Operational tips for independent retailers learnt from the big boys

One of the things I love the most about digital is the lightning speed at which it changes, the flexibility and adaptability required to keep ahead of the curve at the cutting edge is phenomenal. As someone who is motivated by new challenges and finding solutions, this speed of change keeps me interested and excited all the time. Retail digital consultancy luckily lends itself to fast paced adaptation. Being operationally nimble is no small feat and certainly not something to be under estimated.

Having spent the last six years working with retailers there are common hurdles and barriers to success I see time and again. In this post I am going to explore five of the lessons independent and growing retailers can learn from the big ones, and get right.

Unity

All too often I see big in house teams divided, marketing and ecommerce working independently, to goals that don’t align with each other. Marketing speak digital but don’t fully understand it. Ecommerce are revenue orientated and are laser focused on the 2-3% of site visitors who are converting, often neglecting the other 98% of visitors who need to be engaged through the brand experience. Brand vs Ecommerce, ultimately with the customer suffering as the result.

Unify your team, set collaborative goals and clear lines of ownership.

Your marketing team should own acquisition, retention, engagement and advocacy. Bringing together harmony between departments is the only way to do this successfully. Up skill your brand team to exploit opportunity and support the ecommerce function but with the customer at the heart.

KPIs must be centralised and teams working collectively to the same goal. Minimise waste, maximise efficiency and create a unified customer experience.

Vanity Vs. Sanity

Get to know your customer, marketing should be aspirational but it also needs to be inclusive and realistic. All too often brands have an idea of who their customers are or who they would like them to be, but the reality of those actually buying is very different.

Use your data effectively, investing in your data partner and getting your customer data in good shape is essential. Build a centralised, single view across all channels, no silos or duplication of databases!

Segment your data and get to know your customer beyond their purchase, who are they, what do they care about, how do they want to be communicated with.

Each part of your business can then use this data to create a perfect experience across all touch points for all segments.

Look beyond last click

All activity needs to be driving a return that of course is a no brainer. However all channels are not equal when it comes to ROI. All too often activity gets canned (mostly by the FD!) if it is in a silo and cannot hold its own in the ROI stakes.

Don’t underestimate the halo effect of activity, ensure your reporting looks deeper at metrics such as assisted sales, brand and non-brand impressions, new visitors vs returning, engagement etc.

Set realistic goals with conversion in mind. Appearing number 1 for high volume generic terms may boost your ego (and cost a pretty penny), but will those customers actually convert?

Make structured change and measure the impact. Changing lots of things at once can leave you unsure of what impact each change has had. Analyse, develop, test and repeat.

Jack of all, master of none

The temptation to try and do everything, be everywhere and use all channels and tactics is all to present for brands. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be for the bottom line.

Use your customer insight and data to identify where your customers are actually spending their time and getting their inspiration and turn that into action. Invest your budget wisely.

Embarking on activity without a clear brief or objective is the road to failure. Make sure you know what you want to achieve from the activity and set clear goals so you can kick the tires and test the effectiveness of it. Analyze, develop, test and repeat.

Do less but do it brilliantly.

Direct to consumer vs wholesale

All too often do we see brands battling with their stockists for market share. Trade team driving forward their partners whilst the ecommerce team are hemorrhaging budget trying to keep up with the big players and their deep pockets.

Get your Trade and Ecommerce teams working together.

Agree terms and guidelines around products, pricing, promotions and brand bidding through paid media in your trade agreements.

Retain exclusives so you are the go to for the full range or hero products.

Get full visibility on stockist promotional activity and align your promotional strategy. Enabling you to manage your budget effectively in times when you may not be price competitive.

Submit your authorised stockist list to Google via their trademark form. This allows only authorised stockists the ability to use your brand name in their ad copy. Simple and effective but also needs policing.

All of the recommendations above are well within the reach of smaller retailers. They don’t require huge budgets, just time and focus. What are your barriers to success? Speak to us now about how we can help you start making a change in your business.

Rent desk space in The Froggbox

Welcome to the Froggbox!

