“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.

 

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