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Over the past decades, our attitude towards customer engagement has radically changed in many industries, including retail. Customer engagement measures how emotionally involved a brand’s customer base is with the brand itself. The value of achieving a high retail customer engagement is in the resulting customer’s loyalty, improvement of NPS score, and subsequent increase in its customer lifetime value (CLTV), all of which positively impact revenue and profit margins.
With the recent changes in the world and retail market, new engagement challenges and opportunities have emerged. Multichannel cloud communications are a key tool for retailers everywhere to take their customer engagement to the next level. This is mainly due to three key benefits: customer-centricity, personalization, and compliance.
The shift in customer engagement in the retail industry
The pandemic accelerated the digitalization of the retail industry. The lack of face-to-face interactions created new needs for remote collaboration, and an opportunity for retailers to rethink their relationship with customers.
For international retail businesses, operating as one entity, with employees and customers spread around the world, is critical if they want to match the fast-evolving requirements of their customers’ digital-first journeys.
Cloud communications turned into the obvious enabler to collaborate and engage across a variety of channels – and this change is here to stay. Gartner predicts enterprise spending on public cloud computing will surpass investment in traditional IT by 2025, and retailers are no exception.
Many have already successfully adopted multiple cloud-based technologies, such as the improvement of customer support and operational efficiency through AI. However, connecting the dots between multiple channels, offline and online, while reaching an international customer database is something a lot of retailers still struggle to achieve –as many as 60% say they are not effectively using data to send customers the right message at the right time via the right channel. Those that get it right and can offer customers a personalized and seamless experience regardless of where or how they are engaging with the brand, directly see the results in customer engagement and ROI.
1. Staying seamlessly connected across borders
For international retailers, keeping their employees, customers, and digital platforms connected in a secure and protected way across borders has become a top priority. Two common challenges in the industry are:
- Increasing customer engagement by providing meaningful and timely information to customers i.e. Order updates “Your delivery will be with you in 5 minutes” or status information “The item you were viewing is back in stock! Shop now”
- Increase convenience by enabling customers to reach back and interact with their favorite brands easily i.e. Calling your retailer on a local number to change a delivery date, or contacting a clothes shop via WhatsApp to check on your delivery
These create the need for a simplified access to a complete communication toolbox -spanning voice, SMS, RCS, WhatsApp and more- that enables them to create and roll-out timely marketing campaigns globally.
Unfortunately, the above usually imply overwhelming investment in communications systems, infrastructure, or upskilling which can result in a loss of customer focus that negatively impacts customer engagement – which many retailers are now concerned about, according to an April 2022 study. How are they meant to stay connected to their customers when they are struggling with the complexities of, for instance, global deliveries? Offering a highly engaging experience is therefore directly dependent on a company’s ability to stay seamlessly connected, and to use this to benefit their customers.
2. The value of personalization
If engagement is about building a customer-brand relationship, it is no surprise that it needs to feel personal for it to be effective. Research shows personalization most often drives 10 to 15% revenue lift. So, the better retailers become at applying data to grow customer knowledge and intimacy, the greater the returns.
Cloud communications allow retailers to take personalization to the next level and give the end-customers options. After all, it is about making their life easier, which can be looked at from many angles such as:
- Giving customers the option to use their preferred channels to interact with the retailer (i.e. rich messaging with custom offers)
- Receiving offers related to products they’ve shown interest in (i.e loyalty coupons via SMS)
- Self-service and convenience (i.e. chatbot to provide support outside of working hours, or. providing local numbers to get support in their language, wherever the customer is)
AI and analytics also allow retailers to take an experience-led approach to customer communications and create customized journeys. By using customer insights to create personalized experiences, retailers can redefine how customers interact with their offering across all the digital touchpoints.
But what is the next step? 90% of global enterprises will adopt API-enabled CPaaS offerings by 2023, with the aim of improving outbound marketing performance through effective campaign and journey personalization (Source: Gartner).
3. Removing compliance complexities
Lastly, multi-channel cloud communications have removed one of the biggest challenges for international retailers. Namely, dealing with multiple compliance requirements and local regulations and keeping their company and customers safe.
87% of companies already find it challenging to offer customers two-way communications across all channels so it simply isn’t feasible to also manage and meet multiple compliance requirements in different countries. In retail, like in many other industries, a solution that integrates both compliance and security everywhere has now become a core requirement. It will be interesting to see where multi-channel cloud communications can take customer engagement in the following years.
Are you a retailer looking to level up your digital communications strategy? Find out more about how our solutions can help you achieve your business goals.