Leapfrogg is opening its doors and renting out desk space and offering meeting room hire to you, the lovely residents of Brighton & Hove.

The Froggbox can accommodate start-ups and freelancers that require space five days a week or on a more flexible hot-desking agreement.

The office is a stone’s throw from the seafront and offers a lovely and relaxing working environment alongside the Leapfrogg team. Prices are inclusive of bills and include high-speed internet, kitchen facilities and access to a brand new glass meeting room and reception area. Prices vary from £75 – £250 a month plus VAT and we are offering a discount to the first 10 people to sign up for full membership, £200 for the first 6 months!

The Froggbox

We also have a lovely modern glass meeting room which is available to rent by the hour or for hosted meetings. The meeting room fits up to 8 people around the boardroom table and between 15 and 20 in a theatre-style arrangement. For hosted meeting’s we can provide refreshments upon request and we can discuss other bespoke requirements if needed.

Froggbox

If you are interested in discussing the options further and meeting our Office Manager, Libby, please call 01273 322830 or alternatively email [email protected]

Also please visit The Froggbox for more details.

Making friends with Google’s micro-moments

The latest marketing buzz word flying around is the “micro-moment.” The term micro-moment has been coined by Google and is described by them as “critical touch points within today’s consumer journey when added together, ultimately determine how that journey ends.”

So, what exactly are micro-moments?

I won’t go into huge detail about what defines a micro-moment as there is already a great introduction piece on Search Engine Watch and Google also has a wealth of content on the subject which is well worth reading.

Essentially, the consumers buying journey is made up of a number of critical moments. Due to the nature of the modern consumers’ behaviour, lifestyle and access to multiple devices, an immediate relevant response from brands to any query across any device at any point of the buying journey is now critical.

The advent of mobile devices has created the need for immediacy in the response required from brands. In the past a consumer may have done their shopping research in a long session at a desktop computer, now the consumer journey is likely to be made up of bite-size engagements and moments that are fit in around the consumers lifestyle.

  • On the train home
  • In a queue at the bank
  • On a bench in the park
  • In bed at night

Brands now need to recognise what are likely to be the micro-moments that will form part of the customer journey and identify how to deliver the right experience at that time.

Many successful retailers will already have thought long and hard about the search terms that may be used at each stage of the buying journey, from generic research terms right through to long tail terms with specific intent. They will have also thought about the right content to create to have a presence for each of those terms and deliver a relevant experience.

So this isn’t a new “thing”? No, it isn’t BUT the difference in this is thinking about how “intent,” “content,” and “immediacy” combine together to form a moment in time.

If you understand the intent when someone is using those terms – how do you ensure the right content is delivered quickly to create a useful moment for that person at that moment in time?

Our advice for retailers

Our advice for retailers would be to revisit the work they have already done around their customers’ buying journey and keyword research and make sure it is aligned with their multi-device content strategies both on and off-site.

  1. Start by listing all of the moments you absolutely need to own and win within your customers’ journey. If you don’t know what they are – use the data and analytics you have available and speak to your customers!
  2. Define what the customer needs from you at that specific moment. Is it inspiration, education, information or is it a quick easy purchase, direction to their nearest shop, customer reviews
  3. Create time and location relevant content that delivers what the customer needs at that moment to move them to the next critical micro-moment

Once you have those key moments nailed and converting, use a deeper level of customer data and insight to widen the number of moments you are aware of and need to own seamlessly across multiple channels.

If you want any further advice on how you can weave micro-moments into your existing digital strategy or develop your levels of customer insight don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Many retailers lacking across multiple areas of customer intelligence

As I wrote in my recent blog post “Why 2016 is the year of customer intelligence” retailers should be working towards building – not just their customer data capabilities – but their ability to overlay data with emotional insight and use that knowledge to make successful changes across their business.

As part of our drive to understand the level of customer intelligence that exists currently within the premium and luxury sector, we launched the Customer Intelligence Index back in January.

