Most retailers know that it pays to focus on your fans and the ways they use and interact with technology. But they often leave it to the marketing department to do so, hijacking conversations on social media or trying to impress us with cat pictures.

How does this actually make your customer’s life better? Why are you hung up on trying to entertain them for the sake of a few hollow “likes”-- instead of actually focusing on what your customers love about you: your products, your stores, your service. Substance.

It’s important to use technology to wow your customers at every stage of their journey and give them something truly worth talking about and sharing: GREAT service.

Enhance in advance

Adding substance starts by catching a customer’s attention before they even enter your store. But instead of passively engaging them through vanilla online advertising, give them a real reason to get out of the house.

Providing online tools such as stock checkers and reservation systems have always encouraged customers to make the trip in-store. But it’s possible to truly bridge this online-offline gap by providing in-store services that customers can book online. It’s no longer just a trip to the shops but an actual event that customers can get excited about.

The Apple Store is an ideal example of a retail experience with substance. The company’s Genius Bar offers high quality customer support for free - all you have to do is make an appointment online beforehand. Friendly staff provide in-store support and understand your experience level from past purchases linked to your Apple ID. Technology makes every step seem seamless.

As a technology company you might think Apple is an unfair example. Actually it’s just about finding a service to compliment your products. Waitrose lets customers book cookery classes and buy gift vouchers online. Pets At Home even offer the opportunity to book in-store sessions with nutrition consultants for your furry friends.  Two reliable ways to add value and attract customers into stores.

You can then use this initial engagement as a reason to connect with customers. Remind them of their appointment or let them know their products are ready to collect - essentially make their lives easier.

Once through the door

Once a customer has swung into your store this is your true time to shine. You are 100% in their gaze. They are there to shop and, if you can use technology to add true substance here,  you’ll not only win recurring customers but real brand advocates.

This is where the ‘Wow’ factor comes into its own. In-store technology gives you the opportunity impress everyone from your biggest fans to casual visitors and even passers-by. So before investing in any in-store technology ask yourself, how can use it to delight customers?

A classic example is beacon technology. The benefits are clear for retailers as beacons offer insights into in-store habits. But there’s a whole host of ways this technology can be used to add true substance to the shopping experience. From letting customers learn more about nearby products and access exclusive offers to giving them the power to summon in-store assistance - all from their own device. That’s true empowerment.

Again it’s about tailoring your approach, offering services that add value to your products and making a customer feel special online and, importantly, in-store. Do that and soon they’ll be telling others about what your brand has done for them.

You may have won the battle…

So you’ve used technology to enchant a customer into your store, given them the ideal shopping experience and they’ve made their purchase. Mission accomplished? Not quite. It’s time to strike whilst the iron is hot, remind them it was more than just a one night stand and you’re there for the long term.

Just like a waiter in a good restaurant will ask how your your meal was, you should make sure your customer was satisfied with their shopping experience. It’s as simple as a receipt automatically sent by email thanking them for their visit alongside contact details in case issues arise. This could also be the time to reward them with a first purchase bonus and introduce them into the customer loyalty scheme. Remember it’s the personal touch that counts.

Overall your greatest customers can become your biggest advocates if you succeed in making their purchase into a true experience. Use technology to help your customers escape mundanity and you’ll have them coming back for another taste again and again.

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