Retail TouchPoints delivers cutting edge content to retail executives designed to improve the customer experience in the new world of cross-channel retailing. Providing cutting edge strategies to help retailers optimize the customer interaction across all channel.
On-site search data is a gold mine for retailers that
want to keep their finger on the pulse, meet customers’ changing demands, and
stay top of mind.
Purchase data will tell you which products are
selling. But search data is your way of predictively assessing which are about
to sell, before they actually do. It offers a wide-ranging view of shopper
behavior and their interest level across products, brands and categories. For
example, if you notice that a growing number of customers are searching for a ‘tie-dye
maxi dress,’ you’ll know which product deserves more of your attention.
That knowledge will give you the best possible chance
of reacting to emerging trends before your competitors do, while ensuring that
you can deliver strong customer experiences and capture sales at the right
It’s for this reason that search data isn’t just
important for optimizing your web site; it’s a way of shaping and optimizing
your entire marketing strategy.
Here are five ways of using your site search data to build
more effective marketing campaigns that drive bottom-line results for your e-Commerce
Getting your timing right
Seasons don’t really start and end on a calendar date —
when it comes to seasonal shopping, consumers dictate what will sell when. Search
data allows you to tap into your customers’ mindset to examine what they’re
thinking at a precise moment.
This enables you to roll out seasonal campaigns when
people are actively searching for products associated with that time of the
year. However, it also teaches you to rely on data, rather than guesswork, when
planning your marketing activity.
Let’s take the example of products that don’t come
with an obvious label. We know that swimsuits, sandals and garden furniture all
see big rises in sales when the temperature increases, while hoodies, boots and
lip-care products enjoy more popularity when the temperature drops. By
examining your search data to spot shifts in demand for specific products during
specific times of year, you can plan your campaigns with the right timing in
2. Developing your paid-ad
Search data allows you to react to trends as and when
they happen, but it’s not all about suddenly shifting your priorities. By
analyzing queries from a previous year, you can lay out the framework for 12
months’ worth of display and search activity, based on what is likely to
For instance, if a sporting goods retailer sees a lift
in searches for tennis equipment in the first week of the U.S. Open, they’ll
know when to start pushing pay-per-click (PPC) and display campaigns for these
items. We’ve heard of 25%
rises in page views for dresses during late April — a period
when high schoolers are thinking about their prom and graduation parties. These
recurring events are huge for retailers that want to drive results in key
Search data allows you to react quicker to the micro
moments that happen on a day-to-day basis. But given that many trends are influenced
by seasons and events, you should always look to plan ahead where possible.
3. Promoting your trending
In a market that is subject to fast-changing
preferences, driven by influencers and celebrities, a product can become
popular overnight. It’s why trends in search volume for a very specific item
should be acted upon immediately.
Through email campaigns, newsletters and homepage
banners, it’s possible to alert customers to items before they’ve searched for
them. You can even create dedicated landing pages for popular lines — ideal for
capturing all results for a trending category.
These reactions have a crucial role in closing the gap
between the homepage and the checkout. If you can see that an item is
unanimously popular, you should offer a fast, efficient way of buying it.
4. Intent-driven retargeting
Retargeting has emerged as an ideal way of capturing
lost sales. And if we’re talking about signs of user intent, you can’t get a
more obvious signal than data from people landing on your site and completing a
Retailers almost have to take a step back to really
understand how important their search traffic is. By typing in the name of a
product, the user is offering a very deliberate sign of their interest in that
item — and their intent to purchase it.
Promotional activities like retargeting can use this
extra layer of insight to become more personalized and impactful. It’s easy to
take a safe, generic route with your campaigns, but you’d be wrong in thinking
that every person is interested in a popular brand, ‘what’s new’ or ‘on sale’.
Retailers should be quick to funnel their search data
back into retargeting campaigns that drive results via a product-led approach.
5. Maximizing your PPC efforts
Keep in mind that site visitors use your search box in
a similar way to Google, serving as a strong indicator of what products are in
high demand. Use your search data to decide where you should invest your
marketing dollars when targeting customers via PPC.
