You have heard it before: understanding your customer is the key to success.
Before the internet, this often meant popping into your store, restaurant, or hotel. It meant chatting with customers and asking them what they did and didn’t like. It meant peeking at the offerings of competitors nearby. Unfortunately, finding real insight in the crowd is a challenge. In this data-driven age, there are many more accurate and efficient ways to get to know your customers on their schedules.
Powerful, personalized research tools can be a game-changer for your business. But with so many start-ups and options, which ones do you really need? Here are a few key tools that are changing the way people understand their customers, their products, and their competition.
For researching the best pricing models: Pricing intelligence software
With so much technology available, businesses are able to make pricing decisions in a much more sophisticated way. There are tons of pricing tools designed for e-commerce, but brick and mortar businesses can also take advantage of these innovations.
Many companies like Upstream Commerce and MarketTrack provide reports and suggestions on pricing for retailers. These systems analyze competitor pricing, media reports, and sales history to optimize pricing for each product you offer. Specialized solutions also exist for the hospitality industry; for example, RateGain helps hotels adjust their prices based on availability and competition, including a key scan of AirBnb prices.
For researching customer experience: Real-time customer feedback using mobile phones
Retail and hospitality businesses have struggled through an awkward structure of clunky website surveys and feedback incentives for years. But according to Toronto-based startup Chatter Research, the secret to collecting feedback is to simply show up on an untapped channel that your customers are constantly frequenting: their mobile phones.
Chatter Research sends quick surveys to your customers’ mobile phone following their visit, and allows them to respond via text message. Using text messaging makes the survey process easier and more comfortable for customers, and allows businesses to see how people are responding to them in real time. As mobile phones become a bigger part of people’s lives, finding ways to connect with customers using their phones is a major priority for most businesses.
For researching the best special offers: Offer analytics and optimization
71% of special offers lose money for businesses - Eversight Labs
Hospitality and retail marketers know that a great coupon or discount goes a long way, and are constantly trying to innovate with eye-catching offers. Yet according to offer innovation startup Eversight Labs, 71% of special offers lose money for businesses.
In 2017, the solution for this is analytics and AI. Offer optimization tools crunch key numbers and spit out personalized offer suggestions designed with ROI in mind. Some suggestions might seem different or counter-intuitive, but all of them are based in real science and customer data. It’s a whole lot better (and easier) than playing the guessing game for every promotion.
For researching the customer behaviour in your business and online: Shopper identity analytics
Offering free wifi to your customers has a few great benefits: It’s convenient for them, it can highlight your online resources, and it gives you information about who they are.
No, we aren’t talking about spying on websites they visit or doing anything unethical with your access. Startups like Bloom Intelligence and Euclid Analytics simply measure the amount of time a customer is on your network. They also ask for a customer’s email address in order to sign on, so you can follow their buyer journey (for example, if they login to your website and buy something later on, or if they visit again). This fills in some important data gaps for businesses with a strong online presence.
Keeping Pace With Change: How Marketers Can Choose the Right Tools To Move Forward
In the past few years, some major changes have taken place that have changed the face of retail and hospitality. In order to choose the right tools for your business, keep these trends in mind:
- The online and offline customer journey is intertwined: Look for tools that integrate online and in-store data to get a full picture of the customer journey.
- People are moving to mobile: Look for tools, such as Chatter Research’s texting surveys, that are mobile-first. Recent data shows that mobile devices are used to access the internet more frequently than computers, especially when people are on the road (and in your business).
- The face of competition has changed: The internet has paved the way for a different kind of competition. Competition analysis tools should keep websites like AirBnb, Amazon, and Craigslist on your radar.
With every year comes with new challenges and fresh innovations. It can be hard to keep up with, but this change and creativity keeps the retail and hospitality industry fascinating for insiders and customers alike.