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The unmissable Shoptalk sessions - your guide

Here at Linc, we’re gearing up for an exciting few days at Shoptalk. With so many great opportunities to learn and share ideas, it’s looking like a full schedule. There are plenty of sessions we’re looking forward to checking out. Here’s a list, and the reasons why we think these sessions are not to be missed.
  

Driving Millennial Engagement with Content

Monday Morning, 11.15am - Track 3
 
This is a panel discussion with folks who have a proven track record of engaging millennial audiences. They’ll share their insights on what it takes to get this generation to engage, and how content can drive mindshare and revenue.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
Millennials have more disposable income, more influence and are driving new trends and forcing brands to innovate. From chat platforms to social sharing, millennials are hard to reach but spend long amounts of time with digital media every day, making them a valuable market segment and one that can’t be ignored.
 
 

Creating and managing Omnichannel Customer Experiences

Monday afternoon, 1.40pm - Track 2
 
This panel includes heavy hitters from Crocs, Sur La Table and Banana Republic. There’s a lot of experience that these folks bring to the table, and the moderator is industry veteran Scott Silverman, who will be sure to guide the conversation to the most topical and valuable topics.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
Omnichannel experience has gone from buzzword to must-have in the last 2 years, and customers now expect a full retail experience across multiple channels, from product discovery through to post-purchase service. Omnichannel is now what separates those brands who are growing and succeeding, and those who are falling behind. The divide is widening, and we’ve seen those who don’t deliver crash and burn. Check out this session to see how the big challenges of endless aisle, in-store pickup and meeting customer expectations.
 
 

Innovations in Mobile, Social and Next Generation Marketing Tactics

Monday afternoon, 2.25pm - Track 3
 
This panel discussion will focus on social and mobile, and features some of the real innovators in the industry, including Prama Bhatt of Ulta Beauty, and Bryon Colby of Cornerstone Brands. Here you will here some genuinely new thinking, and we expect to be surprised by some of their new ideas.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
Consumers are shifting where they spend their time, and much of that time is on social channels and with mobile media apps like Youtube. Social and mobile advertising spending is skyrocketing but there are other tactics being tried out which could help you reach the shoppers you want to engage.
 
 

Reinventing Product Returns

Monday afternoon, 3.10pm (Session B)
 
This discussion will focus on the challenge of returns. With rates ranging from 10%-30%, returns are hitting some retailers harder than others. With plenty of opportunities to improve the reverse logistics process, look to this part of the ecommerce business to be see innovation and large improvements in the next 24 months.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
This panel features two of the most innovative thinkers in this area - especially check out David Sobie’s vision for how return bars will change returns for shoppers and retailers. While Amazon is pushing the boundaries, there's a big opportunity in reverse logistics for brands and retailers to compete.
 
 

Conversation with Facebook Messenger

Tuesday morning, 10.30am (Session A)
 
In this session, Director of Product Management, Facebook Messenger - Frerk-Malte Feller will share his vision for Messenger’s role in commerce, and go into more details into bots for Messenger.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
Facebook’s Messenger app and platform has grown at an extraordinary rate and is where many shoppers spend their time every day. With their chatbot platform, Messenger offers excellent opportunities to engage customers and give them what they want. This session will help you stay ahead of the curve.
 
 

Tapping into Millennial Mindshare

Tuesday afternoon, 1.40pm
 
This panel will discuss how the millennial demographic has a different relationship with brands. With 80 million people in this demographic, it’s a market segment that commands big dollars, and has less loyalty.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
It’s no longer a new opportunity, but table stakes to be engaging millennial customers. This panel features innovative thinkers from EXPRESS, Combatant Gentlemen, JackThreads and American Giant, and will give a look into how successful leaders are engaging this hard-to-serve group of shoppers.
 
 

The Universal Chatbot, Voice and Digital Customer Engagement Platform

Monday Morning, 9.25am - Track 5
 
CEO, Fang Cheng, will be joined by Anna Pettus of Techstyle, and will announce a new platform for brands and retailers to serve and engage their customers through Voice, ChatBot, and digital channels like email and text. This platform gives early adopters like Techstyle the ability to provide customer service on Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa and other emerging channels, plus in-content email updates and SMS.
 
Why it’s unmissable:
Shoppers are using more digital channels than ever and it’s challenging to deliver the service and experience they expect across these channels. There is a significant opportunity to drive revenue and reduce customer service costs, but getting started with ChatBots, AI, machine learning and voice devices is brand new for retailers and brands. This new platform connects brands with their customers, without the risk and cost of starting from scratch.
 
 
 
 
We hope you find this guide helpful, and look forward to lots of great conversations at at the show! If you’d like to connect with us one on one, please reach out to connor@letslinc.com.
 
Thinking about Millennials, ChatBots or Voice commerce? Get the lowdown on Conversational Channels like Messenger, Amazon Alexa, Google Home and WhatsApp - The Definitive Guide to Conversational Commerce gives you the foundation you need to plan for the opportunities.
 

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Look at service-oriented features, such as notification capability and on-demand service and support capabilities, to guide the customer journey. Don’t just focus on the “Checkout.” The main benefit of service-oriented conversational channel offerings is the ability to organically drive usage into new channels. For example, a customer might place an order on your website and learn that she can subscribe to order status updates through Facebook Messenger. What she sees as taking advantage of a perk will benefit you by encouraging her toward a channel where your chatbot can take over. ChatBots are best for organic conversations with common use cases, but also provide a sense of personalization and convenience for the shopper. Customer service should be your core use for this technology to start. Be Prepared For Bot-to-Human Handoffs The great thing about a conversation handled over text or Messenger is that the customer doesn’t have to know when they might be switching from a bot to a human. Bot design in the future will focus on what they can do, knowing what they can’t do, and designing a bridge to employee assistance that feels seamless to the customer. It’s not just the customer that will be helped by the bot, but the employee. It will provide faster information and better analytics in real time, perhaps then parsing information to pass on to the consumer. The most important aspect of innovation is convenience for the shopper. They should never have to explain their request twice. Start Simple and Grow to Brand Management You can start with bots as a single voice in the chorus of messages from your brand. The long term will have bots as representatives of your entire brand, managing relationships with your customers. You can start conversational commerce, however, with just a single entry point. You can get your customers used to interacting with you on the same channels they use to chat with their friends. You can piggyback on the culture of quick and informal communication, but be ready to meet their expectations for highly personal and meaningful results. If your bot can’t meet that expectation, your customer could walk away disappointed or annoyed. As the technology improves, and it is, even as we write this, you’ll be able to put more and more of your brand management in the hands of the bots. Authentication Giving your bot a way to confirm the customer’s identity is key to a truly intelligent communication that can leverage data from across your other channels. If this isn’t done right, your bot will see each customer as a stranger, negating the opportunity to provide personalized service. Focus On Concepts Rather Than Solutions Your customers might be on Kik today but head over to Facebook Messenger tomorrow. Focusing on the concepts of conversational commerce rather than today’s hottest medium will help you keep your sanity and provide an agile approach that can be applied to meet your customers wherever they migrate. Try not to get bogged down with the details of how to build for one particular channel, and look instead to use-cases. You can learn more about conversational commerce and engaging your customers at every touchpoint by exploring Linc’s platform and solutions pages. Or take a look at how leading brands like Lamps Plus, JustFab.com and others are using automated conversational commerce strategies in their businesses today, in our resources page.