4 strategies to improve customer engagement and meet consumer expectations

Create multiple buying outlets. Ordering a product online and finding out it’s not in a local store can leave customers feeling burned. Instead, retailers can create better transparency for customers. Also, real-time tracking of in-store inventory that customers can view on their smartphone can encourage users to buy from their phone and pick up in-store, creating foot traffic that can lead to more business for the brick-and-mortar store.

Offer real-time promotions. Retailers with apps or e-newsletters can notify customers through their smartphones about in-store promos upon their arrival to a store, or after making a previous purchase. An app can also be an easy-to-use resource readily available on a consumer’s phone so they can be accustomed to browsing through the brand’s app instead of immediately leaping to Amazon or another competitor to make a purchase.

Let customers design their own profiles. When retailers offer suggestions on what to buy based on past purchases, they’re blocking control by the customer. According to a report by Accenture, 75 percent of consumers say they would find it valuable to create and manage a “living profile” used to better curate experiences and make recommendations.

Don’t be overbearing toward customers. According to the same Accenture report, 41 percent of consumers find it creepy when they receive a text from a brand or retailer as they walk by a physical store. Yes, the Internet of Things can help businesses reach out and touch someone, but that can be received in a negative manner that leads to customers becoming former customers. The same outcome may occur if internet cookies allow social sites to advertise items you’ve previously browsed on the brand’s website.

Try establishing a modest schedule of promos and special offers, and extend a polite apology message for customers who express a poor shopping experience online or in-store. Regardless of age, a customer will appreciate the personal care and develop a positive association that will encourage them to stick with the brand.