Can Wi-Fi Help Retailers Build New Relationships With Customers?
By guest author, Craig Crawford
In our previous articles in this series on the connected experience, we looked at actionable data, how Wi-Fi is driving a connected retail experience, engaging customers through technology, and building the network for real-time analytics.
In today's installment, guest author and industry consultant Craig Crawford, will look at actually how retailers can leverage Wi-Fi to create better relationships with customers.
Increasingly savvy customers with a tendency to shop around for the best deals are causing severe problems for retailers. These customers rarely have to buy a particular item from a particular retailer – they enter into a contract because they want to. This realization underscores the importance of properly understanding each customer, new or old, and building services that elevate their experience and lay the groundwork for an ongoing relationship.
So, what is the priority for retailers? Deciding what kind of relationship they want with their customers. All future business intelligence and IT developments will then need to be built to support and nurture that relationship.
Retailers already struggle to maintain relationships with customers they do know. Technology will be key to maintaining these relationships and building new relationships with new customers.
When it comes to in-store Wi-Fi and data collection, retailers often approach the challenge from the wrong angle. Wi-Fi is an IT issue, so logically the IT team appears to be best placed to deploy the necessary in-store infrastructure. But the security-first approach favored by IT policymakers is often at odds with customer expectations of instant gratification.
Designing an in-store Wi-Fi network in line with internal IT policy can be slow, time-consuming, and expensive. Retailers need to access Wi-Fi insights now if they are to create new competitive advantages, preferably using systems that require little or no management, and which are geared towards customer enablement first. “Easy” is the winning choice for customers and retailers.
A Wi-Fi deployment driven by IT departments could also see valuable Wi-Fi tracking data collected in silos, rather than made accessible via the connected cloud. There’s a risk of IT departments not “getting” context and analysis – instead seeing in-store Wi-Fi as a basic technical challenge.
The modern shopper values convenience. So data needs to be collected, analysed, and acted upon quickly. Stores need to invest in systems that yield the necessary raw data for customer profile creation efficiently, and with minimum manual intervention.
The data collected from Wi-Fi and other touch points can then be used to cultivate long-term customer relationships.
Moving forward, retailers need to empower all of their staff to act in line with the overarching data strategy. Shop workers would then have the power to apply local insights such as heat maps and footfall metrics to adjust individual stores to match their clients’ needs.
Many businesses assume that analysis needs to be performed centrally, simply because that’s what most big data users do. But the reality is that employees on the shop floor are often best placed to assess local data, drawing their own actionable insights and observations. This approach further customises the experience for local shoppers.
Finally, most shoppers think ‘I’m not worthy of a personal shopper’, and most retailers are unlikely to offer such a service to anyone but the very biggest spenders. But emerging technology offers a virtual equivalent. Using smartphone apps, and the detailed shopper’s profile built using Wi-Fi tracking and other data from the connected cloud, it is possible to make highly targeted, relevant offers and recommendations every time the shopper walks through the door.Craig Crawford is the founder of Crawford IT and former VP IT Strategy, Architecture & Relationships at Burberry.
All posts in this series: