Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Marketing Channels Driving The Retailers

Abheek Talukdar, Aswini. R | FMS

New Marketing Channels Driving The Retailers

Marketing has transcended a long way from marketing 1.0 to marketing 3.0, from being product centric to people centric to value centric. So have the various means and channels of reaching your customer. Earlier the customer, walked up to buy, now, the retailers reach out to them, and be present at the right time, right place and to the right people. This opens door to new channels of marketing, not disparate from the traditional methods but new parallel ones to support the traditional practices and enhance the brand presence.

Consumer Trends and New Brand Experience Expectation

Gone are the days when one could sell merely with convincing TV ads and celebrity endorsements. The consumers of today present a big challenge to the business. They lead a fast moving on-the-go life and are always Time starved. The science has made everything just a click-away for them, and people are now pro-technology unlike yesteryears when the society was resistant to any new technology. The tech-savvy customers now have access to ample information everywhere about everything. The web has now become an interactive platform; people not only get information but also share their experiences. This has increased the customer’s interconnectivity immensely. The retailers can’t hush any bad experiences or flawed products. The awareness about any product/service is so high that they are conscious and expect worthwhile value. Customers now want the special treatment and need to be feel like kings and queens. The need of the hour isn’t mass marketing rather a personalized experience is what is needed.

The New Set of Touch Points

The new channels powered by digital technology present the retailers with vast array of new touch-points for engaging with consumers and creating a differentiated brand experience.
New channels, such as mobile and social media, present retailers with new ways to connect with and engage the consumers. These new channels are not necessarily about driving transactions; instead, they enable retailers to transform the customer experience and engage with consumers more directly and in entirely new ways.

To successfully navigate these new channels requires retailers to:
  • Understand their customers and each segment’s cross-channel needs and shopping habits
  • Achieve brand alignment and consistency across channels to present one view of the retailer while tailoring experiences by channel where appropriate
  • Understand how to leverage the strengths of each channel to create a better overall brand experience
  • Drive loyalty and deliver a consistent brand experience by integrating front-end and back-end systems, data and services across all points of contact
Retailers, who engage with customers to provide a seamless, integrated brand experience across channels and meet customers’ expectations around transparency, personalization and collaboration, stand to reap significant benefits. Not only does the brand exposure of the retailers improve through customer touch-points; it helps retailers in increasing their revenue base due to increased traffic and loyalty of the retailers’ product, in turn improving the employee productivity and satisfaction.

The advantages of reaching customers by the use of newer channels are summarized.
  • Revenue Boost: The quintessential element of any retailer is revenue generation. Through the use of innovative and customer focused channels, the increase in the number of customers will imperatively improve the balance sheets of any retailer.
  • Traffic Opportunity: No retailer can improve their revenue without the increase of the number of customers. By providing ‘everywhere’ access and engaging in a 24/7 conversation with customers, traffic in all the channels in which the retailers performs in will increase boosting the revenue.
  • Loyalty Increase: Customer loyalty is a tough thing to attain and by providing a seamless, personalized experience across all channels, retailers can maintain that loyalty by providing focused and value products.
  • Employee Productivity and Customer Satisfaction Rise: Operating in different focused channels will better the employee productivity through increase of visibility in case of inventory, product info, critical tasks, long lines, business performance, etc. Focused products will indefinitely improve the customer service and satisfaction.
Instantly on using the 2D scan on the net, she is able to view the recipe, watch a cooking video of the chicken biryani, talks to a live expert about the cholesterol & fat level of the product and instantly receives a customer care call informing of the stores it is in.

The Changing Retail Experience Example: Mobile Marketing and Sales Support

The power of reaching the target customer using innovative channels can be seen from the following example. A certain housewife, Deepi on her way to the daily grocery notices a new ready-to-eat chicken biryani advertisement on the street and photographs the 2D Barcode attached.

After she is satisfied with the product and reads about the rave reviews on Twitter/Facebook and other social media sites, she goes to the store to buy the product. She scans her digital loyalty card at the retail store, which gives her discount schemes running in the store. The discount available through the advertisement is procured using her m-commerce mobile wallet, she pays the product and recieves a gift coupon from the store.

Finally, satisfied with the product, she rates the product on various social media websites. She also joins the facebook page and discusses the various recipes that she had tried. All in all, it is a win-win situation for both the customer and the retailer.

Whole Foods Market

With over 1.8 million followers on its account page and over 3,000 followers on twitter account, Whole Foods engage a 2-way dialogue with consumers about topics that are important to them – the environment, organic products, and product recommendations.

Missions App: The Mission App gives consumers an opportunity to explore new products, learn about healthy eating and engage in a conversation in their social networks. Consumers complete steps of varying difficulty and earn badges through their “Missions”. Users can access over 2,000 recipes, store information, store specials and a calendar of events for their local store and advice on cooking, nutrition, green living and food storage.

Target Corporation

It was the first retailer to offer the ability to scan a bar code directly from a mobile device at any store nationwide in the US and also initiated mobile coupons which let consumers redeem discount offers by scanning a 2D bar code at the point of sale.

Target customers can access their Target Mobile Gift Cards, view online assortments, check product availability and store locations, manage their Target gift registry and lists and browse the weekly ad all on their mobile phones. Target also offers mobile payment through a consumer’s mobile device.

Innovative Channel’s Indian examples


The innovation in marketing channel hasn’t spared anyone, even the big automobile players like Volkswagen are introducing campaigns like ‘Innovations for everyone’ and ‘Think Blue’ to have a long term approach to building loyal community by being present across all major social media platforms. Volkswagen has cashed on the new feature of Linkedin, the company page where they have already received a commendable 2772 recommendations on their 7 listed car models. This could generate sales and bulk orders for them.

The Future of Reaching the Customer

Best Buy came up with a unique channel to give customers the ultimate experience. Their idea was of providing Mobile Point of Sale and Manager Dashboard on iPod Touch.
Employees in nearly 27 Best Buy stores can search for product information and check out customers using a mobile point-of-sale system. Every department has an oversized barcode plastered on the adjacent wall. Customers can scan the barcode by store’s mobile app and download coupons or advertisements on the handset. It helped in eliminating paperwork and cost involved in buying POS hardware.

Key Challenges to Retailers

Siloed Metrics: Major problem for all retailers is that customer information is spread across different systems driving a lack of knowledge on customer engagement with the brand across segments. The lack of common customer experience metrics becomes prominent in the view that many retailers need customer behavior information to understand market.
New Channels Require New Model: Nowadays, Retailers make the mistake of using every channel alike like Face book or YouTube end up being copies of the website. New channels require connecting with consumers in new ways and understanding how customers want to use each channel. Thus, a lack of channel differentiation demands a new channel model.

Platform Integration: Though technology like CRM and SAP has made it much easy for retailers to keep track of all the customer data, companies’ still face issues in integration of existing channels with newer channels.

Rapidly Evolving Technology: With advent of changing technology, adoption of marketing channels isn’t sufficient enough to deliver the one-to-one personalized experience which the retailer seeks to achieve.

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