Bid higher on the terms that attract more searches and
consider the impact of long-tail searches. The big products and brands (e.g. ‘Nike running
shoes, ‘North Face’) are always going to attract
huge amounts of search volume. However, if you can spot where people are
drilling down into their features (e.g. ‘Bose latest home theater’), you
can drive more ROI through longer-tail and historically cheaper terms.
Search data is a key source of insight for marketers
on the quest for greater ROI, providing vital clues into the customer’s mindset
and decision-making process. Use this data to better understand your customers,
guide your marketing strategy and create a faster pathway to checkout.
Dana Naim is the Head of Marketing
and Content at Twiggle. A
former teacher and journalist with a passion for words and tech, Naim strives
to educate, inform, and delight her readers on subjects including retail technology,
AI, and search.
a new web content management (WCM) platform for an e-Commerce site may feel
like you’ve been thrown into open waters — What kinds of predators lie beneath
the surface, How can you stay afloat, and What will it take to succeed?
are all questions that might run through your mind as you swim through various
WCM offerings looking for the right solution.
the right platform requires research and foresight, as blindly diving into one
solution may not garner the best results for your company. Audiences are now
more empowered and
knowledgeable than ever before, and your retail businesses cannot afford to
deliver poor online experiences, as there is always another e-Commerce business
knocking at your e-customer’s door.
If you find your current e-Commerce or WCM system prevents building a
true connection with customers, then it’s time to change. Take this challenge head-on
in a strategic way, focusing on achieving engagement goals without compromising
sales. You can gradually switch over and replace parts of the old experience
with a better, newer one. If you’re in the market for a new WCM platform, there
are a couple of emerging trends worth noting.
Explore Uncharted Seas
Firstly, the ongoing debate between best-of-breed and single suite approaches.
It’s an argument that resurfaced in recent years, and by all accounts, isn’t
going away anytime soon. Particularly when you consider that the pendulum
has now shifted — almost three-quarters (70%) of brands currently take a heterogeneous approach to their digital
experience platforms, meaning they combine best-of-breed components to build
the desired DXP and continuously extend its functionality for better customer
engagement. Gone are the days when a one-size-fits-all approach provided all
the answers. Retail brands want to control — and the ability to build — their
own digital ecosystems, according to the study by Digital
e-Commerce systems only have very limited content management capabilities, so
the key is to explore what your company truly needs, and put the digital
experience at the front and center of your research. When considering a WCM
provider, look at how your content is delivered, how it will help you engage
and how it will combine with aspects like compliance, security and scalability —
all important factors. With the right WCM-driven experience at the front end,
the commerce system can work at the backend doing what it does best, handling
the product information and transactional elements.
Swim With A New School of Fish
Secondly, the debate
between headless and traditional WCMs. Most companies are currently on their second
or third generation “traditional" CMS, so they have quite some
experience with it, and know what to ask for when they engage with vendors
during a replacement cycle. In many cases a traditional CMS can do the job,
provided you select the right one. But headless CMSs — which simplify the way
of delivering dynamic content to mobile devices — can make a real difference,
particularly to e-Commerce-led customer experiences. Some systems even allow
you to work both in a traditional and headless manner, combining the best of
both worlds. If you’re looking to achieve any of the following with a WCM, then
the headless approach may be best for you.
1. Rapidly deliver
online stores and web sites to a wide range of devices
2. Manage campaign sites,
sales offers and other short-lived online properties
3. Syndicate content to affiliate sites/companies, or for instance your e-Commerce environment
4. Reuse content on other channels, in particular mobile apps, but also other devices such as POS displays and kiosks
5. Reuse content on social channels
most importantly, remember that it’s all about the customer experience. What
experience do you provide now, and what kind of experience do you want them to
have in the future? Recognize what approach and features matter most and
make the most sense given your company’s future goals. Businesses with customers
across regions should be able to ensure their WCM systems are able to easily
localize content into any language, as the first step toward delivering
relevant and personal experiences. While markets have become global, customers
still understandably want localized information and approach a business and its
products from multiple geographies, channels and platforms. Do
the appropriate research now and save yourself from drowning in these complex issues
Peggy Chen joined SDL in 2014 and is currently Chief
Marketing Officer, with responsibility for communicating the strategic
direction of SDL’s brand, products and services across all channels in support
of customer acquisition and retention. Prior to SDL, Chen was at Oracle where
she drove go-to-market strategies leading Product Marketing and Product
Management teams. Chen holds a Bachelors and Masters of Engineering in
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of
In partnership with the brand new RetailX event (the
co-location of IRCE, GlobalShop and RFID Journal Live! Retail), Retail
TouchPoints is hosting Retail
TouchPoints Live! @ RetailXfor the first time June
25-26 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event includes three content tracks
focusing on the next gen store, omnichannel optimization and digital
transformation, and is designed to create a forum addressing the
convergence of physical and digital shopping experiences.
