Branding is not merely about differentiating products; it is about striking emotional chords with consumers. It is about cultivating identity, attachment, and trust to inspire customer loyalty.” – Nirmalya Kumar

“Designing these new shopping experiences is not just about immediate sales, but about creating opportunities to facilitate impulse purchases, up sell, and cross sell.
The challenge is in constructing an insightful, customer seamless shopping experience that integrates the instore, transactional, and post sale goals.
The experiences must converge to promote discovery in store and the continuation of the sales process at home or on the go”.

Ok, I am a sample of one, given like many others to my tribal rituals, some habitual purchase behaviour. While my personality does determine my behaviour, I also like all of us leave a trail of transactions, website visits , like certain customer experiences above others, have my favourite fashion and food retailers, tend to stay loyal to my café of choice and so it goes. Also, I listen to similar genres of music generally, read similar genres of literature, and use social media, and so on in reasonably traceable ways.

This is not defined by my demographic, however, what is interesting is that in the last six months (as a sample) not one retailer has customised an offer to me via any medium despite the obvious talk and trend towards the pre and post purchase customer experience.

I fly the one airline as a loyalist wherever I can, visit Melbourne at least weekly and they have all my details. I even have their app, and not once has a tailored offer pertaining to my flight come my way?

I could say the same of retailers that I frequent above others, and on occasion I might see some generic discount offer appear via SMS yet, I don’t shop them for a discount.

I carry my smartphone always, and am a walking trail of preferences, behaviour, like and otherwise as we all are, yet where are my retailers of choice?

Our department store retailers, clearly feeling the onslaught of many well known competitors and changing consumer behaviour still have my loyalty, yet apart from the traditional loyalty programs, do I have theirs?

Hands up those among us who have made a reasonably large purchase from one of our department stores and received a “how has it gone for you?” call or a link to a blog site, some post purchase contact?

Am I alone on this one? Or is it that we really haven’t mastered the art of gathering customer data to really build a targeted resonating pre purchase, purchase and post purchase experience for our consumers.

As I wrote recently and as we discuss and action with our clients increasingly; the need and opportunity now is to re-engineer the classic distribution footprint, from stimulating consumer interest, and facilitating the transaction instore (or in some cases online) to having an integrated highway of brand touch points such that:

I am buying into their brand and even product well before I set foot into their shops. The shop is a centre for inspiration, fulfilment and education, and the retailer of my choice stays in touch with me with highly targeted and relevant offers ensuring that I am a customer of their brand. With the touch points of that brand acting together to keep me engaged, socialised, listened to and above all relevant.

After all, anything else is just losing customers.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of retail consulting company, Retail Doctor Group. RDG builds business fitness for its clients. Interested in building your business results? Brian and his team can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or brian@retaildoctor.com.au.

First published through Inside Retail on the 13th of May 2015