New technology always comes with a lot of assumptions about its success. Every new gadget seems destined to change the world – until a few months down the line when the fad disappears.
This is as true for businesses as it is for consumers, except that the chance of it not catching on comes with a much bigger financial risk.
Because of the excitement around new technology, it can be tempting for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses to splash out on new systems, believing that a high-tech experience is the way to please customers and capture data.
The trouble is that there is a danger of creating solutions that, although highly advanced and capable, are off-putting to customers.
If poorly thought out, a loyalty and data capture programme that interacts with customers through too many channels could generate so much data that it can’t be processed to profile customers effectively – so the offers they receive are no more relevant or targeted than before. This could also leave shoppers desperate to get away from the noise generated by multiple brands.
By trying to target people through direct marketing emails, apps, in-store tablets, iBeacon alerts and social media, it does not necessarily mean that the solution will be successful.
The race to become the first to offer a fully integrated omni-channel experience will only yield a strong return on investment if it can be made palatable to the vast majority of customers, rather than just the most tech-savvy. Loyalty programmes, and the collection of data to generate customer insight, are central to this.
What businesses must remember is that the rules of marketing are the same as they always have been. What has evolved is how customers prefer their communication, the options available for it and the ability to engage in real-time. One of the best examples of this is the iBeacon low-energy Bluetooth device, which can both profile regular shoppers and present very finely targeted offers as they shop.
Some data collection methods will suit different sectors more than others, so it needs to be considered how certain customers will react to each type of communication. It also depends whether the objectives of the business are to stretch visitors’ spend or to increase footfall.
What is crucial is to provide a consistent customer experience across all engagement platforms, to both minimise confusion and retain trust in the brand. This is what retains engagement and increases the quality of the data that provides insight. Get the technology and communication balance right, and the solution will work hard to increase profit.