A form of this article originally appeared on Stitch Labs. Stitch Labs is an inventory management software specifically designed to help brands improve the customer experience and reduce efficiency. Download the original guide here.

When we talk about the future of retail, the news of the industry is boiling with the idea that brands create experiences for their customers. Consumers want more than just an e-newsletter, they want easy tracking and customization. They want more than a product they want from the community. The experiences we read in titles are often grandiose and expensive, such as virtual fitting rooms and same-day shipments. So how can small and medium-sized brands follow this trend profitably and creatively? With the help of scrappy teams and technology to automate processes, these brands not only follow the trend, but redefine and exploit it to grow. In this guide, we will discuss different approaches to creating a memorable customer experience and brand success on these creative ideas.

Automated customization is not a contradiction

Most companies underinvest in customer loyalty, although setting up a type of loyalty program is one of the most obvious ways for retailers to stay in business. improve their customer experience. Instead, they often put all their eggs in the new shopping cart of the customer. Although this approach may work well in the early days of a business, it can be detrimental to scaling up later. In order to prepare your business for future success, you may want to think very early about a management system that will evolve with you. You will also want to think about the new customers of today who, you hope, will become the loyal advocates of tomorrow ‘s brand. As your resources grow, you can consider many types of loyalty programs that will help you track and analyze customer behavior and reward repeat purchases. If you’re new to it, there are easier, but nonetheless evolving, ways to personalize the customer experience. Customizing gifts based on the product that someone buys is a thoughtful, albeit realistic, way to make sure the customer feels warm and confused about your brand. Chubbies, a clothing brand that focuses on the weekend lifestyle known for its colorful shorts and hilarious marketing campaigns, has found a way to send presents without breaking the bank.

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With their target customer in mind, they created extra gifts like branded koozies, coats and baseball cards that fit their lifestyle, but are significantly cheaper than sending an extra garment. Gifts can match purchases, too. For example, send sunscreen when someone buys a swimsuit, or golf tees when a customer buys golf shorts. This program is able to delight the customer in a personalized way, without having to know any personalized information about the customer. By automating this process, they can quickly exchange a gift that does not arouse enthusiasm and follow orders so that customers do not receive the same gift twice. Their customers are surprised and excited to receive additions and their loyal social media followers will often post their latest gift, which will increase brand awareness and promote loyalty.

Using Data to Improve Customer Experience

The previous section is devoted to customizing the offline experience with your brand, but what about improving the online experience?

The better you know your customer, the better the experience you can offer – online or offline. The customer behavior data on your ecommerce site allows you to better understand your customer and, therefore, interact with him in a deeply personalized way with respect to his experiences with your brand. As customers are bombarded with e-mails and offers that are of little importance to the way they interact with a brand, you can stand out with more targeted personalized engagements.

To do this, a tool like Kissmetrics collects behavioral data based on people, defines and tracks key customer segments, and lets you get more involved in your emails, Facebook and more. You can segment according to the location, the products purchased, the time that passes between events, and so on. The more detailed your segmentation is, the easier you can customize your email. Why is it important? Because when you create sophisticated segments of your different types of customers and customize messaging only for that segment, you create another delicious time between your brand and your customer. Not to mention better adapted commitments that increase purchases and brand loyalty.

Collaborations: Combining Forces to Get New Customers

While brands obviously want customers to like their products enough to buy them again and again, we know that no customer is 100% loyal to the brand. Even your most loyal customers have other brands that they like and these are the very brands with which you should consider working. Topo Designs, a Denver-based outdoor clothing and bags business, is associated with brands such as Woolrich and Chacos (not direct competitors, but other Topo’s favorite brands!). create unique limited edition items that they their customer bases.

how the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands - How the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands

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Even if your brand does not have the desire or the resources to manufacture physical products with another brand, there are many ways to collaborate with lesser barriers to entry. Find brands with a similar and aesthetic audience and store each other’s items in your brick and mortar stores. Create a themed “swag bag” with several other brands and organize a gift on Instagram with followers who tag three friends for a chance to win. In the same way, organize a contest in which the people who participate in the contest agree to join the list of your lists and those of your partners.

Austin-based metal tattoo and accessories company Flash Tattoos still finds ways to collaborate with brands that share a target audience. Entries can be as simple as tagging friends in an Instagram post or you can go as far as asking people to fill out a form to make sure you enter email addresses (and even additional information that you can use to collect data). Keep in mind that the more complex the registration process, the more you will want to win your prize.

how the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands - How the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands

how the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands - How the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands

Events: The least expensive way to get traffic in your store

Want an even easier way to collaborate with other brands without having to give away a free product? Consider organizing an event in your store (or theirs). Modern Citizen, a San Francisco-based women’s clothing brand, is organizing a series of events with and without partners to promote community sense while bringing people to their physical store. For an event, they teamed up with Fashion Incubator SF, a non-profit organization that supports emerging fashion designers. They organized an open discussion with the two founders and answered questions from the audience, composed mainly of their target demographic group. The total cost of the event was to buy donuts and coffee for 30 people (who each bought $ 10 tickets, the proceeds of which were donated to Fashion Incubator SF), but who managed to s & # s 39 to impose as opinion leaders the participants did after the conversation. In addition, they sent an email after the event to thank everyone who attended and added a 15% discount coupon that expires at the end of the month, thus encouraging shopping as well as a sense of urgency and immediacy.

But what if you do not have a physical store? Brands everywhere use contextual windows to raise awareness and collect data in a cost-effective way. Whether it’s renting a kiosk at a local fair or event or even creating a mobile trailer to determine the best location for your next (or first!) Brick and mortar, temporary stores are a great way to measure the bank interest.

Building a Community

Many brands are still at a loss when it comes to Amazon. Is it better to take a “if you can not beat them” approach, to join “them” or try to compete as much as you can with the juggernaut? Building a community is small to medium-sized on Amazon. They can provide the same day transportation and low costs, but they do not provide the customer experience that only increases in importance to the consumer of today. A team hyper-focused on building a community and showing their clients that they are much more than a brand of shoes is Freda Salvador. Thanks to its mobile trailer, in-store events and collaborations with other brands, Freda Salvador is everywhere his customer is.

how the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands - How the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands

how the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands - How the customer experience energizes the most dynamic brands

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Similar to Modern Citizen, Freda’s team organizes in-store events that increase both pedestrian traffic and brand awareness while creating a sense of community between customers and the brand. They often choose tangentially related concepts that are of interest to their target client, such as a floral design studio, a skin care workshop, and so on. Since they do not sell Freda anything related to the event or even talk about their brand, it’s a great way to promote the sense of community in an authentic way.

Have a backend that supports your initiatives

There are so many creative ways to improve your customer experience, but even the most well-intentioned plan can have the opposite effect on customer retention if your backend can not handle it. These creative ideas are great ways to connect with your customer, but you must first and foremost master the most basic customer experience: getting the right product, the right person, at the right time. If someone can not rely on your brand for clear and descriptive product pages, easy payment and fast delivery, you have already fallen behind. So before you start creating the dream experience of your customers, get organized and make sure you have the right systems and people in place. Stitch Labs provides brands with visibility into their inventory at all times and on all channels, allowing them to be more efficient with their inventory. Stitch connects to your ecommerce site, 3PL and markets to make sure the inventory numbers are accurate and you know where a product is at all times. This level of control allows you to not worry about inventory, allowing you to focus on what matters most: your customers.