It’s vital for retailers to stay on top of technology trends. Understanding how emerging tech like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will impact your business enables retailers to be first-to-market with new offerings that can help entice shoppers. Sephora has done a great job over the years of being on the cutting edge of tech innovations, introducing shopper-facing features like Virtual Artist, an augmented reality app that enables shoppers to try on makeup and even eyelashes virtually. But there are also ways to leverage existing tech investments to attract, convert and retain shoppers today without having to develop sophisticated AR apps, virtual dressing rooms, and magic mirrors.
Email is a great place to start. With 4400% ROI, email is one of the most effective ways for retailers to reach customers, but only if it’s done right. With open rates already low, retailers are in danger of getting lost in the noise – especially if they’re not engaging with customers in new and relevant ways.
Think like a personal shopper
By leveraging customers’ browsing and purchase data, retailers can send relevant and individualized email content to their subscribers, mimicking the personal shopping experience a customer would receive in store. But just like a personal shopper wouldn’t follow a consumer around asking if they’d like to buy an item they already decided they didn’t want, email campaigns shouldn’t continually show consumers the same types of items over and over again. It seems obvious, but this is lost on a majority of retailers today. In fact, 62 percent of the time, retailers send the same email on the same day to people who have shopped with them in the past and to those who have never spent a dime at their store. There’s simply no excuse for retailers to use batch-and-blast tactics when customer data and the technology to make sense of it all are within reach.
Invest equally in personalization and creative
In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, beautiful creative has become status quo. But it’s important that retail marketers do not get too caught up in the visual allure and forget what matters most: relevant, individualized content. To avoid falling victim to imagery that doesn’t resonate, retailers should use A/B testing to quantify how much an incremental investment in email creative is actually worth.
Introducing new or underexposed product categories
Consider investing 20 percent more of your budget in product categories or demographics that are underserved. For a retailer like L.L. Bean, maybe it’s sending an email promoting Double L Polos to Millennial men. Measure the effect on that sub-section of the population and then see whether additional creative moves the needle. Not only does this help diversify outside of the main product areas that a retailer might be over-exposing (in this case, it could be L.L. Bean’s famous Bean Boots), but it arms retailers with valuable customer data they can use to inform their next campaign. The best way to achieve this is to leverage machine learning to make sense of all the data and guide you to the content you should create. This is a lot more impactful than sending out a pretty email and hoping it sticks.
Staying on top of tech trends can seem like a daunting task, but there are plenty of innovative strategies that can be implemented with existing technology investments that will help you stay relevant and keep your customers coming back for more.