“I LOVE this shop,” my wife said when she came across a new dress shop in our local town.
This emotional response was based on her seeing the dresses in the shop window. But what if she goes in to buy and there are none in her size? Or what if they are made of cheap material? Or the shop assistants are too busy checking Facebook to help her find something she wants. Or what if she attempts to buy online and delivery is delayed? Her “love” of the shop will clearly not flourish.
But if she can trust the quality and availability of the goods and has a positive experience with an assistant, she is likely to form a relationship with this shop.
No emotional relationship can exist without trust. If you cannot trust your local grocery store to have fresh meat you will not buy it there. If your online retailer cannot deliver your desired item quickly, you will go elsewhere.
Putting the emotion into retail requires building that trust. Retailers can no longer compete solely on price; everyone offers low prices these days. Having an online presence and offering free/cheap, fast delivery is also no longer a differentiator. So how do you get the emotional message across?
Advertising is less and less likely to reach your target audience, as it can be easily avoided by paying an additional price. As Scott Galloway, professor of Marketing and Brand Strategy at the NYU Stern School of Business, put it: "Advertising is becoming a tax only poor people pay."
Emotional bonding with your brand is a key differentiator and can make or break a company. As consumers increasingly eschew advertising, it becomes more difficult to establish that connection.
A powerful brand evokes strong emotions. Think of Apple, with its “playroom” style stores where every fan (and potential fan) can happily interact with Apple’s “toys.”
Amazon garners trust by offering a staggering array of products, free shipping for its fans, i.e. “Prime” members, and an excellent return policy. John Lewis evokes an image of a safe, reliable and yet fashionable place to buy everything from sofas to clothes.
Because an emotional relationship is built on trust, delivering on your retail promises is an important part of establishing that trust. It can be done by making sure you have a single view of your customer’s journey in order to offer reliable service. Inventory visibility is one of the most critical elements to success in the competitive retail world today.
The brand promise can only be achieved by using the right technology: robust connectivity, clear and streamlined processes, reliable process orchestration that automatically deals with things (orders, returns, recommendations) thus allowing a retailer to scale.
Because big retailers need to be able to compete with that small dress shop; offering great products at good prices and fantastic one-to-one customer service. Scaling this kind of winning combination and putting the emotion into your brand can only be powered by technology.