The Customer Intelligence Index enables retailers to benchmark their customer data and insight capabilities with their level of customer knowledge and their ability to use this insight to make successful changes to their marketing and wider business. Once the survey is completed, we produce a report which outlines their capability within the three areas of customer intelligence with recommendations on how they can improve.

The Index has only been live for just over a month, but already, the results have shown some common themes and has highlighted the main areas that retailers need to improve on in order to place the customer at the heart of their business.

Data management and collection

Developing effective loyalty programs that capture useful data

Not only does a loyalty programme encourage brand loyalty and repeat purchase, but retailers can use the data to gain additional insight into customers’ behaviour and preferences.

Tracking customers as they move from key segment to segment

Many retailers have begun to segment their customers into useful segments but they aren’t tracking them as they alter their spending habits and move to another segment. Retailers who cannot track this movement risk delivering very different messages to the same customer or failing to reward them for increase spend and loyalty.

Insight

Understanding the value of customers by acquisition channel

Attribution is an important, but a difficult element of customer insight. Being able to use Google Analytics and transactional data to attribute the value of each marketing channel by the value of the customer it drives is proving tricky. This means retailers are at risk of investing in acquisition channels that drive low-value customers or ignoring those that have the potential to drive high value.

Predicting future purchase behaviour

Being able to manipulate data alongside emotional insight has proved to be limited with the retailers who have taken part in The Customer Intelligence Index so far. The results have shown that they are finding it hard to make informed forecasts on what customers will purchase in the future and therefore are at risk of having the wrong product or stock and the wrong time.

Business Readiness

Regularly reviewing the customer strategy

Retailers are struggling to develop a ‘test, learn, refine’ model on their customer strategy and marketing activity. With consumer needs ever-changing, actions being taken could be out of line with what customers want or how they are currently behaving.

Lack of resource to track KPIs and collect and communicate customer insight

Many retailers still don’t feel they have the resource in-house dedicated to leading the creation and communication of customer insight. They may be collecting it in different places, but have no flag bearer to combine it and ensure it’s being used across the organisation. The result of this is that any insight collected can be rendered useless as it is not be used in an effective way.

The areas outlined are where retailers have consistently scored less than 40% but are only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other areas being highlighted that are still being scored below 50%, so watch this space as we divulge more results.

Better still, take the survey here and find out where you come compared to other retailers on the Customer Intelligence Index.

Make 2016 the year of customer intelligence

Over the last few years, becoming truly customer-centric has become vital for retailers to succeed in today’s consumer-led world.

Those retailers that put the customer at the heart of their organisation and deliver an engaging and personalised experience are gaining loyal customers and market share from their competitors.

Not only does focusing on the customer make business sense, but research by Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable compared to companies that were not focused on the customer.

The modern day consumer has extremely high expectations of the brands and retailers they shop with and now expect a seamless, personalised shopping experience across multiple channels.

As a result of these growing expectations, retailers are continually under pressure to improve the experience they give their customers. Larger retailers are creating customer experience roles and teams to help lead change across the organisation.

The first step for many has been getting the customer service and logistical elements of their business in shape. Better stock management and access, fast and low-cost delivery options and caring customer service are all good housekeeping measures which help increase conversion and retention.

But where do you go from here in order to stay ahead of the game and grow market share in 2016?

You now need to unlock the power of customer intelligence in order to make smarter marketing and business decisions and deliver an experience that engages customers at every level.

So what is customer intelligence?

Customer Intelligence is the product of three main capabilities:

  • The ability to collect, manage and manipulate customer data
  • The ability to turn that data into behavioural, holistic and predictive knowledge
  • The ability to use that insight to make change within the business

Once those elements are in place, you will have the ability to use customer intelligence to make impactful change.

Customer data

One of the great advances of ecommerce marketing is the ability to collect and analyse data on individual customers to help you understand more about your customers. For example:

  • Transactional data tells you what your customers have bought and when they made a purchase
  • Website analytics will tell you how your customers are behaving on site
  • In-store data collection will help show you which online customers also shop in-store
  • Email data will tell you which customers continue to engage with you and shop online

Using the above data to split customers into segments will allow you to start defining different types of customers and tailor your experience to them accordingly. The first step to customer intelligence is to start collecting, managing and manipulating the above data more efficiently.

