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It’s not me, it’s you

DisneyWe often forget that the seller-buyer relationship is…a relationship. Seems obvious right? Well, it’s astounding how many retailers or brands lose this notion amid the hustle of running a business.

And what’s more, today’s customer is a more complex being, with evolved needs and wants. Add into the mix the more choices the customer has in today’s market and you will see that the survivors of this retail race will be the ones that realise they need to participate in order to win.

Today, omnichannel satisfies

Your customers are changing. They’ve grown up and they need more from you. They want different, relevant and exciting. They want to feel engaged, to be moved. We all have to take a good look in the window display (not mirror) and reflect on what it is that moves people to take a step inside or indeed walkaway.

Omnichannel is one answer. Omnichannel is simply multiple POS locations – online, instore, print advertising etc. – and it’s what you need to both engage the customer and keep up with your competition. Once you apply an omnichannel strategy to your marketing it will become apparent that not only do all locations need to talk to each other, but more importantly they need to crossover seamlessly. We are witnessing a noticeable shift in consumer behaviours. In fact, 49 per cent want the ability to check product availability online prior to going to the store, and millennials are twice as likely to visit retail stores than baby boomers.

Tell them a story

Many marketers in retail are conscious of the shift that has happened with consumers’ expectations and interests, and they are responding to this with more thoughtful storytelling experiences. And for good reason. It is estimated that within the next five years, the customer experience, the story you engage them with, will be more important than price and service, according to a recent study conducted by Accenture.

A brand that has mastered the curation of a meaningful and emotionally driven customer experience is Disney, and the retail industry should be looking at ways to emulate this level of magic and delight for the customer. Disney continuously optimise and innovate, and they are obsessed with making the customer journey creatively entertaining.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”

If we adopted this musing of Shakespeare’s (stay with me) and applied it to retail, it makes a lot of sense. Following on from Disney, the retail environment is in essence a stage, and a truly remarkable customer experience is no different than a production. A production that inspires the audience (your customer) to feel an emotional connection to the story of your brand. Your crew, the set, lighting and so on all contribute to the performance at play.

Emotion is the key

And finally, we need to take the notion of performance one step further to the art of persuasion and motivating people. According to Obama’s speechwriter John Favreau, moving people is all about emotion, and this makes sense in the retail setting too. He states: “The best way to connect with people is through stories that are important to people’s lives.”

Emotion is really the key, isn’t it? We’re all fundamentally driven by our emotions. Brands such as Adidas, Nike and Apple are leaders in customer loyalty because they each tell a story that speaks directly to their customer. Appealing directly to a consumer’s emotional state, needs and aspirations with a view to leveraging those features of their consumer psyche to convert them into engaged (which often means paying) customers and, better yet, long-term loyalists.

So instead of breaking up, let’s break it down. Ensuring your brand story has emotional roots, and can be accessed by customers across a number of touchpoints, is simply key to staying in the relationship and allowing it to then thrive.

It’s essentially what your customer wants, and the time is now.

Jemma Caprioli is chief customer officer at Dashing, an integrated provider of retail technology and print solutions.

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