Where Every­body Knows Your Name…And They’re Always Glad you Came…” evokes for many, nos­tal­gic mem­o­ries of the hit 80s tele­vi­sion show about the Boston-based bar, Cheers. Who wouldn’t want to fre­quent an estab­lish­ment where every­one greeted you by name when you walked in the door, had your favorite draft beer wait­ing for you at the bar, and asked you detailed ques­tions about your morn­ing postal route? Patrons like Cliff, Norm and Frasier returned to Cheers over and over again because of the close rela­tion­ships they had built with the bar’s staff and other patrons. It was the first place they went when they had good news to share and the first place they went with bad news too, because every­one there (and us view­ers at home) knew them so well and were eager to be sup­port­ive through­out all of life’s ups and downs.

While con­sumers don’t nec­es­sar­ily crave the same type of close­ness with their favorite cloth­ing or elec­tron­ics brands, isn’t it time that multi-channel retail­ers took a les­son from the Cheers of the world and worked to make their vis­i­tors’ expe­ri­ences and inter­ac­tions with them more per­son­al­ized and fulfilling?

Con­sider a lux­ury retailer whose cus­tomers pre­fer to have a tac­tile inter­ac­tion with prod­ucts in stores. While most of its sales may actu­ally occur offline, this retailer still rec­og­nizes the impor­tance of pro­vid­ing a highly styl­ized and on-brand web­site expe­ri­ence for dig­i­tal vis­i­tors. No doubt its cus­tomers are also inter­act­ing with its brand across many other chan­nels in addi­tion to its offline and online store – per­haps on a mobile-optimized site via smart­phones, through mar­ket­ing emails, dis­play ads on third-party sites, social media chan­nels like Face­book and Pin­ter­est, as well as through its offline call cen­ters. When this retailer pro­vides a con­sis­tent brand expe­ri­ence across these chan­nels, it’s akin to form­ing that sort of well-worn rela­tion­ship enjoyed by the reg­u­lar patrons at Cheers.

And what about hav­ing a tablet strat­egy? The stag­ger­ing growth of tablet com­merce can hardly be ignored. Over the 2011 hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son, an Adobe Dig­i­tal Index report showed that tablet shop­pers out­spent PC shop­pers by 21% and smart­phone shop­pers by 54%. For a device cat­e­gory that had not yet been on the mar­ket for two years by last hol­i­day, this level of con­sumer adop­tion and will­ing­ness to use it for online trans­ac­tions was unprece­dented. This begs the ques­tion — do retail­ers need to opti­mize for mobile and tablet apps or mobile and tablet web­sites? Or, all of the above?

Today’s top retail­ers under­stand these ever-changing dynam­ics and con­sumer behav­iors and have embraced dig­i­tal as the back­bone of their multi-channel mar­ket­ing strate­gies. A recent study of nearly 150 multi-channel retail­ers by the Aberdeen Group details how some of the most inno­v­a­tive com­pa­nies are embrac­ing a holis­tic cross-channel approach to reach their cus­tomers at the right time, on the right device and with the right mes­sage. These brands are cre­at­ing deeper and long-lasting rela­tion­ships with their cus­tomers by pro­vid­ing per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences and antic­i­pat­ing their needs through tai­lored rec­om­men­da­tions, tar­geted and dynamic con­tent or pick­ing up within a call cen­ter inter­ac­tion right where the cus­tomer left off online.

Some of Adobe’s cus­tomers are on the front lines of such dig­i­tal per­son­al­iza­tion — by tai­lor­ing the online path for dif­fer­ent vis­i­tors based on pro­file attrib­utes and other vari­ables, Trav­e­loc­ity was able to increase incre­men­tal cross-sells of flight and vaca­tion pack­ages by 15%. Sony​.com achieved a 109% increase in rev­enue per vis­i­tor (RPV) after tar­get­ing per­son­al­ized home­page prod­uct images based on dif­fer­ent vis­i­tor inter­ests such as portable elec­tron­ics, com­put­ers and games.

The Aberdeen study shares how top retail­ers are align­ing their brands’ images across mul­ti­ple chan­nels, while pro­vid­ing per­son­al­ized and rel­e­vant expe­ri­ences to cus­tomers. Specif­i­cally, today’s best-in-class retail­ers are:

  • Pro­vid­ing a con­sis­tent brand image across all mar­ket­ing chan­nels and track per­for­mance in real-time with cross-channel ana­lyt­ics technologies
  • Uni­fy­ing their pric­ing and pro­mo­tions strate­gies across channels
  • Mak­ing mar­ket­ing and ana­lyt­ics invest­ments in emerg­ing chan­nels such as mobile and social as more cus­tomers flock there to research prod­ucts and to con­nect with like-minded shoppers

Exam­ples of this include under­stand­ing your cus­tomers and how they inter­act with a brand, no mat­ter where they are. Are they are lux­ury or bar­gain shop­per? Do they buy fre­quently or only when there’s a sale? Did they come to your online store from a mar­ket­ing email or Face­book link? Are they vis­it­ing your mobile site after talk­ing to a call cen­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tive yes­ter­day? Under­stand­ing these dif­fer­ent touch points and the way that cus­tomers have pro­gressed through each part of the pur­chase path help multi-channel retail­ers cre­ate a con­sis­tent and ongo­ing dia­logue with them. It’s like ask­ing how their day was, or rec­om­mend­ing a new IPA draft from a new micro­brew­ery because you know they like IPAs or offer­ing ideas on where to get a good bite to eat within their budget.

Strive to inter­act with your cus­tomers on a more per­sonal and con­sis­tent level, wher­ever and when­ever that next touch point is – if you offer them their favorite beer of choice at their favorite water­ing hole after a tough day, you may just have found your­self a friend for life.


For more about the state of the multi-channel retail indus­try, down­load the full Aberdeen Group report.