Stop relying on luck for a good shopping experience

The following is a guest post by Sean O’Shaughnessey.

Shopping woman on the phoneRecently, my daughter was in the market for a dress and her experience with the retail store was so positive, she became a fan. Her particular experience was due to a one-in-a-million, perfect store clerk with a photographic memory. Yet now, technology is capable of consistently reproducing that same lucky experience which causes us as consumers to gush to friends and drive business to stores.

One of my daughter’s goals was to find a unique dress worn by no one else in her sorority chapter. After a day of shopping, she was empty-handed. She did have a favorite in mind, but she didn’t want to commit to the dress without context.

When she got home, she was disappointed she hadn’t bought her favorite dress. Rather than turn around and drive for 45 minutes, she decided to call the store and see if they could hold it. She wasn’t optimistic she could describe the dress well enough, but thought a phone call could save her some aggravation. She was pleasantly surprised the clerk remembered her and remembered the dress.

With renewed excitement, my daughter drove to the shop only to find the clerk had laid the dress out for her, complete with matching shoes, jewelry, and shoulder cover that complimented the dress and my daughter specifically. In this situation, the store was lucky, and the store clerk was phenomenal. However, can you count on incredible store clerks with great memory and attention to detail working all hours of the day to respond to all phone calls?

Can’t Be Lucky All the Time

Let’s play this scenario out in a way that takes the luck out of the process using a methodology I call “Event-Enabled Marketing.” My daughter enters the store and sees several dresses she likes, but is not ready to make a decision, just like before. Rather than buying all of them only to return them the next day, the clerk suggests she signs up for her own personalized shopping cart. Since my daughter (like almost all college women) has a smart phone, she scans a QR code, which immediately takes her to a place to register with the store. She scans the tag of each dress she likes which are automatically entered into her personalized cart.

When my daughter leaves the store, the clerk adds personalized context to my daughter’s account profile. She records her approximate age, hair color, skin tone and that she is studying to be a Marine Biologist at the university several hours away. She also makes note of her sorority name.

Later that evening, my daughter reviews her selection of dresses with her best friend. They decide on the perfect dress and send a message to the store asking if that exact dress and size are still available. The result of a customer who is becoming a fan and advocate is the same, but technology replaced the luck of an amazing store clerk with perfect memory, which is a rarity in retail as we all know.

Catering to the Fans 

With Event-Enabled Marketing capability now available, the personalized platform takes the data entered by the clerk and my daughter’s preferences, learned through scanned dresses, to accessorize the dress and offer highly personalized cross-sell. The store has a history with my daughter’s sorority sisters, which was only learned through data correlation and tracking, so the platform puts a few items in my daughter’s recommendations that are unique to her university and match her sorority colors. Happy with the great ensemble for the formal, my daughter gushes to a few of her sorority sisters who download the app and begin to shop virtually from the sorority couch without ever having set foot in the store.

Most businesses want to give their customers phenomenal service. Unfortunately, too many can only do this with the outstanding effort of truly exceptional employees. With Event-Enabled Marketing, retailers can now deliver personalized service to every person at a fraction of the price. It is no longer acceptable to offer the same service to every customer – the 21st century retailer needs to offer unique service to each and every customer, turning the customer into a fan.

This article was first posted on The TIBCO Blog.

Sean O'ShaughnesseySean O’Shaughnessey, other than having a repetitive name, is a software account executive  responsible for some of the largest retail, CPG, manufacturing, and insurance accounts in the world. His role gives him access to the core challenges in consumer markets that can only be met with smart strategy and wise investment in technology.

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Categories: Customer Experience Management, Retail

Author:Jeanne Roué-Taylor

I'm fascinated by disruptive technology and its impact on our world. I manage sales operations for an excellent startup with a unique team of highly experienced data scientists.

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2 Comments on “Stop relying on luck for a good shopping experience”

  1. April 4, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Interesting.. I’ve never heard of the term “event-enabled marketing” but I think it’s a great approach especially for stores!

    • April 4, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Thanks, Danielle, for the comment. Marketing used to be well above the sales funnel and certainly not personal. Technology gives us a way to reach individuals through email, social media, etc. and that makes marketing suddenly about sentiment, location, inventory and other factors that change constantly and therefore need to be treated as discreet and correlated ‘events’. Brave new world.

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