For the last few years, the fate of brick-and-mortar stores, along with their prospects for retail customer retention, looked uncertain, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. The U.K. saw a five-year peak of store closures in 2022, which seemed to signal the end of the traditional high streets and shopping centres of the past.
However, this statistic doesn’t give the full story and retail, like many other sectors, is seeing a massive resurgence in face-to-face and luxury experiences. While some stores are closing, in-person shopping is becoming more of an event and something that people are opting for as a leisure activity.
With eCommerce now the norm, we are seeing that many consumers are seeking a little more from their shopping. This is reflected by the fact that personalisation in-store continues to rise, and we are seeing more and more luxury stores opening (the amount grew by 77% across Europe). Call it a yearning for nostalgia (another trend tipped to increase in 2024) or just the ability to see goods for themselves, brick-and-mortar is seeing a renaissance.
The question is, how can you as a retailer maximise this desire by using technology? And can you use it to boost retail customer retention as well?
The Rising Importance of Personalisation in Retail and Its Impact on Customer Retention
As mentioned, personalisation in retail has transitioned from a luxury to a necessity. With shoppers having the entire shopping world at their fingertips, they seek as much in terms of experience as they do for the goods themselves. This is thankfully a lot more feasible not least in part to advanced technologies such as phygital touchpoints, augmented reality (AR), and sophisticated data analytics.
You can leverage technology in a number of different ways, giving you the ability to have much more control over your customer retention. Taking this action means that regardless of your retail sector, you can gain deeper insights into customer preferences and behaviour patterns, which is invaluable for crafting a more targeted and effective retail strategy.
The key shift from an older retail model is that the customer journey doesn’t end once the sale is complete. You can now enhance your post-sale interactions giving you a better chance of improving retention. There’s an old saying “out of sight, out of mind”, and in an increasingly busy world of online and in-person shopping, this has never been more pertinent.
The strongest way to make sure you are retaining visibility is by sending customised communications that are tailored to an individual consumer’s profile. Such targeted communications have proven more effective in maintaining customer engagement and encouraging repeat business. This strategy reflects an understanding that each customer is unique, and personalisation can significantly improve the customer experience.
Also, active consumer feedback analysis has become a central component of most customer retention strategies. By speaking to customers through various feedback mechanisms, you can measure customer satisfaction and swiftly address any issues or concerns. This proactive engagement is essential for building a strong, loyal customer base. It demonstrates to customers that their opinions are valued and that you, the retailer, are committed to continuous improvement.
Something important to note is that personalisation isn’t a new thing, however, the ability to access data at this granular level has meant that the personalisation for any company can be more nuanced. Deeper knowledge means that the offers and promotions are more likely to hit the right mark with their audience, leading to more take-up. If the offers don’t work, then the technology can spot this before it becomes a problem and develop other solutions. This approach has both short-term gain and long-term benefits as customers feel that their unique preferences are being catered to.
Other Retail Customer Retention Strategies
These tailored communications following purchase are just one way to retain your customers after the transaction. The technology that allows this also allows for a great many other ways of keeping customers loyal.
In-Store Digital Experiences
By installing digital touchpoints and experiences within a store itself, like interactive kiosks, virtual fitting rooms, or immersive product demonstrations, you can significantly enrich the shopping experience. What’s even better is that these technologies not only provide entertainment and novelty to the shoppers but also offer valuable information and personalised recommendations.
Social Media Integration
Social media is now very much a part of daily life and if a retailer can hone in on this, it can take another step towards being even more involved. By bringing together the in-store experience with social media you can further enhance customer engagement. Features like in-store photo opportunities that encourage social sharing, or QR codes that can be scanned for special deals or prices, can create a buzz around the brand and drive repeat visits.
Loyalty Programs Powered by Technology
Modern loyalty programs surpass traditional methods like collecting stamps on a card or points on a system. By merging customer purchase history and preferences through technology, you can offer more valuable rewards and incentives to your customers. For example, retailers could offer customers special offers on their favourite products or give them early access to new releases. This means the customer feels special and encourages more chances to purchase. Identifying lifestyle patterns, such as veganism, ensures rewards are relevant for that particular person.
Real-Time Inventory Management
One of the biggest frustrations with in-store shopping, and online as well to a degree, is availability. Adequate stock and product availability to meet demand significantly impacts customer experience. Real-time inventory management systems enhances personalisation, offering suitable alternatives or the option to reserve items when they’re back in stock.
Event and Workshop Hosting
In-store events and workshops are a great way to turn a retail space into an active hub and social space. By using technology and data garnered from customers, you can schedule and manage in-store events, attracting more foot traffic, and even winning potential new customers. Tailored to customer interests, these events can range from product demonstrations to special launches and more.
Boost Retail Customer Retention By Using Tech
There are many different ways that in-store technology is able to, and will continue to, bolster customer retention in retail. Staying ahead in a rapidly changing area requires clear innovation and thinking about how to use the data. From the simple concept of personalisation to allowing those details to create exciting and fun events and offers for the consumer, technology really has the chance to enrich both the company’s revenues and the consumer experience overall.
refive offers a wide range of tools and functionality designed specifically for omnichannel retailers. From capturing data through digital recipts, to offering more chances to engage your customers, refive enables you to make the customer experience the main focus. To find out more, get in touch today for a demo.