Speakers from retailers such as BJ’s Wholesale Club, Under
Armour, Hibbett Sports, Moosejaw and Adore Me will
share the stage with analysts from BRP Consulting, HighStreet Collective and
A.T. Kearney, among many others. The RTP editors share which sessions
they’re most looking forward to at Retail TouchPoints Live!
Adam Blair, Editor: Surveying the session
offerings for the debut of Retail TouchPoints Live! in Chicago
next week is a bit like reading a restaurant menu when you’ve got the munchies:
everything looks so good. But I’ll force myself to choose two tasty
items: Driving A Decent Specialty Approach At the World’s Largest
Retailer (While Still Remaining Well-Coiffed), with Moosejaw’s
Dan Pingree revealing how the often edgy outdoors retailer is (hopefully)
keeping its identity within an e-Commerce structure known for selling
commodity-type consumables, a.k.a. Walmart.com. Given the
recent absorption of Jet.com into Walmart, the session is quite
topical. I’m also looking forward to Delivering A Consistent Customer
Experience In A Complex Environment with Todd Sasala of Cedar Fair
Entertainment. The ability to delight visitors in an amusement park’s
multiple locations and situations sounds like it will be a great object lesson
for retailers trying to create engaged, relevant customer journeys in
increasingly experiential stores.
Glenn Taylor, Senior Editor: Being stuck in that
middle ground of not being cheap enough while also not being differentiated
enough is a harsh pit that no retailer wants to fall into. When it comes to
those that do compete on price, even that is no longer enough to win the
wallets of consumers. Many retailers seeking to compete on price are competing
on just that factor, so I’m definitely curious to see what the session titled Breaking
The Chains Of Price & Convenience With Omnichannel Experience has to
offer. I think of companies like TJX and Dollar General that have
done so well under their business models, simply because they offer things that
can be found elsewhere — but for much lower prices. I wonder if other retailers
can make headway in these verticals with the takeaways from this session. In
the case of pricing and convenience, breaking conventions and making your own
rules can often be a major risk, especially from a profitability standpoint, so
I’d love to see where retailers can possibly mitigate that risk.
Bryan Wassel, Associate Editor: While Amazon Go
has certainly generated a lot of buzz and a few other companies have launched
their own takes on the format, the cashierless store has yet to take off. I’m
not sure if this is a matter of cost, technology, or other factors, but I feel
like the Will Cashierless Stores Dominate New Spaces? session has the
right team of experts to shed some light on this trend and discuss what the
future holds. Scan-and-go technology is not without its downsides, and new,
previously unconsidered problems may crop up as more stores appear, but there
will be unforeseen benefits as well. Innovators from companies like Third
Haus and Innowi have a good grasp on what’s possible and likely in
the future of retail; this should add some grounding in the realistically possible
to this discussion of what is yet to come. The panel also will discuss best
practices for designing the checkout experience itself, which will practical
info for retailers that are just starting to explore these concepts.
As consumer values and priorities are shifting
towards a more multichannel and digital experience, we are watching the retail
industry evolve right before our eyes. However, whether you’re online, in a
store, or in an app, simply having a great product and a competitive price is
no longer enough. According to the 2019 State of Service report by Salesforce,
80% of customers now consider their experience with a company to be as
important as its products.
