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How Product Recommendations Can Connect Your Brand to Consumers

February 22, 2013 By Ken Levy
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An old expression tells us that "all roads lead to Rome." If you're a retailer in today's market, you want all roads to lead to your store, whether it's an online site, a brick-and-mortar location or both. To marketers, these roads are known as channels. Fifteen years ago you had to concern yourself only with a few of them, mostly broadcast media and print media.

Welcome to the new age of retailing: the internet, social media, tablets and smartphones, to name but four, present new challenges for retailers. Because of these new channels and technologies, consumers rarely need to travel down just one road to do their shopping. They are, in a very real sense, moving targets that weave in and out at will, doing their shopping through different channels, from a PC to mobile application to a TV shopping network. Whatever channel is most convenient to them at the time is the one they'll use to connect to your store.

Simply put, in order to reach these consumers you have to have a consistent presence in a lot of places. As shoppers move in, out of and across all channels — sometimes at the same time — you have to be able to connect with them on their terms.

Here's why: Nearly 50 percent of shoppers use technology to save time. A 2010 survey of U.S. consumers found that 88 percent are more likely to choose a company that allows them to connect to it via online search, mobile phones or a self-service device. These changes in retail behavior are playing out daily and will only get greater.  According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 65 percent of U.S. respondents already shop across at least two channels and 21 percent shop across up to five channels.

As a result, we've seen the introduction of a new consumer behavior known as showrooming. Tech-savvy shoppers visit a store to check out merchandise and then use their hand-held device to search the web for a better price or different store where they can purchase the same thing. In other words, they do product comparison shopping in real time without even leaving the store.

How do you connect with a consumer at a key point in the purchase decision cycle when that person is a moving target, especially when showrooming is involved? More importantly, how can you engage this shopper in a meaningful way, whether online or offline, that will result in a sale rather than a missed opportunity?


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