The Customer Is The Channel

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This year's unmissable IRCE sessions

Retail as we know it is back to the wild west. Over the past 12-18 months, and even moreso over the last 6, tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon have made significant strides to revamp the E-Commerce world that we know. There has been a huge paradigm shift; from Facebook Messenger opening up their API’s for developers to build chatbots that shoppers can use to directly message with retailers, to devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa bringing voice assistants into your shoppers’ day-to-day lives. We are finally seeing the reality behind what has been referenced for years now as “Conversational Commerce” come to life.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking – what does that mean for me and my brand? More importantly, what on earth do I do about it?

Leading retailers are finding ways to turn this paradigm shift into an opportunity to be more integrated in their shoppers’ lives, and more differentiated from competitors. The upcoming Internet Retailer Conference (IRCE) in Chicago will provide a great opportunity to learn from the best about these emerging communication channels and what is actually possible.


The Unmissable Sessions:

Technology’s Impact on CX

The first session we recommend is with eComm leaders Chris Hardisty of Puma and Christie Porter of Rachel Roy talking about the impact technology is having on the customer experience. They will be discussing the importance of mapping the customer journey to know your shoppers intimately enough to serve up the best experience no matter if they are in-store, online, or on mobile.

 

Data and CRM

There’s so much buzz on data collection, but very few actually know how to do it and once they have it, what to do with it. Learn from one of the best, Ali Wing, from Maurices during her session “Data and CRM: The Art and Science of Retail.” Walk through her philosophies on the best ways to leverage data to better drive results and serve your shoppers.


Smarter Computers Impact on Digital

This session is lead by Marketing Evangelist Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud along with Jonathan Tilghman from Zoro.com and is diving into the new era we are in and the direct impact technology is going to have across the entire E-Commerce industry. They will cover everything from Conversational Commerce to SEO and the best practices for leveraging tech.


Under Armour’s Depth of Customer Connection

Day 2’s Keynote is hosted by VP of Nth Am E-Commerce and Brand House Stores, George Hanson of Under Armour. Most retailers laugh when you bring up the idea of launching an App. Not this guy - this session will take you through the successful journey of how UA has been able to leverage technology to track shoppers’ fitness and log it directly within the UA App. Apps might not be a focus for you, but if you are trying to get some ideas for how to best connect to your shoppers using new technologies, we suggest you don’t miss this one!


We’d love to get your take on what you think the future of retail will hold!

We focus on powering the digital experiences that brands use to build relationships with their shoppers, transforming one-time purchasers into lifetime customers. Brands, retailers and CPGs leverage our platform to provide their shoppers with an exceptional tracking, return and exchange experience, and create new revenue channels via personalized upsells, cross-sells and sampling.

We’d love to hear from you and understand how technology is changing your view of customer experience, customer lifetime value and what shoppers expect today from your brand.

Schedule a meeting with us today!

Related Posts

Turning Touchpoints into a Journey

Every interaction with your customer is important, and maximizing the effectiveness of touchpoints has been a valid business concern for some time. Research from McKinsey, however, highlights the blind spot in this kind of thinking -- true leading brands have moved from a touchpoints-focus to a focus on the holistic customer journey.

Designing a Customer Experience Strategy for Conversational Commerce

When you master conversational commerce, you’ll deliver experiences that make your customers feel as if you hired a personal assistant to help each of them.  There are several key strategies, smart brands need to think about as they go about creating their conversational commerce strategy. Don’t Forget The Data If conversational commerce is the new paradigm of customer experience, data is the engine that drives all those delightful interactions across touchpoints. Your customers are creating data every time they click, swipe, and like --it’s up to you to find it, analyze it and use it to inform customer engagement. Nordstrom, for example, uses sensors and Wi-Fi to track who comes to the store, wherein the store they shop, and how long they stay. They also incentivize their Nordstrom’s credit card and rewards program to gather data about their clients. Target is also known for its data-collecting. The mega-retailer assigns every customer a Guest ID number, which is linked to their credit card, name, or email address. This Guest ID number becomes a repository of info on a shopper’s past Target purchases and any demographic information the company has collected about them and/or bought from a third-party source. Target’s data is so accurate and fine-grained that they were even able to determine a teenage shopper was pregnant (and send her the appropriate mailer filled with baby items) long before her father ever knew. Collecting relevant data, analyzing it and using your learnings to inform which conversational channels make sense for your brand and what types of experiences your particular customers seek to have on them is the foundation of your conversational commerce efforts. Focus On The Highest-Value Activities Put your energy toward meaningful services that customers already care about. 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.