Limited time offers, flash sales or referrals
might be good for a short-term fix, but retailers that want to truly outpace
their competition need to take a different approach. In order to truly capture
the voice of the customer and create a more personalized and streamlined
experience for customers, retailers need to look inward at the customer support
organization and the contact center. Here are three ways retailers can leverage
customer support to create the ideal customer experience.
Gathering Data And Feedback
Your contact center and support agents
arguably have more daily interactions with your customers than anyone else and
have direct insight into who your customers are and how they are interacting,
connecting, and feeling about your products and services. Today’s contact
centers provide the data-driven context and automation needed to keep pace with
customers. They also are a premier location for retailers to tap into in order
to paint a real-time picture of who their customers are, how they are using
their products and what improvements can be made.
It’s All About The App
According to App Annie’s State of Mobile 2019 report, in
2018, U.S. consumers spent 60% more time in shopping apps than they did just
two years prior. Mobile shopping is the next frontier of retail, but creating a
unique mobile experience goes beyond exclusive offerings and QR codes. By securely
leveraging in-app information and capabilities such as purchase history,
previous support issues, text, photos and videos, retailers can automate
incoming support issues and safely direct customers to the right agent,
expediting the entire process. Customers today communicate with each other
through multiple channels, such as voice, text, images and more, so it’s only
natural that retailers use these channels as well.
Be Where Your Customers Are
Retailers know this better than most: you
can’t reach your customers if you’re targeting the wrong places. For most, this
means, are they shopping online or in the store. However, some of the best
cross-sell and upsell opportunities can come from a better understanding of the
different channels customers are using when they are reaching out for support.
This can be extremely helpful for marketers in particular. For example, if the
insights from your support team show that the majority of your customers reach
out via your mobile app, then leveraging in-app messaging could be an effective
way of driving future updates and announcements.
Like many other industries, retail is becoming
driven by technology. As competition becomes more intense, retailers need to
explore every option at their disposal that can give them a competitive advantage.
For most, this means exploring third-party research data or advertising
campaigns, both of which come at a substantial cost. In reality, the most
effective and efficient way for retailers to capture the voice of their
customers is to partner from within and leverage the contact center and support
agents to create a customer experience that is second to none.
As Founder and CEO ofUJET, Inc., Anand
Janefalkar has 15 years of experience in the technology industry and has served
as a technical advisor for various startups in the Bay Area. Before founding
UJET, he served as Senior Engineering Manager at Jawbone, and also previously
contributed to multiple high profile projects at Motorola.
To say that location intelligence is changing
the face of retail is not hyperbolic.
In the same way that the Internet allowed for
the rise of e-Commerce giants like Amazon and eBay, a major paradigm shift in
the industry, location intelligence is now returning power to brick-and-mortar
retailers by allowing them access to the sort of detailed data that online
retailers take for granted.
Exactly how physical retailers are using
location intelligence varies quite a bit, but a couple of distinct trends have
Location Intelligence Informs
New Location Planning
Choosing a location for a new storefront used
to be a mixture of consulting very broad, generalized census data, making
assumptions based off of competitor activities and trusting blindly in gut
feelings and hunches.
It’s a technique that can often work — the
fact that any store ever remained open is testament to that — but it puts serious
restraints on a business’ growth rate. On top of that, when a poor location is chosen, its eventual failure is very
Smart utilization of location intelligence
both streamlines and optimizes scouting for new store locations. It starts with
gaining a better understanding of the demographics in and around the proposed
area. Location intelligence can give you a more in-depth breakdown of the
demographics than a general census, including differentiating between local
residents and commuters, other places they shop or visit and so on.
Location intelligence also can give retailers
unprecedented insight into the habits of their competitor’s customers,
providing data on market penetration and customer loyalty. If a major
competitor is showing very short visit times in a particular area, their
customers might be ready to be presented with another option; if they’re
struggling to draw foot traffic at all, chances are good that you will
Russian grocery and convenience retailer X2
has been using location intelligence to fuel a massive location expansion: They
opened more than 5,000 new stores in two years, and increased profits by more
than 130%. Specifically, they used location data to select prime locations,
make more informed stocking decisions and negotiate lease rates.
Using location intelligence, you can harness
customer behavior data to not only plan new stores but to maximize the
performance of existing stores.
