech is an established provider of essential digital in-store technologies like electronic shelf labels.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you acquire the tools you need to engage the next generation of retail shoppers.