As a retailer you’re always confronted with changes, whether it’s yet another trend or a downward shift of the economy. The omnichannel environment presents retailers with a new challenge.
In the omnichannel landscape, customers now have 100 percent control, with the freedom to buy anytime and anywhere, whether they walk into your store or do it virtually via smartphone, tablet, computer, or catalog.
A PWC study found that 65 percent of U.S. consumers use at least two channels, with 21 percent shopping from four or five channels. They’ll review multiple websites before buying from you or one of eight competitors. They want instant, up-to-date inventory and pricing data.
To adapt to consumer behavior, retailers are changing their business models. They’re turning their physical locations into distribution centers, where online shoppers can either pick up the item or have it delivered right away. They’re optimizing sites based on individual searches and buying patterns, creating loyalty programs that incentivize purchases, employing sophisticated data collection and analytics methods, and installing in-store kiosks to check inventory.
But no matter how you try to tackle the problem, you need loyal customers – people who will shop again and again because they simply love your brand.
How can you sway hearts and minds? Start by understanding the path to the loyal customer:
Learn How Consumers Think
Loyalty used to be based purely on the brand. Now consumer loyalty has shifted to a combination of price, convenience, and personalization. Consumers rarely believe your fancy marketing messages, so you have to give them what they want.
Show That You Care
Discounts and deals will always be in fashion. But consumers become loyal customers when they see that you share the same values about the world. When they believe in the brand they’ll buy again and again.
Talk to consumers like they’re real people. Speak in a genuine voice, tell interesting stories, and provide content that’s valuable, not overly self-promotional.
Trust Your Employees
Create an employee advocacy program, which allows your workers to become company advocates on social media. Consumers listen more to their social connections than to official marketing campaigns, so it’s an effective way to build a foundation of trust.
Loyalty won’t happen overnight, but an employee advocacy program provides the best way to develop long-term customer relationships.
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American Apparel's chief digital officer discussed the future of retail, the importance of delivering value to the consumer, and strategies for an IoT and omnichannel world.