By Uma Talreja, Chief Digital Officer, Raymond
There is a marked change in the customer engagement dynamic over the last couple of years. This change is radical, it’s far-reaching and it’s being driven by customers. The customer today is informed, in control and has the ability to make smart choices with speed and agility anytime and anywhere. In fact, the customer is moving faster than most businesses.
So from tracking customers as a revenue mechanism, organizations have shifted to tracking the customer’s affinity engagement. They are trying to analyze what the customers think of their brand and where are customers leading them.
Consumer engagement is increasingly becoming the subject of top-level discussions. It’s no longer just a marketing issue alone in terms of what you found in certain market researches, customer feedback at the stores or what your channel partners say about customers. Customer data has started to get aggregated at a large centralized data level creating learning and guiding top management. The executive management is showing a great deal of curiosity and interest in putting together, bit by bit, fragment by fragment, the jigsaw puzzle of customer engagement. They know this can be a long-term sustainable strategy. This is a big shift: management getting intimately involved in customer-related conversations.
Digital tools are accelerating the pace of this change and turning customer centricity into an urgent business imperative. Today’s customer is online all the time. And brands have to be where the customer is. So they have no choice but to change the way they perceive customer connect.
Internally, we set up a Digital Customer Center in February 2016. We are bolting digital to our existing businesses. However, there will be a time when digital will have to evolve the business models and processes we are operating on along with the productivity mechanics that we have.
Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) will revolutionize the retail industry by redefining the way retailers engage with consumers. It enables retailers to reach out to customers at a personal level, engage in deeper interactions and enhance their experience with the brand. The technology allows shoppers to find products according to intent as opposed to product specification. AI helps build those linkages. At Raymond, we want to leverage AI in ways that help us operate not like a textile manufacturer but like a stylist.
Data will be the foundation stone of the store of the future. While people willingly share personal information on Facebook and Google or share credit card details with e-commerce companies, developing enough trust for consumers to share their data in physical stores remains a challenge. So getting customer data will be key.
The concept of the store of the future is evolving. Retailers will have to revitalize how they operate the stores and treat consumers as a point of interaction and a point of engagement. There’s a lot of work being done in stores to see how you can serve the customer and pique their imagination.
Analytics will take on different forms if it takes into account the different cognitive tools that have come in. It will help us reach out to customers in a new meaningful way and solve problems in a fast and effective manner.