As more and more consumers look to online review and price comparison sites, mobile shopping apps, and share product experiences almost instantaneously, retailers and manufacturers must change the way they price, market, and develop products in order to stay alive in tough economic times. “Change” isn’t always easy, and moving in the wrong direction can prove to be a very costly mistake in today’s consumer landscape. The question is how do retailers embrace the empowered consumer and maximize their involvement?
Have you ever looked on Yelp.com, MenuPages.com, or CitySearch.com before deciding where to eat? Have you ever used Google Shopping to find the best price on a product? Have you used one of the many bar-code scanning apps to see whether or not the product in your hand was cheaper down the road? If so, you’re an Empowered Consumer.
As an empowered consumer you are no longer subject to marketing messages or price and quality guarantees, but instead rely on peer reviews and technology to help you get the best deal available.
Using technology to leverage the Empowered Consumer
If you want to leverage this new tech-savvy consumer base, you need to do one thing, and do it well. Get customers involved.
- Encourage positive experience reporting – Many retailers fear that if consumers are involved, they will say something that’s bad for business. The truth is customers are ALREADY involved, and most will only go out of there way to comment if they have a bad experience, not a good one. Retailers need to encourage honest customer feedback on public sites like Google, Yelp, Twitter, etc. by offering coupons and discounts.
- Encourage check-ins – Location-based social networking is still gaining steam and can prove to be a great way to leverage deal-hungry shoppers. A few retailers have begun offering special discounts for shoppers who utilize these services. This can not only increase brand presence and add new consumers, but saving money is almost always equal to a good experience and consumers WILL talk about it.
- Loyalty Programs mobilized – Loyalty programs are always a great incentive for shoppers, but taking it one step further can make the purchasing decision a lot easier on your consumer. Delivering timely discounts or coupons via text or mobile apps can not only provide more incentive to purchase, but can add extra traffic at slower times of the day (ex: Dunkin Donuts 25% off coupon after 5pm).
- Ask the consumer - Utilize the vast audience of Facebook and Twitter to ask or poll your fans/supporters how you can make their shopping experience better. You may be surprised what they come up with.
The bottom line is that consumers will only get smarter. More and more technologies will come out and make it easier for shoppers to sniff out the best deals. It is up to the retailers to continually keep up and leverage the same technologies and keep the empowered consumers involved.