By Marcos Polanco, e-Nabler Corporation
As a retailer, you will ask, "How can I help you today?" many times. As soon as a potential customer steps through the door, that question is the beginning of a relationship and often the key to unlocking a ringing cash register. Yet digital technology may make the question moot: Customers now armed with smartphones are walking into your establishment, scanning product bar codes, and waltzing out, not looking you in the eye, because they have no intention of buying from you. As they say, "It is not personal; it is business," and that is precisely the question: How can retailers make business personal again and engage potential customers into a relationship? To respond to that question, first we must understand where customers got their habits, and it is a oneword answer: Google.
Google is known for an intent-based approach to merchandising: type in search keywords, and the right offers appear, almost reading your mind. One of the e-commerce vendors that bid on the keywords is a few clicks and a credit card away from winning business. From this perspective, the customers walking into your store are not at the beginning of their cycle, but at the end — at a point where the opportunity to add value has been seized by a digital e-commerce competitor.