Photo Credit: Sara Cimino

In my last blog post, I wrote about how we need to evolve from the Information Economy to the Insight Economy. This new economy is being powered by a deep understanding of your customers and their impact on your business. It requires an integration of attitudinal and behavioral data to provide a holistic view. And, it has the ability to generate insights to help transform your business. Here is an example from a shopping trip last Sunday.

It is October and the weather is already getting a bit cold. It sure is shaping up to be a classic Chicago winter! My daughter needed new fall and winter coats. My wife and I took her to the local mall. After browsing through a couple of stores we ended up at Macy’s. I’m not sure if that is because they had the biggest selection of coats or because my wife has their credit card and a purse full of offers and coupons, providing many options for substantial savings. Macy’s, in my opinion, does a fantastic job of operating in the Information Economy. They use their transactional data to drive targeted marketing programs. My wife gets multiple mailings per week with offers geared to get her in the door and make her buy. These work. This is why Macy’s has been a winner in the Information Economy.

With a massive selection of what I would estimate to be over 1,000 coats, you’d think my daughter, with her mom’s guidance (and, my opinion, quickly ignored :)), would be able to find the perfect coat and we’d be on our way home. Nope… my daughter’s preferred shopping method is to take a picture of the coat on a hanger or put it on and take a selfie and text it to her friends for their feedback. After snapping the first picture I quickly heard there was a problem – no cellular coverage at the basement level coat section. No texts, no pictures, no connectivity = one frustrated teenager.

About an hour into the process and after quite a bit of debate, we still had no decision on a new coat. Dad to the rescue! I ended up running my daughter’s phone up to the main floor to get the text pictures sent and waited until her friends responded. Not surprisingly, it took less than five minutes. These teenagers are always on! Peer opinions matter (obviously more than their parents), especially to sixteen year-olds shopping for clothes. Within 10 minutes of receiving her friends opinions, we had purchased two coats and a fleece and were on our way to dinner (whew!).

It doesn’t have to be this difficult. The rules of the Information Economy do a good job of driving traffic and sales. However, for sustainable success, brands, especially retail brands, need to provide compelling customer experiences. Here are a couple of ideas for Macy’s to begin the evolution:

  • Offer free and reliable Wi-Fi in all areas of the store. In today’s hyper-connected world, offering Internet access is easy, relatively inexpensive and a valuable convenience – both for shoppers and those who accompany shoppers.
  • Organize big sections, like outerwear, into age groups. My daughter had to sift through a lot of more mature looks before finding styles appropriate for her age.
  • Employ age-appropriate associates for to assist appropriate customers. In this case, it would have helped to have a couple of younger associates to provide some perspectives. I don’t think anyone on the floor was under 45 years old.
  • Offer kiosks with computers to search for a certain style or size and if not available – offer the ability to order from instead of standing in line and having the associate order for you.

These are just some topline thoughts based on a Sunday afternoon’s shopping experience. Macy’s is a terrific marketer and has done well leveraging its data assets to drive its performance. The opportunity to build on this foundation to deliver rich and compelling customer experiences, in the Insight Economy, will lead to development of a bond, which can create a Brand Ritual™, the ultimate in customer loyalty.

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