Encourage loyalty, save time

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Zain Raj
Zain Raj

Today's retailers' customer service and delivery methods have evolved − think Zappos − so have consumer expectations for immediacy and service. 

The retail sector has transitioned from having a bricks-and-mortar destination shopping presence to delivering a seamless, multichannel experience to meet customer demand. 

As one of the people involved in that transition (I was part of the team that first developed the “order online and pick it up at the store” concept), I saw the power of digital technology to solve unmet customer needs.

Customers have been suffering from an epidemic that continues to spread and intensify. The illness is time-starvation. We are living in a society that is overscheduled, overcommitted and stretched beyond our limits. Time is a resource that seems to be dwindling quickly. Our customers feel it, and they hate it. They are willing to reward brands that can make it easier and more convenient for them to shop on their terms.

The Internet has moved things in the right direction. Mobility will take it to the next level. With the expected penetration of smartphones and the pervasiveness of 4G networks, mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous and are now deeply integrated into commerce.

This will enable brands to deliver an “anytime/real-time” shopping experience. Any-time/real-time shopping will liberate our customer from the grip of time starvation by allowing them to use time on the fault lines to be personally more productive.

This approach won't be easy. It will require companies to embrace change and evolve. 

To be a successful  marketer, you will need a robust database of your customers with a single view of their relationships with the brand. You need to make investments in building the infrastructure as well, in order to deliver a seamless, agnostic multichannel experience to the consumer. 

You have understand how to generate profitable transactions while building brand value, and create an operating model that enables you to solve customer problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Finally, build desirable experiences that create a compelling reason for the customer to engage with your brand.

The velocity of change will continue to accelerate. Mobile technology will be an enabler. The brands that will win are ones that will solve their customers' fundamental problem − lack of time. Gift them back some of this precious commodity and they will reward you by making your brand a part of their ritual.

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