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Going Customer Centric


Brick and mortar retailers are seeing the light of customer centricity. Electronics Big Box retailer Best Buy is experimenting with entire stores tailored to the specific psychographics of their most profitable customers.

Though largely indistinguishable from the outside, the prototypes feature distinct fixtures, flooring, signage, background music, services and even sales floor uniforms, according to retail securities analyst Aram Rubinson, whose team at Banc of America Securities recently visited nine of the test stores.

The analysts noted five different store types:
Soccer mom: These stores featured brightly colored signage, play areas for children, educational toys, in-wall appliance displays and provided personal shopping assistants.

Swinging single: These stores placed greater emphasis on higher-end and more cutting edge CE, and featured separate rooms with full home entertainment vignettes and enhanced A/V assistance.

Cherry picker: Aimed at technophiles on a budget, these stores appeared to offer the most promotions and incentives, and the best financing packages.

Gadgeteer: Geared toward teens and twenty-somethings, these stores emphasized cellphones, music and movies, home theater, gaming and mobile audio.

Small business: Signed "Best Buy for Business," these stores have an expanded computer section and Geek Squad presence, plus central help islands staffed by associates wearing blue collared (vs. knitted golf) shirts.

This is a sign that the offline world is looking to be as customer centric as the online world. "It's all about you, customer," is the new motto. It's one thing to capture all of that lovely CRM data it's another to reshape the entire enterprise based on those learnings.

The challenge is that redesigning the physical stores for particular customer types doesn't necessarily match with shopping patterns. What if a profitable and vocal (via his blog) "Gadgeteer" lives near a store that is suddenly turned into a "Soccer Mom" store. Will the Gadgeteer be turned off to the whole Best Buy company? It is unlikely that he will regularly drive across town to a "Gadgeteer" store. Defining your customers is fine, but you must do it very carefully or in this connected world you may face unanticipated consequences.

While custom customer experiences are difficult in the offline world, tailoring marketing communications to individual customers or groups of similar customers is much easier online. In fact, all your customers can have unique brand experiences while being informed and educated about the same products and services. The biggest example here is Amazon uses sophisticated technology and powerful databases to serve up unique page views to it's thousands of customers. Smaller enterprises can achieve similar customization by allowing customers to self select into a category for communication. From different homepages based on customer categories to custom weekly e-zines, the possibilities are endless. Is your enterprise making the most of the options for customer centric communications?


April 29, 2004 in Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Web/Tech | Permalink


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