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Mobile engagement helps retail overcome survey fatigue

By Retail Technology | Friday April 11 2014

Mobile customer engagement expert Tony Busa questions why up to 80% of shoppers walk out of stores without making a purchase? Equally important, he asks how do you convert them?

These questions weigh on retailers, but most aren’t equipped to answer it according to Tony Busa, director of marketing at Benbria Corporation

Traditional receipt-based surveys can tell retailers what made 20% of their customers buy. But receipt-based surveys can’t help retailers reach shoppers who walk out without buying. 

What is more, Busa asserts, is that they cannot help retailers directly engage their mobile-savvy millennial and Gen X consumers at the decisive moment in their shopping experience. 

“Real-time mobile customer engagement solutions change the game by offering retailers a means to connect and communicate with all shoppers, understand why they don’t buy and turn them into loyal customers,” he said. 

Why customer engagement matters

Recent studies show a positive correlation between engaging with shoppers and increasing instore sales conversion rates. A report by Kurt Salmon determined that by engaging with 30% more shoppers, retailers could increase their conversion rates by 50%.

“The key for omnichannel retailers is to create more opportunities to engage and communicate with instore shoppers in real time,” Busa said. “Connecting associates with shoppers at the decisive moment in the shopping experience can help retailers convert more sales and create more upsell opportunities. 

“These interactions also uncover operational issues that hinder the shopper experience. By addressing customer questions and concerns in real time, retailers can improve customer satisfaction, increase same-store sales and generate new revenue opportunities.”

Retail’s failure to engage

Busa argues that traditional receipt-based surveys are not operations-oriented or designed for real-time communications. “They don’t capture or address concerns that can arise when a shopper ponders a purchase in a store. The main purpose of receipt-based surveys is to collect data that can help retailers react to trends and bolster their marketing campaigns.

“Insights from survey data come too late to influence shoppers’ buying decisions, address operational issues or enhance the shopper experience in real time. Shoppers who complete surveys typically do so well after they’ve left the store. It can take months for retailers to collect responses, analyse data and extract meaningful insights. 

“Retailers can try to apply these insights to shopper interactions, but they’re always reacting based on aggregated data. And aggregated data won’t help them connect with shoppers and showroomers on a personal level, engage them in meaningful conversations or turn them into customers.”

So the narrow scope of receipt-based surveys limits opportunities for engagement. At most, surveys target the 20% of shoppers who make instore purchases. “But growing survey fatigue continues to drive completion rates down,” he added. “Even with prize incentives, fewer than 1% of instore purchasers — the vocal minority — take the time to respond to receipt-based surveys. 

“What about the other 99% of buyers? And what about all those shoppers who walk out without buying?”

Engaging a new generation 

Mobile devices and social media give a voice to the silent majority. A study conducted by Motorola Solutions revealed that 81% of millennial and 73% of Gen X consumers use mobile devices for shopping. “This behaviour highlights a new culture of connectedness, brand co-ownership and immediacy,” Busa continued. 

“Mobile-social consumers feel strong bonds with their brands. They want a say in these brands in exchange for their loyalty. And when they shop, they expect to have their questions and concerns addressed on the spot, while they are in the store. Omnichannel retailers want to capitalise on this cultural shift and connect with mobile-social consumers. 

“Mobile customer engagement solutions help retailers succeed by giving them a means to focus staff attention on each shopper’s experience as it unfolds. Instead of reacting to aggregated receipt-based feedback, retailers have the opportunity to connect shoppers with associates, establish a real-time dialogue and resolve their concerns before they leave the store. These connections can be made in person, through a call centre, via a mobile website or over SMS.”

Mobile customer engagement benefits

Mobile customer engagement technology can empower omnichannel retailers to connect and communicate with shoppers on their own terms, in real time, using their choice of media. Busa said these products help retailers achieve five key outcomes that aren’t possible with receipt-based surveys:

  1. Connect with all shoppers — Mobile customer engagement allows retailers to communicate with buyers, showroomers and non-buyers during their experience. The ubiquity and ease of use of mobile-based engagement generates high response rates (15% to 34%) compared to receipt-based surveys (fewer than 1%).
  2. Improve operational excellence — The real-time operational capabilities of mobile customer engagement solutions make it easy for shoppers to get help and offer valuable insights on products, prices, selection and service. Retailers can use shopper input to motivate employees and improve operations before the next shopper walks into the store.
  3. Create a private, shopper-led dialogue — Mobile customer engagement solutions foster two-way dialogue between the shopper and the retailer. The shopper gains a chance to be heard. The retailer gains an opportunity to respond in real time to satisfy the shopper, convert a sale, resolve an operational issue and build a customer relationship.
  4. Drive real-time action and resolution — Mobile-based engagement empowers associates to take responsibility for the customer experience. Staff members (associates or call agents) are notified when shoppers ask for help — and armed with operations-oriented tools and insights that can help solve the problem and convert the sale.
  5. Pre-empt negative reviews — With mobile engagement solutions, retailers can connect with shoppers privately and resolve issues before they reach social media. Real-time action can help retailers overcome negative experiences, draw out positive reviews, and inspire new levels of brand evangelism.

Instore mobile use is a central part of the shopping experience for millennial and Gen X consumers. “For omnichannel retailers, the mobile device represents a promising new medium for connecting with — and winning over — these prized demographics,” Busa advised. 

“Real-time mobile customer engagement solutions offer retailers the means to use the mobile device to communicate in real-time and forge stronger bonds with mobile-social shoppers.”

He concluded: “By adopting these technologies, retailers can increment the value of receipt-based surveys and realise a tangible return on investment through improved customer satisfaction, increased instore sales conversions and new revenue opportunities.”

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