Why digital retail is like online dating

When it comes to online dating, it’s all about how you present yourself. Your profile needs to speak to who you are and send the right signals to help the dating site match you with someone compatible. Having an appealing online profile applies to digital dating, but digital retail as well. 

Retail brands need to make sure their digital presence is matching their customer’s wants and needs — in order to have a successful relationship with their customers. Many brands struggle to attract the right customers for the products they have to offer — this is often because their assets aren’t personalized or worse, they’re locked up in enterprise applications that aren’t integrated with your premier online customer acquisition channels.

The first date: Determining compatibility

I was privileged to work at a large U.S. retailer for 28 years. Over those years, we were fanatically focused on how to bring fashion and affordable luxury to our customer’s daily lives. As I look back on how we engaged with our customers, I realized that our approach was similar to dating. We marketed to our customers via social and digital channels, TV, radio, and print ads, which was a metaphorical invitation for our customers to spend quality time with our brand. Once the customer engaged, we would leverage that connection and provide multiple ways for them to grow in our relationship.

During the courting phase of a retail relationship, what you say to your prospect or customer demonstrates how well you listen. In my retail experience, the most important part for our customers when it comes to determining compatibility is how we help make key events in their lives more memorable. Personal highlights could be life events like dressing a child for the first day of school, building a wardrobe for a career or new job, selecting home furnishings for just the right touch to an abode, special occasion gift-giving, providing exceptional wedding registry tools that share the heart’s desires of a couple, or fashion and fine jewelry aligned with their personal style.

Building the relationship

As a brand engages with a customer, key data and insights can help grow the connection, as they move through the events of their lives, hopefully making the relationship with your brand relevant and meaningful. The retailer’s job in this context is to get to know your customer  better, to entice them to want to make your brand a part of their world and who they are. Clear, relevant, contextual communication is critical to the conversation that each brand has with their customers. If retailers unlock and integrate the right data, they can engage with customers throughout the course of many life events, creating the opportunity to have a clear voice with the customer and the networks of people they connect with throughout their life.

Here are some foundational concepts retailers need to consider when trying to have an engaging, digital relationship with their customers:  

●      Understanding the dimensions of your customer and their wants, needs, and desires will drive your ability to build your engagement. Today, there are more customer insights as customers use various digital channels. A brand’s ability to build that relationship hinges on how well they “listen” and on how willing the customer is to share information about themselves, much like they would on a social dating site. More important is how you use that information in the context of that relationship.

●      The opportunity for the modern digital retailer is: pulling together who their customer is, what they want and need, and what is going on with them? How can your brand reach out to “court” them in relevant ways to meet their needs? With that information, are they meeting their customers where they are? Can your products and offerings create the optimal fit so that your brand becomes their digital BFF? If a customer asks “Can I tell you a secret?” are you prepared to honor that in a trusting way?

Showing commitment 

In my current role at MuleSoft, we are relentlessly focused on integrating all of a company’s applications, data, and devices to provide a complete view of a customer which will help build the right relationship. At MuleSoft, we believe that innovation starts with an integration strategy, which is why we provide API-led integration for customers in retail as well as dozens of other industries.

At the end of the day, better integration makes you a better date, and it’s the smart play to put your best foot forward. For more information on how MuleSoft can enhance your digital retail presence, check out our retail solutions here. 



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