UPS
Retail

The next big thing in retail: Customer identity management

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You can turn data about all those "flex shoppers" into increased sales revenue.

Retailing is a lot different than in the "old days," when most sales took place face-to-face and a helpful salesperson built a one-on-one relationship with a customer. Today's demanding "flex shoppers" are just as likely to be browsing an online store from their sofa or thumbing a smartphone during a break at the office.

The objective is to know where the best customers are coming from – e-mail campaigns, social media, recommendations or in-store – and then optimize how you use each of those channels.

In this omnichannel world, a consumer's path to purchase threads across places and devices that continue to multiply. "Customer identity management helps retailers to understand who their customers are, where they come from and what they are buying," says Ashley Boggs, UPS retail segment marketing manager. "Connecting those digital dots can drive increased revenue."

Needed: More detail on the customer

Simply put, the goal is to gather more information from "flex shoppers," and use that data to more effectively personalize the online shopping experience. "You want to identify shoppers that deliver the highest value, and drive engagement to keep them coming back," Boggs says.

Online resources like alexa.com, similarweb.com or compete.com provide analytical tools small businesses can use to gain insight on where your web traffic is coming from, Boggs says. A more in-depth option is an integrated customer identity management platform from online providers like gigya.com or shopsocially.com.

"For smaller businesses, QuickBooks or salesforce.com have plug-in or add-on applications that you can leverage to gather more information about customers," Boggs says. The objective is to know where the best customers are coming from – e-mail campaigns, social media, recommendations or in-store – and then optimize how you use each of those channels.

How to get personal

Truly personalizing the shopping experience calls for capturing more information than e-mail addresses. Boggs shares potential approaches you can take:

  • Allow social media logins. When you let people log in to your site through Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, for example, they register using their existing social identity – perhaps in exchange for a price break or special offer. That, in turn, unlocks a wealth of information about customers that you can use to understand them and personalize your marketing. "You'll know a lot about them from their profile, down to the kind of music they like," Boggs says. "It's entirely permission-based, and you can then tailor your messaging to them based on their interests."
  • Implement a referral program. A small gift, like a free pair of socks if you are selling shoes, may be enough incentive to get customers to refer your company to friends on their social media channels. "If they have 1,200 friends on Facebook you've reached all those new people without an expensive advertising spend," Boggs says.
  • Set up loyalty programs. Points-based loyalty programs can keep customers coming back as additional purchases qualify them for discounts or free stuff. You can embed "cookies" that will recognize and welcome returning customers and tell them how many points they've earned. Another benefit of cookies: "You can tell when any customer is coming back to a cart they abandoned – otherwise it's a lost opportunity."
  • Consider "gamification." A small bit of code from Fanplayr will add a game to your website, e-mail campaign, Facebook page, mobile site or online ad to turn fans or followers into paying customers. For example, you can put a small slot machine at the top of your web page. Visitors click to match three wheels and get a discount. They can then share the discount with Facebook friends, Twitter followers and e-mail contacts.

"Today's flex shoppers are demanding alternative options, convenience and a consistent, transferable experience. That requires retailers to 'know' the customer regardless of the device or channel they are using," Boggs says. "Identity management will let retailers turn shopping into a more personal experience so the consumer is more likely to buy."

For a deeper dive into what online shoppers are looking for, watch our "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper" video.

Look here for more information on UPS retail segment solutions.

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