Retailers must change their focus from a short term sales perspective to a long term relationship perspective in order to be successful in the future. The omni channel purchase capabilities strategy must be expanded and the focus changed to develop a relationship that retains the consumer’s attention on all platforms. I see the critical factor as consumer retention and the return of the consumer to the retailer over and over. Whether it be the online channel or the retail store, it is important to the success of the retailer that the consumer return. This means that the retailer must focus on the long term relationship and this will involve losing a sale periodically to the competition. This periodic loss of a sale is more than overcome by the long term relationship and continued return of the consumer.
Providing a ‘sticky’ environment that encourages the return of the customer in itself is a long term position that requires patience and perseverance to achieve. I go to Amazon as an example of the type of ‘sticky’ environment that becomes a destination for consumers over and over again. Amazon provides a virtual shopping mall experience with everything from groceries, to home improvement, to fashion, to electronics, to entertainment. This foundation is then supported with continuous communications with the customer regarding ratings, purchase suggestions based on past purchases, new service offerings and special offers of sales and services. Then combine all of this with the Primo membership program that both encourages purchases and encourages use of the entertainment platform and you have an architecture that provides a compelling reason for consumers to return.
These are not services that will work with all retailers and they are certainly services that cannot be implemented with the flip of a switch. This does provide an example, however, of how to define and implement a long term strategy to encourage the retention and return of customers. This strategy all begins with developing the relationship with the customer and does not necessarily focus on a need for a sale each time the customer returns. The strategy builds on and focuses on service and delivery of value to the customer. Retailers should focus on the power and capabilities provided by standard social media tools along with a continuous communication stream to maintain the conversation with the consumer. The objective is for the retailer to be top of mind for the consumer when they are ready to make the purchase. The objective is for the retailer to be the go to destination for the purchase and by destination I mean virtual destination and virtual purchase.
What we confirmed this year is that mobile technology is changing the consumer purchasing practices more than shopping practices. Due to the growth and expansion of mobile technology and wireless networks, this purchase practice will grow and retailers must prepare by developing the relationship with the consumer.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors. How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience? Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes. In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas. How can you support these continuously changing requirements?