Australians love a bargain – and, increasingly, we’ve come to expect one. Once required to bide our time between bi-annual stocktake sales, bar the odd red light special, we can now shop for marked down merchandise almost every week of the year, in supermarkets and specialty stores of all stripes.
Research released by Nielsen in August 2018 revealed Australian manufacturers and retailers were investing ‘an exceptional amount of time and money executing promotions on a regular basis’.
The percentage of products sold on promotion has increased from 30 per cent to 40 per cent since 2010; a statistic which makes Australia one of the most highly promoted countries in the world.
Getting out the red ticket gun can drive more bodies through the door but doing it as frequently as Australian retailers have over the past decade has a significant downside.
Relentless marking down has created a culture of extreme price awareness among customers. We’re more likely to change our behaviours by picking where to shop, based on where the best bargains can be had. Once there, we’ll switch between brands and stock up on items at discounted prices.
The 2017 launch of Amazon Down Under with its aggressive discounting culture has likely compounded the problem by prompting more local retailers to sharpen their pencils, in order to compete with the American behemoth.
Shifting products on sale may give cash flow a boost but the practice doesn’t necessarily deliver the profit margins businesses need to survive and thrive long term. So how can Aussie retailers turn a nation of bargain hunters back into loyal shoppers?
Personalise the experience
Collecting and analysing data about new customers who’ve taken advantage of discounts and deals is the first step. Need to know information includes exactly what they’re buying, the times at which they’re making their purchases and the channels via which they’re making them.
Without investing time analysing these patterns, it’s impossible for retailers to form a holistic picture of their buyers.
Those which fail to do so will find themselves light years behind the likes of Amazon, which has turned the process of creating highly engaging and personalised customer experiences into an art form over the past two decades.
The good news is that with a killer marketing strategy and the right tools at their fingertips, Australian merchants can rise to the challenge and make their post-sales touchpoints memorable and meaningful.
Enjoying the journey
It’s important, but not sufficient, to understand how customers tick. Retailers need to use these insights to craft customer journeys which reflects buyers’ needs, wants and aspirations. Planning, orchestrating, reacting to and igniting relevant, real-time customer experiences is the modus operandi which will see one-time bargain hunters returning to spend their money a second and third time.
‘One size fits all’ promotional emails or follow-up deals which aren’t perfectly tailored to a shopper’s immediate requirements are unlikely to cut the mustard. In today’s hyper-personalised digital shopping landscape, they’ll be ditched or deleted. It’s a marketer’s job to anticipate customer needs – before customers themselves do.
Journey mapping is what makes this possible. Using the power of data analytics, brands and businesses can strategically predict a consumer’s next move and pre-empt or respond accordingly.
For example, if a customer has recently purchased a tablet, bombarding them with offers to buy another is unlikely to be effective, however keen the prices. A deal on cases or screen protectors, on the other hand, may well hit the spot. Knowing the time of day – morning, afternoon or evening – their last purchase was made may reveal when they’re in the buying mood; information which can be used to determine when the next promotion is pushed out.
Time is money
A deep cut discount can bring customers through the door, whether virtually or in real life, but rock bottom deals aren’t necessarily the only thing that prompts them to return. A convenient and seamless experience has major appeal, particularly among busy parents and digital natives who have remorselessly rising expectations where service is concerned.
If the process of engaging with a brand is arduous or lengthy, even the cleverest or most precisely targeted campaigns will miss the mark. To keep shoppers coming back for more, retailers need to offer an intuitive experience which enables them to find what they need, purchase it and push on.
Similarly, all channels of communication must be updated frequently, to ensure they’re continuing to provide shoppers with the optimal customer experience. With a plethora of options at their fingertips, consumers are no longer prepared to wear web sites being overly complex, unresponsive or difficult to navigate. In order to be compelling, content needs to be streamlined, timely and regularly updated.
Aussie retailers with an eye to the future should remember that selling someone a bargain isn’t necessarily a customer journey. It could be just the beginning of one, providing they’re prepared to invest time and effort into making their next move count.
By Nicole Stirling, Director of Marketing Asia Pacific and Japan at Acquia