Had big-box retailers owned a crystal ball 24 months ago, perhaps this one strategy could have saved them from a dramatic demise. It’s the strategy that has allowed independent retailers to quickly come in and fill the gaps, both online and off.
What’s their secret? Authenticity and personalization.
While e-commerce tools, strategies, and platforms are building powerful, smart and strategic retail empires, there is still a clear need to reach consumers one level deeper.
People want to do business with people. They want to know, like, and trust those they are shopping with, and feel both served and understood as they travel through your customer sales funnel.
How can a boutique retailer transacting both online and off use these two factors to their advantage?
Let’s talk about 5 ways to master connection, personalization, and authenticity through your store’s omnichannel experience.
#1 – Humanize Your Brand.
In order to connect to your customer on a personal level, your brand must appear to have human characteristics for them to read and relate to. Perhaps this is simply your voice, your brand’s quirks and relational tendencies that you portray through social media, email, e-commerce microcopy or advertising copy. Or, this could be an actual figurehead for your brand. A real person that becomes the face of your company. Often, this is your store’s owner or a dramatic figure within your company that has the ability to personally relate to your customers, allowing them to feel connected to your brand.
#2 – Create Customized Experiences.
Within any brick and mortar, boutique owners have the opportunity to host events, have personal conversations, merchandise and customized experiences that customers will remember. Online retailers have the same opportunity to create personal experiences that stand out and help them be remembered. Whether it’s unique and personal microcopy that guides a customer through your site, product recommendations based on viewing history, dynamic retargeting options, a series of follow-up connections personalized after a purchase or visit is made, or right down to the packaging and inserts sent along with the shipped product. Sometimes an ounce of effort to keep experiences personal, even when online, will make the difference in a customer returning or not.
#3 -Harness The Power of Testimonies.
When a customer loves your products, they become your greatest asset and marketing tool. Encouraging and harnessing these testimonies to share with customers on your site, your social media pages or in email campaigns build trust and connection for your brand. Sure, it’s great to see your clothes on a beautiful model, but it is often even more powerful to see a photo of them on a woman that your ideal customers can relate to, someone who made a purchase and loved it. Create giveaways, use consistent and persistent copy asking your customers to share their photos and feedback with you to start.
#4 – Master Video.
If there is one key medium that every retail business should be focused on today, it’s video. Perfection in social media or marketing, in general, is dead. Customers want to see a professional representation of your brand, but they also want to see behind the scenes, meet the staff, hear the high’s and sometimes the lows, and video is the most authentic way to share the bigger version of your brand. There are really two types of videos you should be using – first is a professional video shot during promotional photo shoots, or as an overview of your company that can be shared and promoted as a lead generator across all channels. The second type is raw, live or less edited versions that you share on a weekly basis. This could be previewing new arrivals or bringing online customers into your store with a quick tour and staff introductions.
#5 – Ask Questions.
Your customer today has a million shopping options both online and off. So how will you make her feel special and connected to your brand? Get to know her. Help her to know that her opinion matters to your brand and that you are really focused on her needs as a consumer by asking her questions. Today, many brands think they know what their ideal customers need most, but fail to get it right. Asking questions, polling, running surveys, doing live video, or simply creating a consistent CTA for feedback is a simple step your customers will appreciate, and will also give you the ability to make smarter buys for your brand.
How does your retail company connect to customers in an authentic, personal way? While the way of the future is certainly a personal experience, there is tremendous opportunity in both online and offline. Boutiques offer authenticity and personalization to fill the gaps big box stores couldn’t see.
Shout out to Wight Elephant Boutique for the awesome hero image.
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— Ashley Alderson is the Founder and CEO at The Boutique Hub (www.theboutiquehub.com), a fashion boutique community connecting shoppers to thousands of boutiques worldwide on a single platform, while simultaneously connecting the boutique industry of store owners, fashion brands, bloggers and service providers to connect, collaborate, find training, live events, and new growth opportunities.