Digital transformation and experiential touch points: building loyalty among globe shoppers

Strategy consultant
Valtech France

December 01, 2015

Whether it’s through technology or travel, we’ve never been as close to other countries and people as we are now. We are living in McLuhan’s prediction of a global village, where non-English speaking parents are still amazed to hear their prepubescent offspring yell at virtual teammates in Shakespeare’s language.

Above ages and frontiers, we are now all neighbours in exchange and in emotion, through uses that have made their ways in our day-to-day life. While we experience this global village, we make choices based on these virtual bounds, looking for the best experience, the more compelling testimonies. And when it comes to brands, this has proved to be a potential source of both opportunities and complications.

Making points of sale a key step of the digital customer journey

After years spent improvising the POS experience, with extremes such as companies willingly ignoring clients as a way to establish their pedigree, brands that are aspiring to digital maturity are discovering the importance of consistency and details in POS interactions, which is a critical moment for online/offline reputation. With the booms of e-commerce, m-commerce, s-commerce and soon enough of the other 23 letters of the alphabet, the point of sale needs to find its new definition.

So what role can it play, as consumers rely less and less on sellers to get information? As they walk into the door, they already know what they want. They have compared it thoroughly to other products or services and will outsmart your average salesman on a regular basis. Should sellers be expected to rival for pertinence with Amazon or Google’s algorithms? Should they complete technology in some way? Should they just disappear? Some brands started providing answers by rethinking points of sale through value creation in a global and incremental logic. The objective? To gain the global citizen’s loyalty. Because in our global village, transit visitors are a gold mine.

Globe Shopping: building ubiquitous loyalty

By globe shoppers, we refer to people for whom shopping is key in any travelling situation. This obviously includes tourists, but extends to business travellers and youth taking some time off to move around a bit, thanks to low-cost airlines and collaborative economies. What do we know about these globe shoppers so far? First we know that they spend up to 4 times more money in prestigious stores than your average traveller. And they exercise a much stronger online influence on their peers. Hence, globe shoppers must be considered as trendsetters and early adopters.

Companies that have so far succeeded to engage globe shoppers in a meaningful way have found the right balance between brand identity and cultural specificities. They have reconstructed their customer journey around their knowledge, empowering sellers as experience carriers.

Apple, global consistency precursor

Apple was one of the first companies to try and find a systematized approach to point of sale enhancement. Of course Apple invested a lot in greeting customers and looking after perfect design and packaging, but their success here goes beyond commercial transactions. If you asked departing customers, they would tell you it was a whole experience, pointing at the niceness and sincerity of the staff, the satisfactory efficiency of their service. It was not just a sale transaction; it was a warm welcome to a brand community where excited members were mandated and paid to help others. This was an experience they could symmetrically relive everywhere, with the same codes and consistency.

The main idea behind Apple’s success among globe shoppers is fundamental. Retailers need to provide a physical space that works as an extension of the brand promise, and offer services which cannot be accessed anywhere else. This means consistently deploying a flagship approach to drag in prospects and provide a haven for fans.

Listening, learning, incrementing

To achieve this kind of transformation, retailers need to start listening to consumers - way beyond old-school market studies. Digital spheres are always moving and it is time for brands to start using seismographs and seismologists, tools and analysts allowing to reactively and proactively interact with communities. Among billions of conversations happening everyday on social media are all the answers for any retailer trying to achieve sustainable, consistent changes. Going through these volumes and starting to gather insights can impact an organization at many different levels by setting up transversal synergies, which will make the world go round. At the end of the day, it’s all about knowing and loving your customer.

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