This is being done by integrating location
intelligence with online and out-of-home advertising — in other words, by bridging
the gap between your customers’ offline and online behaviors. This technique
can be used to target existing customers with special offers based on both
their online behaviors and their real-life ones.
For example, if location intelligence tells you
that you have a loyal customer that visits a particular location every Friday
after work, you can serve them a special offer as they approach your location.
The same data that tells you when customers visit your own stores also tells
you about their other activities, such as visiting competitors, their affinity
for other stores and more, which allows you to build more robust customer
However, the most innovative trend we are
seeing in retail is using location intelligence for in-store planning. Through
audience indexing, businesses can understand the makeup of their audience on a
granular, per-store level and customize strategies based on very specific
audiences. For example, if you want to test a new product at select locations,
understanding which locations the product’s ideal audiences frequent will
ensure optimized placement and create the desired impact. Different promotions
can run at different stores based on the audience index of each one. This
brings a level of personalization, once available only in the digital world, to
the physical world.
Exciting, Innovative Times —
Don’t Get Left Behind
We live in very exciting times for the retail
industry. Not only has e-Commerce’s stranglehold on retail began to loosen, but
the emergence of location intelligence is giving physical-based retail brands
valuable tools, tools that help to level the playing field.
I suspect that we’re seeing just the beginning
of the applications that location intelligence can be put to. I also suspect
that brands that don’t want to be left behind will be adopting and executing
data-driven and audience-based marketing strategies.
Ran Ben-Yair is CEO and Co-Founder at Ubimo. Ben-Yair oversees Ubimo’s product direction, strategic development and
execution. Prior to Ubimo, he co-founded LabPixies Ltd. (acquired by Google in
2010), a leading web and mobile app development company, bootstrapping the
company and growing the business to reach tens of millions of users in four
years. At Google, Ben-Yair continued as a Product Manager in Search where he
led and launched large-scale products. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer
Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Noble has a potential deal in place to sell
itself to hedge fund Elliott Advisors for $683 million, marking
major changes for a company that has long struggled to stay afloat in the wake
of Amazon’s continued rise. Representing the last of the major
traditional bookstore chains, Barnes & Noble could be in the hands of a
firm that already has turned around one bookseller that had teetered on the
brink of failure: UK-based Waterstones. James
Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will assume the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble
following the expected completion of the transaction in Q3 2019.
However, Elliott isn’t the only entity seeking to reverse
Barnes & Noble’s fortunes — book reseller Readerlink LLC is
reportedly working on a higher bid for the retailer.
The RTP editors discuss whether a Barnes & Noble
acquisition (whether by Elliott Advisors or another party) can help turn the
Adam Blair, Editor: I’m at least somewhat optimistic about
the prospective new owners of Barnes & Noble, particularly since incoming
CEO James Daunt has had book retailing experience. I hope he imports the kind
of locally-led assortments that have proven successful at Waterstones and also
in the U.S. at chains like Half
Price Books. Carefully listening to what local readers are interested
in, and stocking stores accordingly, is what has kept the country’s remaining independent
booksellers afloat in tough times. One recommendation for the new owners:
revamp the Barnes & Noble loyalty program. I’m an ex-member who got tired
of being charged $25 per year for no appreciable benefit. Amazon can get away
with charging for Prime membership because they bundle exclusives, content and
free, fast shipping, but Barnes & Noble isn’t Amazon — nor should it try to
be. Keep making the store a place that’s a pleasure to visit and you’ll get my
Glenn Taylor, Senior Editor: Upon first glance, the
Barnes & Noble bid made me question the price: $683 million?? (Or, a
less pricey $475 million when not accounting debt.) Frankly, I thought
that number was outrageous given the company’s failed
attempts at reinvention in the past, its inability to generate consistently
positive traffic numbers and its rotating carousel of CEOs (now on number
six since 2010). It’s even crazier when you think that the figure
represents a 43% premium over its share price. Looking deeper into this
though, I’d like to be optimistic about the buyer, Elliott Advisors. It’s easy
to give hedge funds and VC-types flak for retail purchases like these (and they
certainly have deserved it in recent years), but Elliott’s turnaround of
Waterstones instills confidence that the company has a firm grasp of
bookselling in the digital age, and that’s what matters most here. This feels
more like a genuine attempt at a resurgence than a typical investment, largely
due to Daunt’s involvement. Regardless of the ownership change, Barnes &
Noble will have to close more stores (or at least align with the small-format
trend), retool its inventory entirely (catering to its market), emphasize BOPIS/click-and-collect
and endure short-term hits to its revenues and profitability.