Customer knowledge

Once data capabilities are in place, the next key stage is to build on that data to create a well-rounded knowledge of the customer on both a holistic and behavioural level. This will allow you to really understand their personal values, needs and expectations.

You should aim to find out the following information about your customers:

  • Demographics
  • Personal values
  • Online and offline shopping habits
  • Media consumption
  • Lifestyle and hobbies

Understanding the information above can lead to marginal gains across the entire shopping journey. The more detailed a picture you have of your target customers, the easier it is for you to start tweaking and improving their customer experience across your digital touch-points.

Using both quantitative and qualitative data to personalise the multi-channel experience to meet the needs of customers is now the ‘Holy Grail’ for retailers.

This is where the final element of customer intelligence comes into play.

Business readiness

There is no point in having a deep knowledge of the customer if you are unable to use that knowledge to make impactful change within the business.

Many retailers spend a large amount of money on customer insight that then sits in a corner gathering dust as the business does not have the processes or resource to use it effectively.

Only those retailers that have a culture of ‘test, measure and learn’ throughout their business and the processes to support it, are able to turn insight into true intelligence. You must have accountabilities for sharing customer knowledge with all relevant stakeholders. Those stakeholders must then have the resource and skill to use that insight to make changes, measure the impact of those changes, learn from it and then share findings with the wider business.

Retailers must make 2016 the year they build on their customer insight and experience strategy in order to gain true customer intelligence. By ensuring the three capabilities above are in place throughout the business, you will be able to:

  • Set well-informed and realistic business objectives
  • Prioritise budget and resource to the most relevant parts of the customer journey
  • Ensure marketing strategies are both optimised to minimise waste and personalised to drive better ROI
  • Build more meaningful relationships with customers that increase satisfaction and loyalty

 

cii_logo_medium_greytext

Leapfrogg and rais have created the Customer Intelligence Index to enable you to benchmark your customer data and insight capabilities, your level of customer knowledge and your ability to use it to make successful changes not just to your marketing but the wider business.

Click here to take our free online survey and get your own Customer Intelligence Rating.

 

How to put the customer at the heart of your digital marketing

In today’s consumer-led world, there’s no denying that crafting a great customer experience across all channels is firmly rooted as the key to success.

Those retailers who truly understand the needs and expectations of their customers and are able to deliver a positive, seamless experience across multiple touchpoints – from in-store, to mobile, online, email, sales and customer service – will ultimately prosper.

Whilst most retailers agree that designing and delivering the perfect customer experience is the key to success, there are many challenges they face in doing so, from data and insight through to back-end technology and larger structural changes. Digital marketers in particular face the ongoing challenge of knowing where to invest to get the best return when there is such a myriad of marketing opportunities and tactics available to them.

Our solution is to get into a customer-first mindset.

Basing decisions on actual insight and feedback from customers allows digital marketers to cut through the noise and make more informed decisions.

We believe that everyone in an organisation has a responsibility to be customer-centric and for this reason, we have produced a step by step guide on how to keep the customer at the heart of your everyday marketing activity. We explain how to get clever with customer insight in order to make smarter decisions and improve the results of your day-to-day marketing activity.

We hope you find the report a useful read. If you have any questions, please do get in touch to find out more about how you can use customer insight to put the customer at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Download the report button

 

Demystifying the premium consumer: five common myths

In today’s consumer led world understanding “who” your customer is and what they want from you is crucial. Only with this knowledge in place can you start to tailor the right shopping experience to your consumers, leading to increased acquisition, conversion and loyalty across all channels. To put this in perspective, recent research from Econsultancy found that marketers, on average, see a 19% uplift in sales when they personalise their web experiences to their customers.

