Communication today: Not so easy

Las Vegas -- Jim Crawford led the attendees of the Presidents Council Advisory Board Meeting in a demonstration of the type of whiz-bang communications technology that could -- conceivably -- help retailers engage with customers.

There is no doubt, however, that the issue of managing customer communication is more difficult than ever for retailers. 

Crawford, executive director of the Global Retail Executive Council as well as the principal of consulting firm Taberna Retail, spelled out the challenge. "The shopper today is more demanding and has higher expectations than any other point in history," he said.

Taberna's research spelled out what consumers want in terms of shopping environment. Sixty-six percent of shoppers say they want improved customer service, and 61% say they want "accessible information before making a purchase." Those numbers, he said, clearly show where retailers should focus their energies, as opposed to "tailored experience" -- sought by 23% of shoppers.

Managing modern communication -- including all social media -- includes creating a link between physical stores and online stores; and creating a link between product and more. 

Success in this field is a struggle, he said. He offered this caution: "If what you're doing is easy, you're doing it wrong." 

The goal for navigating new media and new technology include capturing lost demand inside the store and creating demand for your products outside the store, he said. It’s also important to leverage new sources of information about the shopper by engaging them in places such as Twitter and Facebook. “And don't be afraid of negative feedback by online reviewers,” he said.

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