The explosion of e-commerce and changing consumer behaviour, towards experiences and not things, has created an urgent need for physical retailers to adopt innovative practices. While studies show that customers still prefer to shop in-store, individual brands are still faced with tough and numerous competitive players in the industry, where differentiating based on price and selection are no longer successful strategies. So, what gives? At a time when customers have more choices than ever before, the answer to attracting and retaining loyal customers comes down to creating unique experiences that revolve around the customer and their individual preferences – or ‘experience commerce’. Carrying this out involves truly knowing your customers (who’s the person behind the transaction?), what they like/don’t like, and how they behave:

Who’s the person behind the transaction?

It’s difficult to deliver personalized experiences to customers, if you can’t identify who they are. Being able to recognize a person, by face and name, are the key elements of initially establishing rapport and trust in any relationship. When it comes to other forms of 1:1 interactions (meeting for networking, dating etc.), not knowing these two individually unique pieces of information are deemed as unacceptable, but we don’t hold commerce to the same standards despite the fact that customers share very personal details (payments, clothing size etc) with brands and often frequent the brand’s locations multiple times. For experience commerce to work – brands need to get to know the person behind the transaction and stop treating their loyal customers like strangers.

What are their preferences?

Taking the example of Starbucks, some customers like to order the exact same drink every single day, whereas another customer might want to try something new and exciting at each visit. Unless you have an amazing group of staff, who possess photographic memories, it’s difficult to track each customer’s individual preferences. But this information is extremely important for delivering a personalized experience to customers. The good news?  This is an area where in-store technologies have come a long way in automating relevant customer information, and delivering them to staff to leverage at the right moment during the course of their interaction with a customer, through people-centric POS systems.

How do they behave?

Sometimes customers indicate one thing, but their action speaks differently. In order to keep providing the right type of products and services, the ones that customers really want, understanding their behaviour through the collection of pertinent data and intelligent insights can help brands stay relevant in the eyes of their customers.

Commerce should be a connected, personal and seamless experience. The widespread adoption of mobile devices, an extension of our lives, has created the perfect opportunity for brands to establish genuine relationships with their customers and shift to a model of ‘experience commerce’.