Scaling proven approaches to attract desirable customers
How are retailers moving away from traditional sales touch-points by adopting mobile devices to engage with customers to pin point their needs?
You would’ve had to have been stuck on a desert island talking to a volleyball for the past 5 years if you didn’t know that the increase in mobile devices has changed the landscape of how people access data and information.
Mobile commerce also changed the retail and e-commerce industry for the good and in some cases the bad. We’re seeing retailers adopt new technology to re-use existing ideas to rewrite the rulebook and some are being innovative in creating new concepts that are changing the game.
Introducing Carphone Warehouse’s Pinpoint
Recently we’ve seen a product from Carphone Warehouse with their Pinpoint app. Their app is believed to have massively increased their which measures the loyalty that exists between a provider and a consumer. Their app is an advanced search engine created to help encourage customer engagement and blur the lines of online and offline shopping.
The clever side of Pinpoint is what goes on behind the scenes — Twice a day the app is updated with the latest deals and packages from a range of choice networks. The app also actively helps cross-sell other services they offer such as their Geek Squad services.
Creativitea’s Prototype ‘Plansaver’
Project “Plansaver” was briefed into the Creativitea Digital Department in 2012 from a leading supermarket’s own mobile network. Their brief was to build a prototype user interface which sales advisors could interact with new and existing customers to their mobile network. The aim was to increase acquisition and reassure existing customers that they were getting the best deal. The app was designed to analyse their mobile usage and costs to make sure their current contract was the correct deal for them, whatever the network.
The Plansaver concept was the same as Pinpoint in many ways with one fundamental difference. Using a hugely complex algorithm, our prototype used realtime data about the consumers current usage. It worked out whether or not the consumer was receiving the best deal based on the consumer’s current package. It accessed contract details from a huge range of historic, discontinued and new tariffs. The prototype then worked out the average spend and the cost for charges outside the deal inclusions. Minutes, texts and data was then reviewed within a fraction of a penny then compared with other tariffs to see where they could save money.
Our prototype was trialled in a range of stores across the country and is still in discussion whether it’s going to be licensed or not. We believe it would still be a game changer for retailers and would’ve disrupted the way their customers compare prices. Carphone Warehouse have proved it works so it’s only a matter of time.
How can this multi-channel approach be scalable for smaller businesses?
Recently I was talking to the owner of a very successful family run business which has been trading for over 75 years in the retail sector. They mentioned to me about the struggles they have with people ‘mobile shopping’ in their store. The owner explained that there are more people browsing his store, trying on items and gathering advice to then leave to shop online rather than people putting cash into his tills.
I keep hearing this story from the owners of independent retailers which got me thinking about how i could scale what we did with project Plansaver to fit retailers needs, whatever the size and infrastructure.
I feel that by giving sales team access to tablets and getting them in-front of users to compare prices online is very risky. So what’s the alternative? I have a few ideas which combine all the benefits of realtime data with the added customer experience you get when shopping at an independent retailer.
Fashion Retailers for example could benefit from a loss of custom when the sizing is not available in-store. For example; If a customer comes in and requests a particular sized item you could use a mobile device to do a virtual sizing using augmented reality. If you have the item in-stock in an off-site warehouse you can check and arrange free delivery saving the customer from going elsewhere.
So how can this work the other way?
So how can e-commerce sites engage more with their customers like traditional high-street stores? Pinpoint is so successful because it also covers the opaque area of Carphone Warehouse’s branding; It’s engaging with their customers on a “touchy feely” level, helping them get the right deal and the right price whilst making the customer feel like they’ve been cared for and looked after. Their is growing because of this care. Carphone are bridging the gap between their high-street retail space and e-commerce.
For me this is what sets high-street shopping apart from e-commerce — the personal care. For example buying clothes from a small boutique menswear shop is a far greater experience than buying from some e-commerce stores. I’d also be happy to pay a little extra knowing i’m looking after an independent retailer.
We are seeing more e-commerce stores give this extra “touchy feely” value to their customers; Mr.Porter the hugely successful mens fashion e-commerce website, combine a great customer service, hidden extra’s and great content to deliver their customers a high-end experience. It’s almost like shopping in a swanky fashion boutique on Carnaby Street.
We’re also seeing exciting updates from the guys over at Hiut Denim who aim to improve the jeans shopping experience. In their factory in Wales they are building a FaceTime virtual dressing room which helps customers get measured up for tailored jeans. This to me sounds like a game-changer. Research shows one of the most intimidating item of clothing for women to buy is jeans so hopefully this takes some of the anxiety away — improving their buying experience.
The omni-channel shopper
So the art of selling is forever changing. E-commerce and traditional high-street retail both still have their role to play and are quite unique experiences but it’s exciting to see how brands are working to blur the edges of the two. This will help provide a more holistic shopping experience but retailers are now not looking for single channel consumers to move on. They want to attract a omni-channel consumer that will interact with their brand through a multitude of devices seamlessly and share that experience, therefore, brands can interact with their consumers wherever they are and that means — mobile devices. Carphone Warehouse’s success has proved that retailers are going to have to learn how to attract and engage with these omni-shoppers to reap the benefits of having these highly desirable customers.
How they go about doing that is a post for another day.
Thanks for reading my stroy! I’d be certainly interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas about Omni-Channel Shoppers so please leave me a comment.
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