As we work with our clients to help them understand their customer base, we often hear them say “We know exactly who our customer is, it’s [insert an ideal customer profile cooked up in a board room years ago].”

So many retailers are basing their marketing on their vision of who they want their customer to be and NOT who they actually are.

Having an idea in your head of who you are selling your product to is a crucial starting point when creating a brand and a marketing strategy. However, once you’ve created a customer base, you need to pay attention to who they actually are and why they bought from you in the first place and start to tailor your marketing accordingly around those who are likely to spend the most with you.

Below are five myths we often come across about premium consumers:

Myth 1: Premium consumers are all rich

It depends on what you class as rich, but in truth, many of our clients’ customers are not extremely wealthy and a large proportion of them save up to purchase their products. If treated well at the beginning of their relationship with you, these lower income customers can turn out to be high value loyal customers over time.

Myth 2: Premium consumers are all glamourous and beautiful

I am sure many of them are, but a great deal of those who buy premium products are normal people with normal shaped bodies and normal lifestyles. Don’t ignore them. You may not want them as brand flagbearers, BUT alienating them will not do you any favours. We have found in our research that a high percentage of fashion consumers value images of the products they are buying on real life models.

Myth 3: Premium consumers are not price conscious

Don’t assume that if people can afford to buy high ticket items they are not price conscious. The buying drivers for many have changed over recent years, and although a more affluent customer may have money to spend, they are still looking for good quality and value for their purchases.

In a survey to Leapfrogg’s Premium Panel we found that 30% of premium consumers feel more valued by a brand who gives them money off their purchases.

Myth 4: Premium consumers expect more from the brands they buy from

There is an assumption that premium customers expect more from their shopping experience that those buying from cheaper suppliers. This is wrong; today’s modern consumer expects a top experience whether they are buying from Amazon or Harrods. The product and packaging may be superior, but they still expect a high level of customer service, speedy delivery and returns and that any problems that arise are dealt with quickly and efficiently

Myth 5: Premium consumers prefer to buy from stores than online

In the past this may have been the case, but those buying from luxury brands are getting younger and younger – they ‘live’ online and frequently buy high value items. Bricks and mortar stores will always play a role in the premium shopping experience, but the role of online will only grow.

The above are just some of the incorrect assumptions we see made about premium consumers on a regular basis. There are many ways of discovering more about your customers which you can read about in my previous blog post: Customer Insight – what you should know and why.

 

Image via: Death To The Stock Photo

 

Five mistakes retailers are making in their digital marketing

Working within the premium retail sector means we spend our days making sure our clients are making the most of all the opportunities available to them online. As a result we also see the mistakes and lost opportunities many are making too. We thought it would be useful to share a few of the common mistakes we are currently seeing made by retailers and some tips to help you avoid them!

Marketing decisions made on assumptions about customers not real data

Many retailers (especially premium retailers) have a good idea of who it is that buys their products. This is great if they actually are the people that buy them. Too often we see retailers who are marketing to a type of person that only makes up a very small percentage of their customer base and a majority of their revenue comes from very different people.

Yes, we all want high earning glamourous, beautiful people buying our products, but in reality, many of those who buy premium products are actually normal people that buy nice things because it makes them feel good even if they have to save up for it.

Retailers who don’t understand who is actually buying their products may find they are alienating their true customers by not showing their products in relation to their customers true lifestyle and appearing too out of reach.

We are not recommending that premium or luxury brands dumb down their branding in any way, but by understanding your true customers you can start to target individuals through eCRM and personalised content to further engage with the people who make you money!

Acquisition and retention run by separate teams

With the growing trend towards “customer experience”, retailers are focussing on how they provide a seamless experience at every stage of the buying journey. However, many of the retailers who are starting to join the dots of their customer journey are still operating their marketing teams in silos according to each stage in the buying journey. For example, one team might be focussed on acquiring the right customers by marketing to them and driving them through to conversion and another team then taking on the retention of those customers and in many cases never the twain will meet.

