Customer Engagement Summit 2017

Customer engagement complicated business: Customers are behaving in increasingly complicated ways as they transverse their shopping journeys across multiple touch-points. It has, therefore, never been more difficult to engage with them in a meaningful way.

As difficult as it is, the reality for retailers is that they have to adapt to the changes in the way their customers are shopping otherwise serious problems lie ahead. Speaking at The Retail Bulletin Customer Engagement Summit 2017 in London recently Mark Spicer, CRM & loyalty manager at Lightspeed, told a packed room of delegates that retailers need to change their operations.

“Retailers have to deal with lots of shop windows – also known as channels – and if it feels hard that’s because it is hard. Keeping track of what [devices] customers are using and what they are doing is the challenge. But doing nothing is not an option,” he says.

ROI not necessarily obvious

It is sometimes not even obvious that there is a direct return on investment from developing a business that involves various channels. This was certainly the case at garden centre retailer Dobbies that closed down its transactional website in 2011 because the level of sales generated did not justify the ongoing costs.

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Tim Curtis, former multi-channel director at Dobbies, says: “It lost too much money and garden furniture was the only one [category] that had as much as 10% of its sales online. But we knew 69% of sales were influenced by the web in some way. Customers going from online into stores was particularly important. The question was how to generate increased profit to fund investment in customer experience and content online?”

Having product information online was clearly critical as only 14% of visitors to the website were intending to order a product. “Most of it was research and finding store information. It’s difficult to do the ROI on this,” says Curtis.

Online visibility of products essential

He brought in a content management system that ensured all the 40,000 SKUs could be represented online. On top of this Curtis used a very modest budget to introduce in-store web ordering that helped quadruple furniture sales (worth £4 million of extra sales), and also added a drop-ship platform for certain products online that helped grow e-commerce sales by 40%.

In addition he built-out the site’s capabilities to include a loyalty programme and event booking system to boost engagement. To ensure the maximum benefit is derived from such activity it is essential that the communications with individual customers is absolutely relevant.

For an increasing amount of retailers this involves taking into account the customers’ previous…