How to be a ‘phy-gital’ retailer [Sponsor Content]

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Incorporating digital programs into existing frameworks is a dilemma facing many organizations today. In an effort to help businesses with this problem, software solutions provider EPAM hosted a webinar with Rex Lee and Warren Cable, VPs of digital operations at Canadian Tire. Both Lee and Cable explained how they used omni-channel and digital programs in their retail environment.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Lee and Cable started things off by explaining what digital marketing was not. According to them, digital marketing is not adopting the newest devices or following tech trends and cycles. For Canadian Tire, effective digital marketing is using a pragmatic approach to find tools that enhance consumer experiences.

Why Go Digital?

We know digital is a growing trend because of new technology and emerging platforms, but what’s its business value? After all, e-commerce accounts for less than 20 percent of total retail revenue. While that’s true, we also know that digital programs influence as much as 50 percent of retail revenue. That’s why companies are looking to merge digital programs with traditional programs in an effort to reach more consumers and boost sales. Welcome to multi-channel marketing. Even though purchases might occur in-store, the customer’s purchasing path might start online.

What Does It Mean To Be Pragmatic?

Lee and Cable repeatedly emphasize the importance of being pragmatic. For Canadian Tire, it means finding the simplest solution, regardless of trends and technology. Lee offered an example to illustrate the point. His barber, who isn’t tech savvy, notifies customers of wait times through the messaging app, WhatsApp.

There are more advanced options, such as facial recognition software and cloud computing technology that could automatically send updates, but the barber’s approach is simple and effective. Companies often overcomplicate digital programs, leading to failure. It’s not about finding a use for new technology, but rather, finding the right technology.

Making the C.A.S.E

Lee and Cable summarized Canadian Tire’s digital approach with the acronym C.A.S.E. Each of these letters represents a goal they hope to accomplish with each digital program. The following are examples explaining what each letter means, and what solutions Canadian Tire implemented.

Connect

Connecting means developing a deeper and richer understanding of customers. For those familiar with Canadian Tire, you’ll know its heritage loyalty program. Long before reward cards, Canadian Tire distributed its own money for purchases. While it encouraged people to return and buy more, it told the company nothing about the customer.

The solution to this problem was creating a mobile app that allowed people to create profiles and keep an online Canadian Tire money balance. This was mutually beneficial because customers didn’t have to carry around stacks of loyalty cash, and the company could collect useful information on customers.

Accelerate

Digital solutions are meant to accelerate purchases and value. How does this work for a physical retailer like Canadian Tire? Well, 90 percent of Canadians live within 15 minutes of Canadian Tire locations. That means it could offer e-commerce options, but the ability for immediate pickup.

Retailers like Canadian Tire know their customers often have an immediate need, and don’t want to wait for shipping. By combining an e-commerce site with physical locations, customers can make online purchases and have the convenience of immediate value.

Simplify

Shopping can be a complicated, stressful experience when you don’t know what to get. For example, if you need new windshield wipers for your car, which ones do you get? You can enter a store with over a hundred options, and have no idea which ones will fit your car.

Canadian Tire installed tablets in its automotive sections so customers could enter their car make, model and year, and learn instantly which accessories fit. Those who can’t find what they need won’t buy something, whereas a system that provides certainty is more likely to lead to more sales.

Engage

The purpose of engaging isn’t just finding new ways to reach customers, but solidifying relationships so they keep coming back. Digital tools offer a tremendous amount of solutions to make this possible,

The West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping mall, has a massive Sports Check location, which falls under Canadian Tire’s umbrella. Canadian Tire saw it as a perfect location to use digital solutions to increase engagement. It installed hundreds of interactive features, such as treadmills that analyze your running and recommend shoes to golf simulators that get the right clubs in your hands.

The important takeaway from this webinar is that digital tools are meant to support business goals and functions. Canadian Tire didn’t try and create new strategies that match emerging digital trends. Instead, it took existing strategies, and enhanced them using the right digital programs.

This is sponsored content courtesy SAP

Flickr photo via Creative Commons

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Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado is a business technology consultant for several Fortune 500 companies. He is also a frequent contributor to news outlets such as Wired, Tech.co, and Cloud Tweaks. Rick enjoys writing about the intersection of business and new innovative technologies
Rick Delgado

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