Monday, 24 November 2014 15:56

Multi-channel strategies needed to respond to customer demands

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Retailers have been urged to do more using their omni-channel infrastructure to personalise offerings to demanding customers as a way of enhancing their business in a highly competitive market.

According to retail solutions provider UXC Eclipse, customers are demanding more personalisation, more engagement and more ways to buy and to “sharpen their competitive edge” retailers must use omni-channel retailing to drive customer-centricity.

Matt Calderwood, CEO of Retail Solutions at UXC Eclipse says that while omni-channel retailing is pervasive, “the true challenge for businesses looking to compete at a higher level is implementing an effective long-term strategy for the omni-channel infrastructure.”

“As technology advances the ability to identify customers within each channel will improve. To be able to give each customer a unique shopping experience based on their needs is the ultimate level of customer-centricity.”

Calderwood says that understanding the needs of customers is vital for retailers, and he lists six key actions for retailers who want to put customers first:

1. Know your customer. You have many customers and these customers may not always fall in to the same target market. Identify your customers and get to know who they are and what drives their buying behaviours

2. Understand the needs of each type of customer. Understand how your customers make a purchase, including whether they use mobile devices and apps, or whether they flock to your retail stores. Along with how and where they buy, identify what drives their loyalty. Understanding the answers to these basic questions can help you begin to understand your customers and lead to the formulation of your go-to-market strategy

3. Conduct targeted communication. Once you understand your customer, target your communications accordingly. This shouldn’t be a single approach for your entire customer base. It must be highly targeted; some customers will respond to an email blast while others will respond to geo-located coupons when they are in the vicinity of your store

4. Measure results. Experience and instinct are important when it comes to crafting and communicating your message but it is vital to truly measure how customers respond to different types of messaging rather than simply assume a certain approach is the best.  Listen and learn from the results so that you can become better at conveying the value of your product or service to the people that are likely to buy

5. Make adjustments. Once you have measured the results it’s time to re-evaluate and adjust. Remember, the goal of being customer centric is to learn what your customer reacts to and what they ignore. Making adjustments to get the messaging closer to what resonates with customers will produce the best possible results

6. Repeat. It is rare that this process will generate perfect results the first time or even after multiple attempts. However, incremental improvements are valuable and more time invested in learning from your customers will result in a deeper understanding of their needs, wants and drivers so you can refine your offering accordingly and, ideally, increase your bottom line.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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