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The Personal Shopper

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Given that economists are continuing to forecast tight trading conditions in to next year, the top two challenges facing most retailers in the coming twelve months are:

1. How do I give myself the best chance of capturing the biggest share of their customer's wallet?

2. How do I get my customers to keep coming back time and time again?

To create a great on-going customer relationship, like in any relationship in life, both parties have to feel valued that they're being listened to and heard; that their specific needs and wants are being taken into consideration and responded to; that there is active engagement and participation from both sides to meet the other's needs -- both sides need to get something out of the relationship.

Until now for many retailers the ability to create an on-going customer relationship as described above, has been beyond the pale and while we can all think of some great customer experiences that keep us going back for more, I also bet that we come up with the same ones because to be frank, most retailers while they might be ticking all the boxes in terms of implementing all the right channels, are still trying to get their heads around how to integrate and get the most out of their two main channels (face to face and the desktop web), never mind the myriad of 'customer facing' channels now available via social media now coming on the scene!

Core to delivering a great customer experience is the ability to personalize the offer to your customer. Way back in 2007, when e-commerce was the core focus, research from the Aberdeen Group indicated that 87 percent of retailers wanted to deliver a personalized experience to their customers. Forty-one percent stated that they believed personalization impacted their top three performance indicators were customer loyalty, average order value and customer conversion. To create a truly personalized experience, you need to have real time analytics and you need to action that data.

The best in class retailers did just that and found on average they uplifted sales by 40 percent and cross /up sales by a further 25 percent and so we move forward to the present day and the adoption of the mobile channel in a multichannel world.

The challenges for most retailers are almost a replay of the ecommerce beginnings just played out at a faster pace on a splintered web and fragmented mobile ecosystem.

They need to:

1. Make is a strategic not technical initiative - think beyond the iphone app which only segments the audience.

2. Fully integrate with their other channels in a 360 degree multichannel approach.

3. Understand how to maximize mobile, understanding the nuances makes all the difference as the devil is always in the detail.

4. Know how to action their mobile and social media data. Remember social media is usually performed on mobile devices and is increasingly becoming location based.

Mobile as an integrated channel offers retailers the perfect platform to create an even greater on-going individual customer experience. The data collected from the handset can only mean that retailers will be able to provide a more contextualized, personal experience. Always with them; always suggesting the right extras to go with what they want; always hunting out the best bargains whilst providing the customer the opportunity to respond back - a live two way interaction that is location specific when required. The customers personal shopping, a personal shopper!

Chris Brassington
CEO and Founder

Starfish are experts in mobile channel enablement for the retail sector

Sources: the Aberdeen Group, 'The 21st Century Retailer: Managing Customers, Merchandise and Data, Ecommerce Times.

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