4 Ways to Improve the Retail Customer Experience

To make the customer experience central to their marketing strategy, retailers must thrive in offline (print) and online digital channels.

The retail customer experience is not an easily definable event – or even a series of events. It’s a complex relationship, not a checklist of dos and don’ts. And, like all relationships, it takes time and effort to develop. In recent years, it has become more challenging. Since the emergence of e-commerce and smart devices, amplified by crises like the pandemic, today’s customers insist on a “shopping anywhere” world. Retailers have no choice but to meet them where they are. What was once a relatively stable environment for marketing and advertising directors is now more like the 2022 hit movie Everything Everywhere All at Once.

 One of the critical elements to coping in this environment is the retailer’s ability to provide consistent messaging across a seemingly infinite number of platforms. Print-based marketing and advertising haven’t declined but have changed, increasing complexity and customization. And as online channels multiply, they, too, demand a flood of consistent messaging and product details. It seems overwhelming, but there are ways that retail merchandising planners and their IT manager partners can control that flow and improve the overall customer experience.

1. Go Beyond the Screen

The hybrid shopping experience has become a retail fact of life. Customers with smartphones frequently browse in brick-and-mortar stores, only to price check and even purchase the product they like on Amazon. But the real problem is not Amazon, per se. It’s that the brick-and-mortar chains’ smartphone apps are not as agile as those of their online rivals. Special offers and incentives from the print catalog or flyer are not reflected in the mobile app, and the customer’s experience  finding and buying products in person and online is too often separate.

This need not be the case. As detailed in a recent case study, home improvement giant Lowe’s achieved remarkable results in multichannel marketing for its 2,000+ locations. They did so by deploying Comosoft’s LAGO system to integrate the company’s product information management (PIM),  digital asset management (DAM), and other data systems with its marketing production hubs. The system allowed their merchandising planners to easily create customized versions of their printed materials and export the same offers and incentives to Lowe’s mobile app, which customers could use to locate specific products in the store.

2. Consistency and Customization

 The bane of complex, multichannel marketing is the overwhelming sea of data that describes each product. With so much data per product, even a single promotion can involve intensive (and costly) manual efforts to ensure everything is correct. The LAGO system automatically pulls all the related product data from PIM, DAM, and other systems to reduce overhead and consistently promote the right products for a particular region. It also allows for regional variations in print and interactive digital publishing applications.

All this activity happens behind the scenes, of course. The shopper sees a consistent customer experience of the retail brand across multiple touchpoints.

3. Work With Emerging Technology and AI

The modern customer experience also includes a remarkable degree of personalization, allowing the retailer to tailor its promotions to the needs and buying behavior of demographic or regional groups—even down to the individual level. But all that “magic” is based on the wise and responsible use of big data.

By definition, retailers have access to enormous volumes of data, including product data from the original manufacturers (stored in PIM, DAM, and other repositories) and transactional and feedback information from individual customers. Putting that data to work is the real challenge. One way of doing so is with LAGO’s Direct Individualized Marketing (DIM) module, which matches known customer preferences with detailed product data to create personalized, one-to-one communication via print and digital channels.

 Of course, discussing big data would only be complete with exploring the possibilities inherent in AI. Comosoft and DecaSIM revealed in a recent case study that AI tools can identify purchasing patterns, such as customer preferences for related products. When paired with LAGO’s ability to manage promotional campaigns, the AI tool enabled merchandising planners to make better product selections, significantly boosting store revenue.

4. Focus On the Product Experience

At the end of the day, a good customer experience depends on individuals finding the right product for them, being happy with their purchase, and developing a sense of loyalty to the retailer who made that possible. Over time, that relationship will lead to repeat purchases and increased word-of-mouth referrals.

 However, replicating such positive, brand-building experiences for thousands of customers and millions of products means that the retailer must have high data agility. Their advertising and marketing teams must expertly juggle vast amounts of data, synchronized across multiple systems, customized to the regional, demographic, and even individual level, and delivered across various print and digital channels. They must also do so affordably and under enormous time constraints.

That level of data agility is possible only with systems like Comosoft LAGO.

Find out more about Comosoft LAGO’s unique, multichannel approach. Or book a demo to see for yourself.