Turning Retail Footfalls into Retail Gains

So how well do you use the customer information that you gather? If at all, the only aim that you have is to use the information for sending mass SMS’ and emails telling the customer about the various discounts you are having at your store, you are at risk of losing him /her for good. Caroline Papadatos, senior vice –president- International at LoyaltyOne shares some interesting do’s and don’t you need to keep in mind.

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There is no simple formula for turning retail footfalls into financial gains. In fact, it takes an army of retail specialists in marketing, merchandising, operations, supply chain, employee training and countless other retail activities to deliver retail performance.  With the recent changes to FDI in India, that job just got harder.  The expected influx of new brands, fast-track modernization of stores, increased scale of retail operations and mounting competition will have retailers sharpening their pencils. Traditionally, brand building has been enough to drive customer footfalls, but rapid-fire brand extensions and the exploding digital noise is taking its toll.  With media fragmentation and message overload, Indian consumers, like retail customers the world over, are rapidly reaching a saturation point. The old ways of connecting with customers through massive media spends for brand salience and image building are being eclipsed by a new reality: the customer is not listening.

So what’s the answer? While executional excellence in product quality, real-estate, supply chain and pricing are paramount, retailers should recognize the hidden asset of customers and mine the predictive power of their data.

The new practice of retail marketing demands a fundamental shift from brand marketing to customer marketing, and the mapping of a customer journey that starts with brand awareness and ends with customer advocacy.  Somewhere in that continuum, the retailer needs to connect with their customer, identify them by name and build a relationship. Without that, customers are just “eyeballs and footfalls”, faceless, nameless and indistinguishable from one another.

Data is the key to turning footfalls into retail gains. The marketer’s journey still begins with the traditional measures of brand consideration; building retail awareness, building a positive attitude to brands and incenting trial.  But at the point that the customer enters the store to make his or her first purchase online or in the mall, retailers need to make it their mission to identify that customer with contact information, and obtain enough data to prompt their next purchase.

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From this standpoint, the kirana owner has organized retail beat. He knows his customer by name, their families, their likes, dislikes, and buying patterns. Without data or predictive modeling, he knows who pays and can anticipate their needs. If Indian retailers are going to stay ahead of the retail transformation and heightened competition that FDI forebodes, they will have to put customers in their corner. It starts with the ability to collect customer data and use it in a way that is respectful and relevant. Retail customers are mistrustful of providing their data because they have been deluged with sms spam. Today in India, Below-the-Line individualized data is being used to drive Above-the-Line mass marketing activities, and it’s making customers angry and cynical.

Assuming Indian retailers can curb the misuse of data, retail marketers can start the work of activating that customer, lifting their spend and building loyalty. There are 3 keys to moving that customer from a casual drop-in to a regular shopper.

Rewards – like any relationship, the customer proposition has to be a win-win for both the retailer and the customer.  If the retailer is asking for repeat purchase, bigger basket sizes and retention in the face of competition, the customer is looking for their loyalty to be rewarded. It could be in the form of discounts, special promotions or loyalty points but whatever it is, it should be offered selectively to customers to reward them for their individual business. Nothing makes a customer happier than knowing he’s getting something reserved for the few.

Recognition–customer data gives you the means to recognize your best customers every time they enter your store. If you have a loyalty program, you will have a record of every transaction across all channels. Recognition can be as simple as knowing their name and greeting them in the store, but as customers give you more business they will expect you’ll go the extra mile. It could be a special store opening, party invitations, valet parking, home delivery or countless other experiences that signal that you value their business.

Relevance – communications that are targeted using transactional and multi-channel data consistently deliver increased response rates at lower cost, with lower opt-outs. Best customers are always multi-channel, but if we want customers to engage with brands in social media, web, in-store or digital communications, we have to reward them with targeted and relevant messages.  If the offer is a discount on the case for the camera I bought last week, or South Indian recipes that I can use with my newly purchased XX, you can be sure your customer is interested.
As customer management practices take hold in India, retailers will increasingly need to account for their marketing spends in ways that are measureable and ROI-driven. The old school of brand impressions, frequency and reach is being supplanted by customer acquisition, activation, lift, shift and frequency measures. Even in recession-stricken retail markets, best practice global retailers have developed customer marketing platforms that deliver sustained channel savings and incremental growth from their loyal customers.  As footfalls are identified as customers, data will translate into retail gains, but the journey starts with the single step of collecting customer data.
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About Caroline Papadatos, SVP International at LoyaltyOne:
Caroline is a senior loyalty leader with deep expertise in brand, marketing, customer management and CRM. A successful change agent, she has demonstrated experience in designing and executing transformation customer loyalty strategies for retail clients and partners.

About LoyaltyOne – global leader on consumer insights and strategy, loyalty marketing and customer experience management.
LoyaltyOne: aims to transform the landscape of the Indian loyalty industry by creating value through customer centric marketing, retail analytics, customer lifecycle management, data privacy and usage.

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RAI
Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.