As the retail industry reigns supreme as America’s largest private sector employer, the demand to increase innovation to support this industry continues to grow. Directly employing 28 million Americans and supporting over 40 million additional workers, the retail industry represents approximately 24% of total US employment.
The Effects of Data on Retail Technology
In today’s ever-changing retail environment, retailers must stay up-to-date with their customer needs and wants to stay ahead of the competition. Customers have more choices than ever before and retailers must strive to improve the customer experience through every engagement.
During a recent panel with the Technology Association of Georgia, I shared insights on the power of analytics and best practices for retailers to use this information to advance their businesses.
Why is data and analytics critical for retailers to understand to advance their business?
Profitable retailers need to analyze consumer behavior in their stores with the same precision that is being measured on websites. Brick and mortar retailers must create customer profiles which align with their target customer. In doing so, a retailer can personalize the entire customer journey from advertising through better understanding their consumer personalized needs and wants throughout the buying experience.
Retailers can use data and analytics to predict trends, seasonality, prepare for demand, identify potential customers and optimize pricing and promotions. In understanding what the consumer is craving, retailers can drive sales. By fully understanding how multiple variables are impacting store revenue, retailers can make effective modifications that will give their store(s) the performance boost they need to thrive and remain competitive.
What are voice of the customer programs and why are they important?
Your target customer has a voice. Are you listening? A voice of the customer (VoC) program is generally a quantitative research platform that aligns your customers’ feedback with their expectations of a brand, product or service offering. Such a program is essential because this information allows stakeholders to keep a pulse on what is happening through the lens of the customer and make adjustments as necessary.
Beyond this, referring specifically to retail, VoC can really do what’s implied in the name—give customers a voice. Implementing a VoC is one thing, but ensuring that you can analyze and take action upon the insight gathered is entirely another. Determining how to focus, monitor, maintain and promote various attributes of the business and connecting that information back to the various business units is key critical.
A properly executed VoC answers the following questions:
- Does training need to be restructured around specific items?
- Do associates need more knowledge in various areas?
- What about ensuring that promotions align appropriately to the next marketing campaign?
All of these items and more are achieved through a properly executed VoC.
Three Tips For Retailers To Enhance the Customer Experience
1. Start a VoC Program
Retailers can immediately implement a VoC program, which is key and critical. Understanding more about your customer and developing ongoing rapport with your target customer would be one area where retailers could start, if they have not already. Consumer expectations expand and change every year, as customers have more options and power than ever before.
2. World-Class Customer Service
In addition, a recent study by TimeTrade suggested consumers rank prompt service, personalized service and smart recommendations as what they value most when shopping brick and mortar. For this reason, I would implement VoC findings into a training platform for sales associates.
We live in a tactile world and while online has taken a bite out of brick and mortar, 85% of consumers report they like to shop in stores, because they like to touch and feel products prior to making a final purchase decision. The desire for knowledgeable sales associates is a must to ensure the likelihood of a sale and build repeat clientele.
3. Social Listening and Monitoring
Finally, consider social media listening tools and consumer sentiment analysis. Such a platform will not only improve but also influence the customer experience. The value here is not only listening to what customers, prospects, employees and others are saying about your brand but also what your competitors’ customers are saying as well.
There is a massive amount of content that can be harvested from social media; two way communication can be established between customers, prospects and others and sentiment can be easily monitored over time.
Get Familiar with Analytics
So, what is the most important take away? It’s clear that the most effective method for improving the customer experience, likelihood of return and loyalty is through using data and analytics. Gone are the days of simply counting the number of people walking through the door. Learn more about how to gain new customers and improve quarterly and annual sales at by contacting MarketSource today.