While it isn’t yet Thanksgiving, it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas for many retailers. In this “Smart Holiday Shopping” blog series, we’ll be exploring how retailers can use intelligent technology to optimize the year’s busiest shopping days—beginning with Black Friday.
In 2017, 137 million people across the United States took part in Black Friday shopping. While foot traffic experienced a slight dip in 2017 due to the popularity of online retailers, in-store visitors still made up the majority of Black Friday shoppers, totaling to 77 million people in 2017.
From stores selling technology to clothing, toys, or even office supplies, retailers across segments have an opportunity to optimize their customers’ 2018 Black Friday shopping experiences. With such an explosion in foot traffic, all retailers need are the right customer engagement tools to treat each customer as a segment of one—and keep them coming back to the store all year long.
In-store engagement is best practice for retailers throughout the year, but it is especially effective on major shopping holidays like Black Friday. Why? Because most Black Friday shoppers aren’t just stopping by because they happened to be in the area—they came in to the store with a specific product or deal in mind.
Personalized customer engagement in the form of in-app push notifications can help customers find exactly what they’re looking for on Black Friday, which not only drives loyalty, but also drives customers in and out of store more quickly. Retailers can leverage customer engagement tools to ensure that their customers leave satisfied and in a timely manner to make room for the next wave of shoppers. Let’s take a look at how these tools work.
When it comes to customer engagement tools, those optimized to perform on the scale necessary for Black Friday are built with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) models. Using a stream of customer data—comprised of past transactions and historic browsing patterns, current in-app activity, and even real-time, in-store movements—the right Customer Engagement Hub (CEH) for Black Friday should be able to intelligently predict each customer’s intentions and push them dynamic, contextual mobile notifications based on their real-time needs.
This CEH functionality can be greatly enhanced on Black Friday with in-store beacons and Wi-Fi monitoring, which allow the system to guide customers throughout the store to their desired section. These location-based tools track smartphone-carrying customers as they cross certain in-store boundaries defined by geo-fence perimeters, pushing related notifications as shoppers walk through the store. Customer engagement tools can also be integrated with store inventory to alert customers when the items they’re interested in are running low due to Black Friday sales, and even to strategically up-sell stock that retailers want to move.
Let’s explore an example of personalized, in-store Black Friday customer engagement:
Chris has been using a retailer’s mobile app to browse the best Black Friday deals for tablet computers—the item topping his son’s Christmas list this year. After settling on a tablet and watching the price drop for several days leading up to Thanksgiving, he travels to the store on Black Friday to make the purchase. Upon arrival, his phone dings with a notification from the app: “Chris: HD Pro Tablet is located in our PC/Laptop Section. Only 10 left! Click here for directions.” Clicking into the app, Chris is dynamically guided through the store, to the relevant section, and finds the tablet he needs before it sells out.
On his way to the register, Chis passes by a Bluetooth speaker display. His phone dings again: “Chris, check out our Black Friday deals on Bluetooth speakers! 50% off, today only.” Chris had been researching these speakers in the app, but hadn’t seen this recent price drop; deciding to treat himself for the holidays, he grabs one and makes his way to the register.
In this scenario, the CEH solution utilized an ML model to analyze Chris’ browsing history and intelligently predict his intentions and mindset when he entered within range of the store’s Wi-Fi on Black Friday. From there, the CEH’s customer engagement tools guided him personally to the item he needed using in-store beacons, even up-selling an additional item based on his historic browsing patterns.
This level of 1:1, personalized engagement, optimized to resonate with each customer in real-time, is designed not only to elevate Black Friday experiences but also to build lasting customer loyalty. Retailers can leverage a powerful CEH solution to keep customers coming back all year long.
ZineOne’s AI-powered Customer Engagement Hub utilizes intelligent ML models for robust in-store customer engagement this Black Friday—and every day. Contact us to learn more about our scalable solutions for real-time, personalized engagement.