In-store customer engagement: 5 ways to do it right
Customer engagement is the key of today’s marketing culture. A White House Office for Costumer Affairs study tells that 80% of consumers of US would pay more if provided with a superior customer experience for a product or service. Customers are now active partners in marketing rather than passive receptors. This shift in customer consciousness aided by new technologies and vast range of choices is more and more pushing brands and retailers to experiment with different customer engagement technologies and practices. The modes of customer engagement practices and technologies are also being constantly renewed.
Proximity marketing is not a single technology but it works in different technology products driven by different systems that do location based real time engagement with customers.
In the past, mass media like television, radio, and other print media were the only means for customer engagement. But here the results were hardly calculable or direct. With the coming of and widespread popularity of internet, customer engagement practices reached a new level. Social media became the most vibrant arena of customer engagement practices. Online marketing proliferated to an extent that completely changed the dynamics of shopping culture and behavior. Customer engagement marketing envisions a long-term and more strategic conversion and retention. However, the probabilities for customer retention online are declining over the years due to the widening market and vast choice of content, service and products available to the highly specialized audience online.
This has, however, given a new impetus to the retail sector which is now in a takeoff experimenting with new technologies and practices to ensure in-store customer engagement. It is the popularity of smart devices that has most aided this process.
Let’s look at the five different proximity based customer engagement technologies and practices employed in the market today.
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Beacons: Beacons are now the most popular of proximity marketing devices. Proxbook Q1 2016 report clearly marks this takeover of beacons over other proximity technologies. Large retail outlets like Carrefour, Tesco, Wal-Mart and many more are leveraging beacons to build a personalized relationship with their customers. The three most popular proximity beacon standards are Apple’s iBeacon, Google’s Eddystone and AltBeacon, each with their own specificities and applications. Beacons allows a diverse set of possibilities and actions, like leveraging of push messages, notifying coupons, cards, contactless payment, customer service, product information, etc which makes it all the more popular among retailers and most welcomed among customers. Beacons use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technologies to communicate with the customers’ smart phones.
NFC (Near Field Communication): NFC determines the location of a smart phone by connecting it to an RFID chip attached on a device or product. The RFID technology system at the least includes a small chip, an antenna, and a reader, where the reader processes its work reading the information stored in the chip. This technology attracted the wide notice of IT professionals when Wal-Mart made its use mandatory upon its suppliers. Most payment technologies including Apple Pay deploys NFC technology. However, its use need not be restricted to payment. Museums and monuments can install NFC for providing information and retailers can deploy it on shelves to make the product information readily available. The HOUSE OF BLUE JEANS of Netherlands has employed the technology to assist the shoppers’ garment selection. The RFID reader integrated into a small counter next to a full size mirror set in the sales floor reads the tags attached to clothing items suggesting other items based on availability and style.
Geofencing: Geofencing is not a precise technology rather it’s a way to ensure that the messages you are passing are sent to the target audience you need at the right time. This technology has been there at least since 2002 for multiple online mapping applications including child location service. Geofencing extracts a mobile user’s location data via GPS and push messages are sent when they enter the specific geographic area, let be, stores, stadiums, museums, malls etc. It traces only those users who have opted for reception of messages. This technology is most popular among retailers as a mode to notify customers of sales and coupons though its use is not limited here. For instance Naiman Marcus, leveraged geofencing to spot when VIP customers are in-store. Other use cases of geofencing have been employed in retail outlets like Elle, Woolworths, London Luxury Fashion Retailers and Irish Department Store. Geofencing is however detested for its inability to give accurate location details unlike beacons. Thus, all these stores mentioned above are employing geofencing technology along with beacons.
Mobile Browser: Companies can geotarget users visiting their company site on their device in the proximity of a location sending dynamic content to that user even though the browser is not working on the company Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi Hotspot: A mobile user opening browser from the retailers Wi-Fi can be provided with dynamic marketing contents. This is most common is airports. Starbucks cafes as well employ Wi-Fi hotspot to send contents to consumers’ mobile phones.
The diversity of proximity solution technologies and devices shows the value both marketers and consumers attach towards an engaged shopping process. Professionals and retailers have shown that of all the proximity marketing solutions, beacons offer the most, which tells much about the current popularity and takeover of beacons over other proximity marketing solutions.