Unless these teams work VERY closely together there can never be a seamless experience for the customer. Content for the customer should be planned along one central theme that appears throughout the buying cycle. Far too often we see acquisition and branding teams creating different types of content that then sits on site or distributed via email. If a customer sees different content at various stages in their buying journey then this can affect engagement and acquiring and retaining the right kind of customer. For example, if a customer is acquired through engagement with inspirational, lifestyle content, but post sale is then sent product or sales focused content only through email, they will lose the affinity they have built with the brand and will feel they are just being sold to and are far less likely to purchase again. Likewise, if they bought through the first time through offer and sales related content they are less likely to respond to inspirational or editorial content later in their lifecycle.

If you currently have separate teams dealing with the same customers at different points in their lifecycle, then ensure you meet regularly and you are all working towards a common set of customer personas and KPIs.

No segmentation of customers

Even if it’s just to split out male vs female, or active vs lapsed – splitting a customer base into smaller chunks can only ever be of value to a retailer. It helps deliver a more targeted message via ECRM, nurture high value customers and stops marketing budget being wasted on people who may not buy from you again.

We still see a large number of retailers who have no segmentation of their customers in place. They are sending the same email to everyone and don’t try and re-engage their lapsed customers.

It doesn’t have to be complex; getting started with any form of segmentation will create a return.

Same content on every channel

We frequently see retailers pushing the same content on all of their marketing channels. This is another wasted opportunity. If a customer has already been on the site and seen a piece of content then being sent the same content via email or seeing it posted on Facebook is going to start getting boring. Not to mention the fact that often different segments of your customer base will use different channels to engage with you.

Yes, have a central theme of content across all channels that epitomises your brand, but tailor it to suit each channel. If customers on Facebook are younger then tweak the content to make it more current, accessible, fun and interactive. If customers on email are higher spenders then make sure content is tailored to them accordingly.

A successful content plan will be focussed on a specific set of customer segments and will be planned channel by channel in relation to which customers interact and engage where, and at what stage of the buying journey they are at.

Not monetising social media

Last and by no means least, we are still seeing many brands active on social media who are missing the opportunity to commercialise them and make more money!

Rich Pins

Rich Pin

Pinterest offers the functionality to set up Rich Pins which allow brands to have up to date pricing and stock availability featured on their pins. We see so many retailers who have failed to implement these, yet by doing so you can reach users who are ready to make a purchase. Our Social Media and Content Consultant, Hannah, has written more about Rich Pins in her blog post here.

Twitter ‘Buy Now’

The ability to purchase through Twitter is only available in the US only at the moment, but brands such as Burberry have adopted the new functionality that allows a customer to click on a “buy” button within their tweets. Something to keep an eye on!

Shoppable video

Just last week, Google launched Shopping Ads for YouTube so retailers can now promote related products alongside their YouTube videos. In addition it allows retailers to assess how the video is being watch and which elements within the video lead to purchases. Clever!

Those who have strong engagement and customer numbers on social channels could be driving additional revenue by adopting any of the above.

So there you have it, a little bit of a rant about where retailers are missing out on revenue and profit. These mistakes may take a little time and resource to sort out but they will immediately start providing return on investment.

Why standard customer profiling is only the filling in your insight sandwich

These days, everyone in retail is aware that the customer must come first – and really understanding your customer is the linchpin in that.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post – Customer insight: what you should know and why– there are many types of data, both qualitative and quantitative, that you need to understand in order to form a full picture of your customers.

Many retailers utilise standard customer profiling services such as Acorn or Mosaic to provide them with insight into the types of people their customers are and where they located. These tools in themselves provide an excellent starting point to gain a top-level understanding of your customers and provide a wealth of socioeconomic data and general behavioural insight. They are extremely useful when starting to tailor your brand and communications to the people you want to sell to.

