In the United States in the 19th century, one of the more popular forms of entertainment was to attend political speeches and debates, which often ran for hours at a time with no break–in crowded rooms with no air conditioning. Candidates could prattle on at their leisure and the crowd would pay rapt attention, because, let’s face it, there weren’t many alternatives and Wi-Fi hadn’t been invented yet.
Fast forward to the present, where the average consumer’s attention span is 8 seconds; slightly longer than that of a goldfish. And successful retailers have learned that in order to hold their customers’ attention, they have to keep bringing something new to the table (in the form of promotions, discounts, personalized content, etc.). Otherwise, customers will likely get bored (or distracted) and move on; damaging not only ROI on conversion rates, but also hurting the opportunity for building long term brand loyalty. Customer analytics will provide good insight into what specific offers to provide, and to whom, but how quickly is the reaction time between the insight and the execution?
For many companies, the process looks something like this:
- Call Brian in IT to alert him about the new change you want made to the website. Brian instructs you to fill out an online service ticket to have your request entered into the queue.
- Find the link on the intranet to the service ticket form, fill out the request, and submit.
- Follow up with Brian to find out how much longer until your request makes it to the top of the queue.
- Wait some more.
- Brian finally shows up and kicks you out of your desk so he can perform the mysterious back-end stuff that will enable you to make the changes to the website you need. Engage Brian in small talk about Game of Thrones while he works.
- Keep waiting.
- “Of course Daenarys is going to get the Iron Throne—she has dragons. Duh!”
- Brian takes a coffee break. You catch up on the 500 emails you missed while he commandeered your computer.
- Brian returns, finishes the job and now you can offer your target market a 15% discount on overstocked pants. Huzzah!
Unfortunately, while this interchange was happening, the customers likely have already moved on to buy their overstocked pants elsewhere. The process of making the edits took too long.
This is why it is critical to not only stay on top of customers’ changing whims and trends, but to also have a compatible back-end system that is easy to use and allows marketers to make real time changes. It’s not just a question of “can this retail solution do what my company needs?”—equally important are the questions of how quickly can the solution be deployed, and how much control is put into the hands of the marketers responsible for converting the browsers into customers, and eventually long-term brand advocates.
It’s a big ask when you only have 8 seconds, but it can be done.
We hope to see you there!