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Editor’s Comment (IRM57)

CONNECTING WITH customers is something that permeates every part of the retail organisation. From buying through to the warehouse, everyone has an impact on the customer experience. For customers to be aware of a retailer and find them in the first instance, through to considering their products (and prices), making the purchase and then receiving a good enough experience to return as a repeat customer.

By building loyalty – and consistently exceeding expectations – a shopper can move from not having heard about your brand to being an advocate, telling their friends, family, blog readers et al how much they love you and your products, service, stores…

In this issue of InternetRetailing, we investigate how retailers are bending every aspect of the organisation, processes and technology to connect with the customer – not just for a transaction, but repeatedly and at scale over a ‘lifetime’.

Can customer loyalty be bought by issuing a loyalty card though and the data that its use gathers? This question of loyalty comes up repeatedly throughout this issue as we look at consumer opinion, innovations in mobile and loyalty and various aspects of the retail organisation and their impact on progressing customers from shoppers to advocates.

With the recent launch of the Sparks loyalty programme by Marks and Spencer, the competition to woo customers and make them loyal seems to be getting more complex than it has ever been, believes Dr Alexandra Ranzinger, founder of loyalty consultancy workinghead.

“For many years, traditional retail driven loyalty programmes have dominated the market place: Tesco with its Clubcard; Sainsbury’s with Nectar; and Boots lead the pack. With the growing awareness around data-driven marketing, ease of digital data capture and low cost solutions for small retailers, more schemes are being launched. However, in the name of being innovative or different, many of these have turned out to be complicated to understand,” she says.

A recent YouGov survey conducted in the UK market for the Loyalty Partner Group brought out insights indicating that the loyalty landscape in the next few years could shape out rather differently than where it is going now.

Connecting with the customer has always been important to retail, but these days connecting in the right way at the right time with the right information and above all the right experience is increasingly becoming key.

This rise in app use, for example, is not only fuelling the growth of m-retailing past the 50% mark, according to IMRG’s latest figures, but we’re also starting to see renewed interest among retailers in loyalty and how to build that into the mobile experience.

Mobile Editor Paul Skeldon comments: “Connecting with customers has created something of a surprise mini-trend in early 2016: shoppers are increasingly making more use of apps to ‘do’ mobile commerce, with the upshot that more retail is being done on mobile than ever before. This is all because experience and convenience have finally merged – at least in consumers’ minds – and many apps are starting to deliver.”

Creating that contextual engagement is something on which Mobify has been working. In his guest article CEO Igor Faletski examines the art and science of creating extraordinary shopping experiences through the unique capabilities of modern mobile devices.

Recruiting, engaging and retaining customers is a priority for any retailer – but as Penelope Ody discovers not all of those customers will add to the profits and some may prove loss-making. She investigates why understanding customer profitability is a major challenge in today’s omnichannel world.

Michael Ross, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, DynamicAction has written a number of articles over the years for InternetRetailing on analytics, levers, KPIs and reports available to retailers. In his latest article, ‘From crystal meth to crystal math’ he shares his view of the role of the merchandiser in a customer-centric world.

“Many retailers are making grand statements about their newfound customer-centricity. However, the reality of what that means in practice is still widely varied, often confused and can be devastating to a business if they get it wrong. The quick fix ‘crystal meth’ of customer promotions has to transform into the longer-term healthy growth driven by ‘crystal math’ reports and metrics,” he says.

Looking ahead from this issue, the team at IR Towers look forward to seeing you at the InternetRetailing Expo which is taking place at Birmingham’s NEC on 27 and 28 April. With 8 conferences, 15 clinics, 20 workshops and more than 300 exhibitors it’s going to be an engaging place.

Emma Herrod


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