Competition in the retail world is as cutthroat as ever. With so many retailers out there, the race is on to reach as many customers as possible with the best offers possible. Businesses that go into this race expecting to use traditional methods, however, will quickly find themselves falling behind the rest of the pack. We live in a much different world now where customers are more knowledgeable and empowered than ever before. Thanks to the internet, consumers can find out all they want to know about specific products before ever deciding to purchase them. This has forced retailers to raise their game when it comes to wooing current and prospective customers. It’s not enough anymore to simply offer a better product at a lower price. Today’s retail world requires businesses to offer a more complete and satisfying customer experience. To achieve this, many retailers are working hard to create what’s known as the 360-degree shopping experience.
As can probably be guessed from the term, the 360-degree shopping experience is essentially a way for retailers to provide offers and services tailored to the individual customer. This requires retailers to get to know each customer, understanding their motivations, desires, preferences, lifestyles, socioeconomic statuses, and many other diverse factors. This is far from an easy process, of course, which is why mastering it gives retailers a significant edge over their competition. Luckily, recent technological advances make delivering the 360-degree experience a less daunting task. Perhaps the most significant of these advances is the growing use of big data, but collecting detailed data on customers can still be a challenge.
Retailers have figured out that the best way to collect high quality data is to engage customers at every point throughout the customer journey. Gone are the days of the traditional customer lifecycle. In its place is the digital customer lifecycle, where customers proceed on a non-linear path that may include research on social media platforms, reading blogs and reviews, downloading relevant apps, and viewing ads on websites. From these sources, retailers can gather detailed insights about customers while following them every step of the way on this new customer journey. In the process, this allows retailers to engage in sentiment analysis and microsegmentation, which provides them with the data needed to specifically target certain customers with highly tailored and individualized offers.
This process of creating a 360-degree shopping experience is especially important considering that much of the control has shifted into the hands of the consumer. Engaging with them through other channels, such as social media or mobile apps, is incredibly important since so much consumer activity is now done outside of physical store locations. That’s not to say retailers are ignoring their brick-and-mortar stores. Physical locations are also great ways for retailers to gather data on their customers. For example, Line-of-Sight detection uses sensors which collect data from eye movements, essentially tracking where customers look when entering a store. In this manner, retailers are able to find patterns of consumer shopping habits and tailor the shopping experience to those habits. Equally important is how the data gathered from other channels can also be used at physical stores to improve the shopping experience. This effort of combining data gathered from various sources and channels makes up the heart of what the 360-degree experience is all about. Along with offering more personalized approaches to marketing campaigns, this constant contact with customers also helps to develop a deeper sense of loyalty. In the end, that may be the main drive behind the 360-degree shopping experience. Instilling a sense of community in shopping choices can help retailers keep customers for longer, which helps them move beyond simple price and product wars.
Through the use of big data and ad hoc analysis, retailers are getting a better picture of their customers by developing a 360-degree experience. By achieving a new level of understanding of consumers, retailers are in a better position to respond to needs and demands rather than waiting until it’s too late for action. As data gathering becomes more efficient and widespread, one can reasonably assume the 360-degree shopping experience will become even better and more streamlined, giving unprecedented levels of service to customers.