Engaging with your Customers in the Physical World

For years, retailers have been engaging with their customers in the digital world by utilising e-mail blasts, web-based content and even broadcast or 'blast' short messages.

They would typically offer their customers either generic marketing information, or in the best case, partially tailored content.  

These types of engagements have provided some amount of success for retailers, however this approach has always been based upon the concept of 'target many, reach few'.  

Plexure has worked with some of the largest and most successful retailers in the world and through real-world programs, have proven that when you take into account the customers physical environment and the associated contextual data, that the conversion rate of those customers increases dramatically.

During these programs we have seen increases in key metrics such as a 2X loyalty registration increase, a 2X usage of loyalty accounts, a 1.3X mobile app engagement/usage, frequency increased by 1.5X and redemption rates increases up to 4X, which all led to an increase in basket size/ticket amount of up to 40%.  

That's why this all matters so much, when customers feel like the engagement is personal and relevant to their current environment, they feel closer to the brand and are willing to spend more with them.  

As the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand globally there are more and more opportunities to be able to engage with your customers in relevant and interesting ways. However in this article we will discuss several of the most popular and easiest ways to use proven technologies that are readily available and widely deployed already today.  

Before we discuss the channels or mechanisms to recognize customers with, we should discuss the means by which we communicate with them.  

Traditionally when you want to get content to a customer on their mobile device, you use one of two common methods: Short Message Service (SMS) and/or push notifications.  Engagement does work with either of these methods, however Push Notifications have several substantial benefits over SMS: 

1) Push notifications are considered less intrusive.

2) A push notification allows for an easy redirect of the customer inside your app to deliver specific content, offers, and advertisements.

3) Push notifications are not limited to 160 characters like SMS.  This doesn't mean that you cannot use either of these methods, however we have found much higher levels of engagement when utilizing push notifications as opposed to SMS.  For more information about push notifications, what they are, and when to use them, please see this article

Geolocation - Geolocation in this context allows for recognition of a customer's current geographic location based upon the GPS location of their mobile device.  This typically provides a high level of accuracy to as low as +/- 50 meters, and whilst you can get more specific than that, the accuracy quickly diminishes below that 50 meter mark. Geolocation provides a great mechanism for identifying those customers that appear to be within the geographic range of a specific location, so that you might engage with them through an offer or advertisement with the intent of driving them to your location.  

Use Case:  Through the use of Geolocation, we recognize that Sally, who is a customer who frequently browses content on your web site (but hasn't been to your retail location in 6 months) is approximately 2 km away from your location near the mall. Because we recognize that she is so close to the location, we can then push to her mobile device some content enticing her to visit the store for a great deal, e.g. on one of the items she has been consistently browsing on your website.  For more information on the use of Geolocation and how it might best apply to your situation, please see this article.  

Beacons - Beacons are a great way to recognise your customer's physical location at a much more accurate level that Geolocation can provide. Typically a beacon can accurately recognize a customer down to about 2 meters.  This allows for a much more specific type of engagement with the customer because your can narrow down their location so closely.  This technology is typically deployed at your physical retail location and can support a vast number of use cases.

Use Case:  As Sally arrives at the front door of your retail location, we recognize her and send her a push notification welcoming her back to the store and remind her of the location of the product she had been browsing on the website recently:  "Welcome back Sally!  Thanks so much for visiting today!  If you're still interested in the red dress you were looking at online, be sure to check it out in aisle 7 in the women's clothing department".  

There are a number of considerations and methods to engage with customers utilising beacons, for more information about what they are, how they work, and the best way to use them, read more here.

Digital Displays - Digital displays are not a new mechanism to engage with customers, however what is still relatively new is using those displays as a mechanism to provide contextual and personal content and interaction with customers.  For example, today, in conjunction with an analytics platform ,you can dynamically adapt the content of a digital display based upon the buying habits of customers that are likely present - given the current environmental factors such as time of day, weather, local events, or other real world considerations.  Additionally, if deployed in conjunction with beacons, you can adapt that content to be specific to a given individual customer and even be able to push them QR codes on the display and allow them to receive redemption offers directly from that display.  

Use Case:  Now that Sally is in the store and we have reminded her of the location of the dress she was browsing, using a second beacon (that is co-located with a digital display in the women's clothing department) that she approaches, we dynamically change the content on the display to show the specific dress she had been browsing with a 10% discount offer.  Once she leaves the immediate area of that display, we could then revert the content to items that our analytics have shown customers have a propensity to buy - such as on Wednesdays when the current temperature outside is above 22C and the sun is shining.  

Digital displays offer a great way to engage with your consumers in a dynamic way and allows for fast deployment and low costs.  To learn more about how we deploy digital displays, please see this article


These are simple examples of ways to engage with your customers in the physical world, however the number of use cases is almost endless and with the continued adoption of IoT, the channels by which to recognize and engage with your customers increases every day.  For more information or to see how Plexure can help you determine how it can best serve your business, contact us here!

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