Where everybody knows your name: achieving old-school retailing, with a modern spin

David Buckingham, CEO, Ecrebo, discusses the role that technology plays in elevating retailers

Like the well-known theme song from the 1980s US sitcom, Cheers, it wasn’t that long ago when a local retail store was a place ‘where everybody knows your name’.

Store employees and managers put a lot of effort into making more intimate interactions with their customers, and as a result, knew a great deal about their lives – like if the family had a new baby or if their in-laws were in town for a visit.

The usual

More importantly, they made it a priority to know each customer’s preferences and their regular orders. In fact, it was not uncommon for a shopper to say “I’ll have the usual” when frequenting their favourite retail store. To put it into modern day parlance, retailers had a one-to-one relationship with their customers at the point of sale – it was personal and it was brilliant.

But, since that time, the retail industry has grown and become more globalised with more channels and increased competition – leaving this type of personalised relationship by the wayside. Traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers often struggle to keep up with online retailers, simply because they don’t know as much about in-store customers as their e-commerce counterparts. What’s more, Amazon and other retail giants continue to disrupt the industry – doubling down on personalisation efforts and winning the loyalty of shoppers.

In order to get closer to customers and win back their loyalty, savvy retailers must look to the past to provide a blueprint for their future. How? The answer is simple: retailers must re-evaluate their loyalty schemes.

Make loyalty immediate and integrated, and win the favour of shoppers

While it is important to embrace the online channel, it should be part of a more holistic approach to communicate with customers. Given that 90% of purchases are still made in the store, retailers who move too far online and fail to engage with their customers in-store risk missing out on significant opportunities. After all, it is much easier to engage with a shopper when they’re already in store!

In today’s retail climate, it can take months for a retailer to send targeted promotions that are linked to a customer’s purchase history and preferences. In today’s always-on world, that is much too slow. To achieve maximum, real-time impact in the store, targeted promotions tied to purchase history need to happen immediately at the point of sale. This strategy keeps customers coming back, encourages them to spend more and builds long-term loyalty. But it should not end there. Retailers must also engage with in-store customers and execute campaigns that can be integrated with other marketing initiatives, both online and offline. An email or a piece of direct mail can help drive shoppers into the store, but a targeted and relevant offer or message will incentivise them to return.

Give modern retail customers the personalisation of years past

It’s more important than ever before to secure customer loyalty through personalised, relevant in-store offers. Ironically, because of their recent experiences with large online retailers that have essentially made customisation and personalisation the norm, research has shown us that shoppers now actually prefer it while shopping, both online or in the store! But if we examine the retail industry’s current personalisation offerings, we can clearly see that a gap exists between 21st century shopper expectations and the reality of what retailers are currently providing them.

Personalisation, especially in the store, is the key to breaking through the noise and the competition. Today’s retailers need to be able to anticipate and surpass customer expectations. The best way to achieve this is to take advantage of physical stores by utilising the valuable customer data available right there at the point of sale, in real-time. These insights will help retailers to truly get to know each individual customer and reward them with relevant offers and messages based on previous purchases or the items in their shopping basket.

By providing customers with the shopping experience of old, retailers can make their mark on the future.

Ecrebo offers POS-based technology that enables retailers to deliver targeted offers at the till alongside paper or digital receipts.

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