Talk, goes the saying, is cheap. For retailers, nothing could be further from the truth. In a connected world, where customers shop across both channels and borders, it’s often a time-consuming, resource-intensive task for retailers just to find out who their customers are – and that’s before retailers have even begun to look at how best to open conversations with these customers.
Yet retailers have to do this work. In the age of the internet, when information is instantly available, consumers – which of course means all of us – have come to expect instant answers to even the most complex questions. Further complicating matters, consumers today demand high levels of personalisation.
When retailers are operating in a home territory, this can be tough to deliver. The potential difficulties only grow when it comes to cross-border shoppers. Just how should a British or French retailer talk with a Polish or Danish customer? There’s a constant risk of miscommunication here, of cultural nuances missed and misinterpreted.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the evolving culture of the internet helps retailers here. The internet is a place where people freely share information, especially via social media. As Paul Skeldon notes in our feature on connected customers, in doing this they often create content that can help retailers tell stories in new and engaging ways.
More than this, customers’ interactions with the internet begin and maintain conversations. Similarly, retailers’ marketing efforts begin and maintain conversations – or at least they should do if they’re to be effective. The internet is a babble of conversation, some of it inconsequential from an individual retailer’s perspective, some of it crucial to the future of the business.
Increasingly, the most successful retailers spend time and money honing in on important conversations. They accept that talk isn’t cheap but that it requires investment. This isn’t going to change in the near future. If anything, as leading retailers interact with consumers across Europe – consumers, remember, who are increasingly happy to shop across borders – investment in Brand Engagement via social media, localisation and ensuring consistency across channels will only become more important.