Over the last few years, there has been a convergence of standard features and engaging customer components that are now expected on fashion eCommerce websites. I’ve been looking into these features as part of the ‘customer engagement lifecycle loop’ (Reach, Find, Convert, and Retain) in a series of four blog posts to provide some insight as to how they can contribute to maximising conversion to meet digital revenue targets. In my final blog post of this series I look at the “Retain” stage of engagement.
PART 4 – RETAIN
Revenue generated from existing customers can greatly accelerate digital growth, so it is important that customers are retained for repeat engagement and future sales. The “Retain” stage of engagement can be seen as a repeat of the “Reach” journey, except it focuses around the customer data you have already attained.
Current Trends and Best Practice
As mentioned, a lot of the standard outreach for “Retain” is based on the “Reach” principals, thus targeted content is pushed to an existing customer in the form of outbound communications such as email newsletters or loyalty programme engagement. These are then realised on the eCommerce site via redeemable vouchers or promotions. The eCommerce site must have an easy and efficient way for the trading team to setup and manage any form of product and order based promotional activity, including how this activity is consolidated in any of the financial reporting in the accounts systems.
There is one current trend that I believe is very important in the fashion eCommerce world today – personalisation. Retailers who use their customer data effectively and target customers to provide a personal experience in products, journey and promotions are leveraging the most out of their digital assets and capitalising on their digital growth opportunity.
A word of warning though – whilst personalisation is very powerful and can have a very good success rate, it should only be taken on by those retailers who are mature enough to be careful of what they are doing. If they are not careful at the very least they may create an uneven and disjointed experience, but at worst they lose complete control and predictability of what the site is offering to its customers.
Emerging features and The Future
Expanding on the personalisation theme I believe those retailers who want to “blaze a trail” are looking to leverage more external data about their customers, rather than only relying on the data that is being captured when a customer is browsing on site. As people “share” and “like” on social media sites, this data is being made available as part of the “Open Graph”; a standard used to allow the sharing of information and functionality via social networks in a common way. This will then go beyond just data related to those who explicitly opt-in, but instead from other external sources. For example, your payment transaction history will tell a lot about what you buy and where you buy it. Also with mobile tracking set to emerge with Apple’s release of iBeacon (where the Bluetooth signal on your phone can tell other devices placed in any location where you are), this data will be used to drive prediction models of shopping behavior where retailers can maximise their budget spend based on targeted and segmented marketing campaigns.
At present, fashion retailers with eCommerce sites need to be laying the foundations by doing the easy things well so that when the more challenging growth opportunities need to be realised via eCommerce technology, they are ready to achieve the next stage of revenue growth.