Engagement-Centric Retailing


CS0211-(1).jpgYou know it’s time to move beyond the term "customer-centricity" when a Led Zeppelin lyric seems the best way to describe it: “Everybody’s talking but few of them know.” This came to mind recently when reading the Wikipedia definition of the term, which included this telling insight: “Unfortunately, most companies are not practitioners of ‘customer-centricity,’ although they pay lip-service to the concept.” Hmmm. Not good.

The point here is that somewhere along its 15-year journey through American business the term customer-centricity has become over-used, under-deployed and little understood. 
It’s time to move on to something more relevant, something more aligned with fast-moving marketplace shifts, something RIS calls Engagement-Centric Retailing, which taps consumer and technology forces that are creating new methods for interactive collaboration, one-to-one personalization and the ability to listen and learn what you need to know to succeed. 
Defining Engagement-Centric Retailing
The principles of engagement-centric retailing are based on the recognition that retail is undergoing a major transformation today caused by a never-ending wave of shopper-driven forces, primarily smart devices and social networking.
Retailers need to become aligned with these forces by tapping into their unique capabilities, such as crowdsourcing, to create new products, and the ability to use the viral nature of social media to multiply the impact of promotional campaigns. And while empowered customers demand to be met on their terms and their devices, it is equally important to use the power of these new tools to level the playing field for the retail workforce by giving them the means to sell more and deliver higher customer satisfaction.
Evidence from the recent RIS “Resetting Store Priorities” study indicates the vast majority of retailers are already heavily involved with social media, with 100% of retailers surveyed reporting they have some level of involvement with Facebook.
Retailers using the mobile channel to reach customers in an engagement-centric manner are racing to catch up to their social media initiatives, which have a slight edge in deployment maturity. In the initial phase, retailers should roll out capabilities of high interest to the broadest base of shoppers, while in the advanced phase they should focus on capabilities that are clear differentiators.
Engagement-Centric Retailing for Enterprise and Store
Because consumers have adopted mobile and social media channels faster than retailers, much of the early focus has been on customer-facing initiatives. But the focus is about to shift to the enterprise and store as technology vendors roll out engagement-centric solutions that will unleash new ways to enable workforces to work smarter, become more productive and deliver superior customer service.  
Engagement-centric retailers will begin to embed the capabilities of Web 2.0, mobile phones and social media into core retail functions such as workforce management, store operations, merchandising and marketing.
According to the RIS report “Preparing for the Mobile-Enabled Workforce”, enterprise solutions will be delivered on-demand and on any device to regional managers, store managers and store associates, who will finally be able to level the playing field with newly empowered customers.
Initial engagement-centric steps at the enterprise and store levels will focus on catching up to game-changing shopper trends powered by the fast-moving consumerization of technology.
Today’s digitally empowered consumers and workforces are demanding more from retailers and they are likely to defect if another retailer better meets their needs. If retailers want to succeed in this new reality they must become more relevant and connected, and move in the direction of engagment-centric retailing.
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