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What i learnt one Sunday at a store !

A few months back I recall an incident, having walked with my wife into one of the leading upmarket gourmet stores. Great ambience.. lovely decor and neatly arranged items. Helpful staff at every corner and overall everything wonderful.

Time for check out. Last mile as i would say.

It was a big occasion, "Mother's day" and I see a promotional poster behind the check out counter. A nicely executed social media campaign - ‘Send a tweet and get a discount’. Time for the 'moment of truth'.

I pull out my phone.. read the message in detail…"Compose a tweet using the 'said hashtag' mentioning the 'said twitter' handle. Display it to the staff and you are done”.

I diligently compose a tweet, think about my mom, write one cute message and I am ready to show it to the courteous staff at the counter. Happy to have saved some Indian Rupees 400/-. Yes, big money.

As i show the tweet, my smile and the sales person’s is short lived.

Disaster falls. Panic hits the roof. He looks around. Has no clue. Gestures to his other colleagues. They have no clue either. None of them. This is a big amount to be passed back to the customer. I stand petrified. Almost like a criminal.

After 20 mins the commotion ends inconclusively. They have no solution. Fortunately, they give up. I am rewarded the 'offer' miraculously. They look at the tweet again and it stays as a draft tweet which never saw the light of the day. What a pity !

Well, its not over yet. In front of me is a small black touch screen device, wired and pristine clear calling for feedback. Wow! By the time the final billing happens let me write something, I thought. After all I am happy with the store experience, pleasant courteous staff and the recently earned INR 400/-

Hey. but there is no feedback option. Just press the smiley icon on a range from 1 to 10. Submit and go. Yes, go. There is no option for anyone to know me, my shopping, my thoughts, my feedback, my phone number. Its a stand alone device with no data capture. Oh no !

It was then that i thought about all those things we say in our meetings. Didn’t we say:

- Managing anonymous data and making it rich to provide great customer experience was building blocks for lasting relationship building

- Didn’t we say we reward users for interactions and not transactions.

- Didn’t we say brand loyalty is built across the journey looking at a consumer holistically based on his/her purchase journey.

- Didn’t we say a great in-store engagement strategy is key to a great customer experience?

Maybe this brand should just reboot and relook at all this once fresh. You have the ingredients, and your approach seems correct. Your social media team is working overtime, maybe. But remember just getting the consumer to the store doesn’t warrant a sale or a repeat sale, in this case…

But I will come again to see what you are learning. Next time your sales person should hand over the wine which I missed last time.. Of course you can connect my mobile with the product in your shop, like Winewoo does. You engagement strategy within the store will be the most important for your overall customer engagement. You should also know if I did something online before coming to your store.. You will get so richer by connecting these data points. Physical stores aren't going anywhere.. 90% of all retail revenues in 2016 were from brick and mortar retail.. Get your teams and partner agencies to think innovative experiences. Yes, go with beacons if thats the case. By 2020 there will be 400 mn beacons deployed.. Brands like Carrefour, Target, Macy’s have got all sorted, as we speak.

And hello, next time you want to incentivise me, pls do so.. I am on my smartphone and I am sure you know frequent smart phone users spend 25% more money than standard shoppers.

Deloitte estimated, in 2016, $1.8 trillion in retail purchases was digital influenced.

Go ahead take those leaps.. Make your store the centre of a great brand experience. Forbes calls it ‘Clienteling’.

I am ready to see you again soon !

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