However at Leapfrogg, we believe that understanding the profiles of your current customer base is not enough and that it’s only the filling in a much bigger ‘customer insight sandwich.’

sandwich

Before you add the filling to a sandwich, you need to have the bottom layer of bread in place to add the filling to. When creating your ‘customer insight sandwich’ – the bottom layer of insight which supports your customer profiling is ‘transactional segmentation.’ Profiling your customer database will be so much more fulfilling if you have already segmented your customers by their value to you now and also in the future. It’s better to know the type of people that sit within your most valuable customer pot vs. those who hardly ever spend with you.

For example, a general segmentation of your database may show that you have 40% of customers within a certain profile. As this is a large proportion of your database, you start to tailor your marketing strategies to them, but what you don’t know is that they all sit within a single purchase segment and are not of high value. By using transactional segmentation first, you may find that 5% of your customer database is from a completely different profile, but make up your most profitable segment as they are loyal customers making repeat purchases which generate 50% of your profit. By not understanding your customers’ transactional value, you could be tailoring your marketing to the wrong segment.

Once the bottom layer of bread is in place and you have filled your ‘customer insight sandwich’ with profile data, you still need the top slice of bread to hold it all together.

The top slice of bread is the real actionable insight you can find from your own qualitative research. Asking your customers directly what their buying motivations are, how they want to engage with you and the buying experience they expect gives you all the sustenance your marketing belly needs.

With this insight in place, your sandwich is complete. You know who your most profitable customers are, the type of people they are, but now also that they are most likely to respond to video content, or they are driven by product over price. You know that they want targeted emails from you and will engage with you on Pinterest, but will never follow you on Twitter or Facebook. You know the people that influence them online and that their loyalty to you is driven by exclusive access to your brand, not discounts. It’s this extra layer of insight that is the really actionable part and forms the action of your marketing strategy. It’s only when you have all three layers of your sandwich in place that you will know WHO you are selling to, HOW much they are worth to you and most importantly WHAT you need to do to engage with them in the way they want.

Happy sandwich making!

If you need help with any of the elements in your insight sandwich get in touch with [email protected]

Image from Pixabay.

‘Light bulb’ customer experience moments for premium retailers

We’re only a few weeks into the new calendar year and I’ve already lost count of the number of conference flyers that have landed on my desk alerting me to a list of “essential” and “must attend” events for the customer experience professional this year.

The sheer scale of content out there on customer experience is perplexing and many of the premium retailers we speak to don’t know where to start. However, often it’s the simplest of strategy tweaks discussed over a coffee that will start joining the dots for smaller premium retailers looking to improving their customer experience strategy.

I call these learning’s ‘light bulb moments’ – they are those discoveries that seem too obvious when you vocalise them for the first time but can have a huge impact on a business. So, at a time of the year when conference organisers are asking for your company credit card and your valuable time, I thought I’d do the hard work for you and sift through opinion, trends, articles and reports to give you what we think could be the biggest ‘light bulb’ moments for premium retailers this year.

Light bulb moment no. 1: Your customers are in charge

Not you, not your ‘Brand Strategist’, not your Financial Director insisting on ambitious ROI and not your Head of Product Design with a thing for rose gold and copper again this season – it’s your customer that is in charge.

My first light bulb moment is probably the most difficult and the hardest to implement. It’s about shifting the culture of your business away from siloed departments with exciting targets around traffic, ROI and cost-per-action to a customer-centric approach which puts the customer at the heart of what you do.

Your customers are going to dictate how much you sell and when you sell it. Customers in 2015 will expect big things from you – from almost immediate customer service feedback on social media and personalised loyalty schemes – to beautiful packaging that arrives next day (free of course) and speedy returns. Start seeing your customers as your boss and their expectations of you as a catalyst for innovation, change and excellence, rather than a constant struggle with demands. By doing that you’ve already shifted your own thought processes.

It’s not easy persuading everyone, but it makes decision making around strategy, product and marketing beautifully simple once done.

What’s right for your customer + what’s right for your business = #win

But how do you put them first…?

Light bulb moment no. 2 – it’s not rocket science (if it was, I’d totally work for NASA)

The truth is in the data and you already have access to everything you need right at your ecommerce fingertips. Your own transactional data is the key to unlocking the experience your customers want.

