The Perspective 
Monday, 06 May 2013

By Paul Shwabe, Practice Leader - Retail Solutions, RMG Networks

The next mega-challenge for retailers is their ability to measure and analyze when, where and how consumers “touch” each fulfillment channel along their path-to-purchase.

Retailers are spending millions to development modern processes in this era of agile commerce with flexibility to meet the consumer’s multi-channel demand. Presently retailers are struggling with actually tracking the entire journey beginning to end (web, mobile, in-store) as a consumer jumps from one channel to the next channel as they get to the moment of purchase.

Before retailers can solve this question/problem they must ask themselves more questions about the consumer. It is critical for retailers to understand the context, content, and community which the consumer will travel… and only then will retailers be able to analyze and build metrics of commerce.

Consumer


In the past retailers used to control the entire brand message and communicate it in a very linear and one-directional modality to their consumers. Clearly, those days are long gone and today’s consumers are liberated and free to research a brand to their hearts content, price compare, and now “buy anywhere” (web, mobile, in-store) and even abandon a specific channel experience only to resume their quest later with another channel with the eventual purchase with the demand “get anywhere” (in-store, store-pickup, store-delivery, delivery-to-home).

Context

Retailers need to recognize the relevancy of a consumer’s awareness and selection of a brand product or category based upon the physical proximity and decision proximity. The context of proximity will dictate the consumer’s preferred channel.
As well content and community will influence a consumer based upon whether they are making a product choice or comparison or simply looking for more category educational information. Retailers / store associates whom understand each aspect of relevancy of a consumer will also drive a consumer’s behavior.

Content

Retailers and advertisers blend the physical environment as well as every imaginable digital asset (music, video, and graphics) and technology (WiFi, interactivity, augmented reality, RFID, NFC) to influence and shape the consumers experience in their purchase decision.

The skill and balance is that content visually presented and personalized can be used for both Educational – early in the awareness stage and then Selection – later in brand product comparisons or product choice.

Community

Retailers and brands are recognizing the power of social networks (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+) as well that consumers are inclined to reach out to family, friends, co-workers, store associates, and even strangers with whom have made similar life style purchase choices for their opinions, feedback, how-to, knowledge before they will make their final decision.
Consider the number of retailers that are launching other web sites, mobile apps, blogs to support their brand community (MyLowes, Home Depot’s – The Apron, Macy’s mBLOG, Neiman Marcus’ NMdaily).

Commerce

Retailers must re-educate their store associates as well sponsor increased employee communicate to alter an era of transaction based culture & attitude toward the consumer so it is transformed to a relationship culture. There is a shift in thinking with both Retailers and Consumers as reference in “The AVATAR moment for Consumers and Retailers.” Commerce maybe a primary objective, but relationship is critical to sustain and grow.

Technology helps support the consumer experience, but consistency in the consumer’s path-to-purchase is the first step to innovation and transformation.

photo credit: VinothChandar

View original article on the RMG Networks blog

 

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