Bryan Wassel, Associate Editor: I’ll admit I’m of two
minds about Elliott Advisors’ ultimate plans for Barnes & Noble. While the
firm has been supportive of Waterstones, its involvement didn’t come until that
chain had already stanched the bleeding and started expanding again. That’s a
great point for VC money to come on board — the extra cash can ease the
growing pains of expansion plans, and the recent increase in profitability
limits the incentive to tear the chain apart in search of a return. On one
hand, giving the reins at Barnes & Noble to Daunt, as opposed to a
sacrificial lamb whose only purpose is to quietly prepare the company for
liquidation, speaks to the idea that Elliott is serious about financing a
turnaround. On the other hand, the U.S. market is incredibly different from the
UK, and America simply may no longer be capable of supporting a bookstore chain
the size of Barnes & Noble. After all, there hasn’t been a truly national
supermarket since the mid-20th century heyday of A&P, and we saw
how that story ended. If Barnes & Noble’s suitors are looking to say, “We
tried, but the company was doomed before we arrived,” they will certainly have
Today’s retail world is beset with massive
change, and standard sales principles are constantly under challenge. At the
same time, the notion of customer loyalty has never been more important.
According to the Wharton School’s Marketing
Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 14X more
than attracting a new one. Additionally, according to the SDL Global CX Wake Up Call report, 73% of
consumers satisfied by the customer experience will recommend a brand to
others. Knowing where a retailer stands with its customers has never been more
For years, the chief metric of customer
sentiment, other than revenue and sales data, has been Net Promoter Score
(NPS). It stands to reason — what better test of customer satisfaction is there
than whether they recommend the retailer to another?
While there is tremendous value in this
metric, it suffers from two major problems.
The first is that it tends to be a trailing indicator. Changes in NPS happen after an experience occurs, and have likely set in for some time. This is also true for revenue and sales data. At this point, the damage is already done and may even be irreparable.
A second issue with NPS is that it is rather one-dimensional. Nothing about the metric shows what or why a customer feels a certain way or how something has changed. Uncovering what is really going on may be difficult and might take time, and trying to fix it may be impossible after a certain amount
of time has elapsed.
Better Solution? Real-Time Interaction!
Businesses today continue to be characterized
by real-time interaction. Chatbots try to instantly engage online customers and
potential customers the moment they hit a retailer’s web site. Apps provide the
means to extend a retailer’s presence and services, while social media activity
aims to build conversations and spread influence. Understanding customers in
real time enables retailers to shape the customer experience as and when it
happens. Retailers can make adjustments in the way they do business to improve
experiences for other customers.
Real-time customer data must be multi-sourced
and should be the total of all interactions and conversations with employees
that are captured as notes. It should include email and other forms of input
and communications, such as surveys and mini-surveys, research, follow-up
reports, web site activity and more.
The next task is bringing this data together,
analyzing it and turning it into actionable insights. The idea is to gain a
360° picture of customers with deeper levels of insight. What follows is the
ability to interpret it and develop a roadmap. Oftentimes, this means finding
meaningful patterns and trends. Of course, information without action is
futile! Let real-time information direct decisions and prompt actions to
address specific customers, as well as the way the retailer conducts business.
NPS is still meaningful, but it is far from
real-time, and it lacks context and dimension. Retailers can improve customer
loyalty and retention and expand revenue by gaining a realistic understanding
of customers. Based on this, they can better cater to customers and provide improved
experiences, while it is still possible to make a difference.
Shreesha Ramdas is the CEO and Co-Founder of Strikedeck.
