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What’s sizzling in retail this summer

Having recently participated in CRMC as an attendee and speaker, I had the opportunity to not only share my insights on how retailers can transform their business, but I also learned from several marketers how they’re innovating within the retail landscape.

These innovations are made possible with the culmination of technology and data that’s enabled by a strategic vision with the customer front and center, enabling brands to truly understand and connect with customers. And ‘this expedition’ (as discussed at CRMC) continues.

Let’s take a look at what retailers are doing this summer to keep things sizzling to accelerate business impact.

Show the true colors of your brand

There’s lots of competition within the retail industry. It’s important for brands to take a step back and identify your value positioning.

Determine what sets your brand apart and identify ways to reinvigorate the old (assuming it was working). Don’t be afraid to stretch here. And remember to innovate: for if you don’t, your competitors will.

During our session at CRMC, our client Valvoline Instant Oil Change shared their brands’ ‘true colors,' or how they strive to always convey trust and transparency with their customers.

How to do they accomplish this?

Valvoline integrates technology in their stores that allows customers to actually see the work being performed on their cars. Additionally, this technology is used across the brand for other purposes such as wait time monitoring. This is what it looks like: 

Image of CarCam functionality from Valvoline

Valvoline integrated this feature because they are committed to leveraging technology and data to accelerate their marketing programs' maturity.

Create valuable experiences

Within CRM programs, brands are focused on creating valuable experiences for their customers. It’s about integrating your brands’ value during each customer visit and creating an experience that makes them want to return.

Great marketing will get them to your door. Then you need to give them a reason to interact with your staff to make a purchase.

To truly create a valuable experience, you need to make sure your omnichannel strategy is intact. As a marketer, investing in technology is essential for collecting the offline data along with the integration of your CRM or loyalty platform to achieve a unified customer view.

Did you know that only 19% of organizations have an aggregated view of their customer data across all channels, and only 8.9% of marketers are able to recognize audiences across all channels?

When thinking of a brand who creates a positive customer experience (pretty much all of the time), the first to come to mind is Ulta. Whether in-store or online, Ulta is dedicated and focused on knowing what their beauty lovers want and using that data to create a positive experience for the customer.

Mary Dillon, Ulta’s CEO, said at the recent ShopTalk conference, “Customers can have an emotional experience around interacting with our associate.”

Ulta reserves employee’s time to be spent on providing customers with meaningful service and experiences. Online, the brand is focused on capturing data and using that data to personalize the customer journey.

Keep customer service front and center

Make sure employees are well trained and equip them with the tools (and data) they need to engage with your customers to deliver on your brands’ goals.

Too many brands fail to invest in their people. Just like your customers have options, so do your employees (like finding another job). Make training fun, easy and engaging so they stick around.

Have you ever called LL Bean’s customer service department? They answer by the second ring, and with their phone number recognition system, they have the ability to know and talk to the individual customer.

Additionally, customer service reps at LL Bean are able to view all purchases made, regardless of the channel. Their mission of providing legendary customer service through Guaranteed to Last™ products has enabled the retailer to officially be named the Customer Service Champion.

So remember, strategy is key.

  1. Continue to review, update and test your strategy.
  2. Create a strategic roadmap in which team members from all areas of your organization are involved (steering committee).
  3. Talk to your customers and ask them how you can improve.
  4. And always think about what’s coming next – are you prepared? Can your brand survive the current turbulent times? If not, it's imperative that you focus on establishing your long term vision and create internal agility to make the change quickly.

Modern marketers need to be able to adapt to the trends and new technologies, such as machine learning/artificial intelligence, to compete within the retail landscape. Brands continue to innovate with technology like smart dressing rooms or chatbots who can sense emotions. Be ready, as you’re on the retail front line. 

And by keeping these three tactics front and center in your strategy, your brand can sizzle this summer.