Economic pressures on the high street, including the shift from physical to online sales have had a dramatic impact on the nature of retail. Retailers are constantly developing more effective methods for engaging with customers – not just to make a sale, but to promote their brand and instil customer loyalty. Recent retail research demonstrates that the future of this kind of retail marketing lies in showing rather than telling – by creating genuine dialogues and personalised interactions with customers in order to create meaningful connections.
Showing rather than telling
In the past retailers would broadcast one single message for all customers to consume. Now, via social media and other digital channels there are myriad ways to get through to people on a personal level, by creating dialogues and tailoring campaigns – to show rather than tell.
For example, Waitrose have recently introduced a ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ scheme for loyalty card users. On the scheme, people can select ten products that they would like to receive a 20% discount on every time they shop (with some exceptions), rather than being offered discounts on things that they might never buy. Tesco Clubcard offers a similar discount with vouchers based on past purchases – but Waitrose has taken this one step further by allowing people to pick their own deals. They can also change their selection at any time. This gives them a sense of control. They feel as though they are driving the relationship and are getting more benefit from it than a regular discount scheme. This should in turn, foster brand loyalty and encourage repeat trade.
Conversations rather than transactions
Award-winning Barber Design clients the Triathlon Shop in Bristol don’t just sell things, they engage with customers and are happy to talk and advise on any aspect of Triathlon training. They have a range of equipment in store to assist customers in finding the right products and are enthusiastic and knowledgeable which makes customers feel like they are engaging in a conversation rather than a transaction. This instils loyalty and trust in the store, who are able to offer specialist advice using gait analysis suites, an elite endless pool, a bike fitting service and bike workshop.
Collaborating on Creations
Crowdfunding platform Betabrand works with brands to help identify trends. For example, outdoor brand ‘The North Face’ uses the platform to test the market for new product lines. Potential customers vote for the products they would like to buy and get a 30% discount if their chosen product ends up being produced and sold as a result of the research.
But this site isn’t just about giving a discount to make a sale. The real value is in the feedback given on each product, Potential buyers are able to comment and ask questions about individual designs – for example is the material hypoallergenic? does it crease easily? is it waterproof? – or share their personal experiences of similar items that they have and why they like them. This give North Face a valuable insight into the clothing and shopping habits of their customer base.
In addition to this, if the product goes into production and the feedback is incorporated into the final design, customers feel valued as the brand has listened to them and responded to their suggestions. They also feel more connected to the product as they played a part in its development, which in turn instils loyalty to the brand.
Discovery through interaction
When it comes to showing rather than telling, one of the best forms of retail interaction is discovery. This is why, in the digital age, bricks-and–mortar stores are still popular – even with millennials. Nothing beats trying the product out for yourself, looking it over and pressing buttons to see what they do.
Barber clients Neal’s Yard is one brand that lets customers feel, smell and try products – a process that they would find hard to replicate online. Like the Triathlon shop, they encourage people to come to their stores, to engage in conversations and tailor solutions to suit their individual needs.
By showing, talking and responding to change and encouraging customers to discover and interact with products, retailers can create strong relationships and enduring brand loyalty where customers feel valued and respected. Are you engaging with your customers? Do you show or tell? Leave you comments below to continue the conversation!