Previously, Ramdas was the GM of the Marketing Cloud at CallidusCloud, Co-Founder
at LeadFormix (acquired by CallidusCloud) and OuterJoin, and General Manager at
Yodlee. Prior to that, he led teams in sales and marketing at
Catalytic Software, MW2 Consulting, and Tata. Ramdas advises several
startups on marketing & growth hacking. You can find him on
Picture this: a customer orders a product from your business and
expects it be delivered within a few days. When the delivery doesn’t arrive,
she panics. She reached for her phone to place the order, to track the order,
and now she’s reaching for it again to inquire to your brand about the delay.
She has a few choices. She can call your company. But what’s the number? She’d
have to look it up. She can email your company, but to what address? She’d have
to look that up, too. Or, she can simply open her favorite social media app,
search for your company name, and send her question directly to you within
This is the exact type of customer that retail brands encounter
each day. Their customers prefer to receive service on social media, and fast.
In order to handle the volume and demand, the retailer must use a systematic
balance of artificial intelligence (AI) and authentic, human-delivered customer
On the timeline of marketing and marketing automation, social
media is one of the newest business tools for retailers to utilize. And while
brands were developing their web sites for marketing purposes, social media
became a vehicle for digital customer service overnight. In addition, recent feature updates such as messenger and the deployment of bots present both opportunities and threats,
not only to a customer’s experience but also to a brand’s reputation.
But back to our customer. As the company, you have a
short window to make her concern a positive experience. While your response
time is essential (since the average social media user expects to be assisted
within an hour), your empathy and ability to troubleshoot the delay is equally
important. This is where social media AI, or the use of bots, can either help
or hurt your customer’s experience and your brand’s reputation. By using a bot
to immediately acknowledge her message, you are maintaining lightning fast
response time and ensuring your customers that they’ve been heard. But can your
bot research the cause of the delay? No. That’s why a strategy that
implements both bots and human interactions is the best practice for social care.
When developing your bot + agent social care strategies,
consider these three points:
1. Bots are beneficial, but they’ll never
replace human empathy.
It’s clear in the definition of a bot: a computer program that generates responses based on some input,
usually keywords. While this is a solution that can address general
inquires 24/7 with immediate responses, every computer-generated system has
risks, such as being prone to hackers and being limited to human programming.
Most notable, an excessive use of bots runs the risk of dehumanizing your
2. Humans relate best to other humans, but we
can’t work ‘round the clock’.
Effective customer support with
empathy and emotional intelligence can never be replaced by bots. But depending
on your brand and industry, it is probable that your social customer service
volume outnumbers your care agent resources. In addition, the operation costs
of a large, agent-only care team can quickly add up. The tools, training, and
HR costs can become overwhelming.
3. A balance of both is best.
Carefully balancing the use of both bots and customer care agents
is often the best strategy for managing social media customer care. This system
would allow your company to immediately respond to your customer’s inquiry
about her product delay, triage it to an agent who can troubleshoot the delay,
and respond again with solutions and empathy — making for the best care
experience and a positive brand reputation.
According to the Forrester Research report, The Three
Customer Service Megatrends In 2019, “Great customer service is not just
about cutting costs or making operations more efficient. Instead, it’s a
systematic reinvention of established technology, data, and operations —
leveraging automation, data and agents together to exploit each of their unique
strengths and deliver experiences in line with customer expectations.”
Develop a social media customer care center by deploying the
proper software, employing adequate staffing and creating workflows to deliver
both AI and authentic human interactions with your customers.
is an award-winning marketing and communications professional, blogger, social
media lecturer and speaker. With more than a decade in communications and
social media, her work is focused on helping businesses cultivate meaningful
connections with their communities through strategic social media efforts that
make people a priority. Jones is a business consultant for Allant
provides marketing technology services that help businesses effectively acquire
new customers, retain and grow existing customers and win back lapsed
customers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RTP editorial
team discusses the potential impact of these tariffs, whether they are placed on
China, Mexico or Canada, and shares what retailers can do to mitigate potential
problems the tariffs could cause.
Adam Blair, Editor:
President Trump is bothered by illegal immigration on the Southern border. Set
aside for now whether this is a real problem for the U.S. or not, and let’s
consider the weapon he is using to deal with it: imposing escalating tariffs on
Mexican goods until their government does something (it’s never clearly defined
exactly what) to stop the flow of migrants through its country.