When was the last time you looked at your customer database and worked out who are your most profitable or valuable segments of customers? Do you know which people in your database only buy at sale time? Which products are the gateways to customer loyalty? If someone buys at Christmas time, is it even worth remarketing to them in January?

Once you’ve started to dig into your own data, you can then start asking your most important segments what experience they want from you and take a long hard look at your product strategy.

Honestly, it is that simple. Well, OK, there’s some database cleaning, maths, focus groups, surveys and excel spreadsheets involved, but that only takes a couple of weeks. Once that’s all done – it feels pretty simple.

Light bulb moment no. 3 – earn your place

Your brand is not how you define yourself to your customers, but what your customers say about you. In 2015, you need to earn your place in their hearts.

Accenture found that 92% of global consumers trust seemingly unstructured content (earned media) above all other forms of advertising. So “earned media” is going to be an even bigger watch word in 2015 and all premium retailers know how important it is to be meaningful to customers. Give your customers useful, interesting, meaningful content and engage with them in the spaces they want to communicate in and they will reward you by sharing and creating content right back at you.

In turn, shared and useful content kick starts any natural search, social and PR campaign, drives engagement, creates brand ambassadors and ultimately, drives sales.

Lightbulb moment no. 4 – technology will enable experiences, not be the experience

In order to ensure you’re building relevant retail experiences that exceed your customers’ expectations – you’ve got to ensure that those experiences are seamless. It’s been the ‘year of mobile’ for as long as I can remember and in the past five years I can also remember the year of Pinterest, Facebook advertising, wearable tech etc.

The minute you take a step back from a specific channel and focus on how your experience can be communicated via that channel and indeed, if your customers even want you to be communicating with them at all via that channel – you’re thinking along the right lines. Premium retailers in particular need to fight hard to resist getting side-tracked by the latest fad. Remember what your customers want from you and enable that experience.

Lightbulb moment no. 5 – redefine what success looks like

So all your light bulbs are brightly lit; you’ve broken down those digital marketing silos, you’ve put your customer at the heart of your business, you’ve dug into your transactional data and you’re creating useful content that neatly supports your wider digital strategy.

But how do you measure success?

Again, it seems simple, but the best way of checking if you are genuinely delivering a decent experience for your customers is to ask them. The Net Promoter Score is going to see a revival in 2015.

Here at Leapfrogg, we’re starting to talk to clients about using it as one of our central KPIs. The better you can understand how your customer sees you – and whether or not they would genuinely recommend you – the better gauge you’ll have on the future success of the business.  Lots of sales are lovely, but the best customer experience strategies use the data of the past to plan for the future and what better way of checking you’re heading in the right direction than by asking your customers if they would recommend you.

So how can smaller premium retailers compete with the big boys?

All this database investigation, culture-shifting and content creation takes lots of budget, right?

Actually, it’s not as much as you’d think. You are in a much better position than some of the industry giants. These are the reasons why:

1. By the virtue of your size, smaller premium retailers have the nimbleness to change direction and get excited about culture changes quickly
2. You have a smaller team, who already work together closely. What’s another couple of digital marketing silos broken down between friends? You could probably do it at lunchtime…
3. You already have an intimate relationship with your most loyal customers. Several of our clients know their best customers by name and how fabulous would it be for a loyal customer to be asked to participate in the success of a business that they already love?
4. Your team has to generate PR, natural search and social content on a shoe string anyway – how much easier (and cheaper) would it be to streamline your plans to one simple content strategy that cascades across all of your channels and get your customers involved?
5. You can feel liberated by the opportunity to focus on the most relevant channels for your customers and ensure you spend your budget getting your experience right over those priority channels
5. You don’t have the layers of bureaucracy that many of the more established premium retailers do, so ‘testing’ an NPS KPI for a couple of seasons doesn’t have to be agreed by layer upon layer of management – you can agree it over a lovely cuppa next to the coffee machine

Customer experience for smaller premium retailers. Done!

Image via remographic on Flickr.