Strengthening The Three-Part Retail Customer Journey

  • August 7, 2017 at 12:53 PM EDT
  • By Glenn Taylor
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Customer journey use cases that align with customer growth, such as loyalty and cross-sell, are growing exponentially faster (390%) than those focused on customer acquisition (28%) or conversion (119%), according to a survey from Kitewheel. These customer growth use cases now make up more than 75% of all interactions, while customer acquisition and conversion use cases split the remainder nearly evenly.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to build a rich engagement with a known customer,” said Mark Smith, President of Kitewheel in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Once you’ve gone through that acquisition and conversion phase and made that first sale to a customer, at that point you then have a lot more information about that customer. You know who they really are. They’re not just an anonymous web visitor that you can track and retarget. That gives you an opportunity to use multiple channels to communicate with the customer and build a more sophisticated plan of engagement.”

The report broke down the customer journey data into three use case classes:


  • Acquisition: bringing new customers into the sales funnel and nurturing them as leads;

  • Conversion: developing tactics to turn sales opportunities and leads into actual business — winning the customer for the first time; and

  • Growth: engaging and retaining customers for sustained loyalty

Shoppers Prefer Email, Web Site Interaction Ahead Of Social

As part of this focus on connecting with existing customer bases, retail has seen a huge shift in where and when shoppers interact with them.

“The journey is the customer’s journey,” Smith said. “The brand can’t really control it…the brand’s job is to encourage them and nudge them in the right way. Their job is to be responsive to what the customer needs, and if the brand loses it, they’re going to lose the customer.”

Social interactions have ceded their place as a primary consumer interaction point. Shoppers prefer a more diversified approach with a strong emphasis on email and web site touch points:

  • Email is the top channel for customer communication in journeys, jumping just ahead of web site interactions in 2016 (37.3% to 37.2%);

  • Social interactions declined sharply — accounting for only 12% of the overall marketing mix, a massive drop from the 93.3% share reported in 2014 — due to a decline in social listening as a lead acquisition tactic;

  • In-store interaction volume grew by more than 300% between 2015 and 2016, despite a downturn in the amount of physical retail space, indicating that more brands are doing a better job connecting online and offline channels to drive customer interest and ongoing loyalty; and

  • Internet of Things (IoT), a new channel for 2016, now accounts for about 30% of all journey interactions.

“Lots of those early cross-channel journeys were built to do the acquisition job,” Smith said. “Retailers used social a lot to look for potential new customers and bring them in and try to engage with them. That has swung quite rapidly to much more of a richer channel-mix, in order to engage with a known customer in a retention, loyalty-type or cross-sell application.”

Smith credited technologies such as beacons and in-store tablets as reasons for the massive change in the popularity of in-store interactions.

“The customer gives the associate their ID, their phone number or their loyalty number and can look them up to give them advice,” Smith said. “That can also be triggered by identifying them via an iBeacon. We see retailers using the technology to be able to identify when the customer is in the store, or who they are if that customer has the app. There’s a huge opportunity to deliver messaging and offers to the customer while they’re in the store.”

Total journey interactions across all sectors have more than tripled between 2015 and 2016, and have more than quadrupled since 2014. This global analysis covers more than two billion customer interactions across the retail, auto, travel, health care and insurance industries using the Kitewheel Hub from 2014 through 2016.



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