You’ve heard the expression “cutting off your nose to spite your face”? This is
putting a bullet in your brain to cure a headache. This is using a sledgehammer
to swat a fly — an operation that puts holes in the wall of your house while
letting the fly fly free. The NRF’s SVP for Government Relations David French
couldn’t be blunter, or more accurate: “The growing tariff bill paid by U.S.
businesses and consumers is adding up and will raise the cost of living for
American families. Forcing Americans to pay more for produce, electronics, auto
parts and clothes isn’t the answer to the nation’s immigration challenges.”
Glenn Taylor, Senior
Editor: Besides the actual price increases that will come as a result of
the tariffs, the next major impact appears to be in supply chain costs, which
will affect both the retailer and the manufacturer, according to Jason Furman,
who was President Obama’s chief economic adviser. Furman
told Vox that If a product is finished in Mexico and shipped to the U.S.
from there, but had mostly been produced elsewhere, then the tariff becomes a larger
burden on the manufacturer; if a product is 5% produced in Mexico and
now faces a 5% tariff, that’s equivalent to a 100% tax on the
Mexican production. This will hamper suppliers’ ability to move semi-finished
products back and forth across the border, potentially altering how supply
chains function between the two countries. I can’t imagine most retailers are
prepared for that kind of change given how fluid (and frankly, sudden) any
proposed USMCA (a.k.a. the “new NAFTA”) scenarios have been playing out.
Associate Editor: A big problem
with tariffs is that, since they can be placed by the president unilaterally,
there is little recourse to fight them until the 2020 election. This means
that, barring some disastrous polling or dramatic
Congressional action, retailers won’t be able to expect relief for at least
another year. They also will be dealing with the fact that the levies will be
hitting shoppers in areas they may not expect — everyone expects avocados to rise in cost,
but customers may not be prepared for a price increase for jeans. The best path for retailers may be to
follow the strategy that many large companies have announced during quarterly
result calls: work with suppliers the best they can to mitigate the increases,
but fully acknowledge that some of the cost increase is going to fall on
customers’ shoulders. Hiding from the truth isn’t going to help anyone, but
coming forward and openly stating why this is happening might help generate the
pressure needed to have the tariffs lifted.
The world of payments is one of the most
innovative and fastest growing industries across the globe. Thanks to the
expansion of e-Commerce, consumers are no longer stuck with only being able to
shop at stores in close proximity to them. The world is starting to feel
smaller and thanks to the innovations in payments, we are entering an era of
untapped potential for consumers and merchants alike.
On the other hand, one thing holding us back
from reaching this potential is a lack of understanding around global consumer preferences.
This void of knowledge around the various types of payments preferred
worldwide, and how to properly offer these payments to global consumers, is
holding back many merchants. These local payment methods, or LPMs, are the
payment methods outside of traditional card and cash payments that help to meet
the needs of various geographies, cultures and economies around the globe.
Visa and Mastercard only account for 25% of
global e-Commerce payments, and this figure drops even further when we look
regionally. Visa and Mastercard combine to only make up 3% of China’s e-payment
split.LPMs are preferred
globally and U.S. merchants cannot rely on using traditional credit card
In Germany, for example, the main methods of
online payments are bank transfers. They make up 49% of online transactions, while
cash is only 5% and cards make up 11%.This is a stark difference compared to payment
behaviors in the U.S., where 57% of online transactions are facilitated by
These payment preferences significantly vary
from region to region, making the need to cater payment methods to consumer
preference so crucial. LPMs offer ease and comfort to consumers, while giving
merchants the capability to expand their business and reach new markets. U.S.
online merchants need to be strategic about how they scale globally, and LPMs
are an essential tool to help ease this transition.
Steve Villegas, VP of Partner Management at PPRO, is a Sales, Marketing and Business Development
Executive with over 20 years of experience building and managing sales, partner
development and marketing teams that have delivered profitable results, built
market share, and exceeded revenue goals while outperforming competition. Villegas
is a natural communicator and team leader with strong motivational skills, with
the ability to build, produce and succeed.