Retailers Are Building New Communication Channels

New interfaces for customer engagement

Tiago Silva
3 min readSep 5, 2020
Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Retail has remained unchanged for many decades with little to no innovation being introduced into the sector. But the last 20 years brought a refreshing disruption to the way we shop, visit stores, interact with products, and are influenced to buy.

The rising of e-commerce, the reinvention of the store, and the technological features added to the shopping experience, represent opportunities for retailers to leverage the proximity to the customer.

Retailers do not have to keep trapped in TV commercials or social media adds. Now, brands have increasingly more direct channels to talk to each customer in the right moment with the right message. Behind that are technological pieces that take data to personalize what customers see and when, augmenting loyalty and brand awareness.

The four channels shown next are being adopted by an increasing number of retailers and it directly impacts the way those companies present themselves to customers and how they keep its brand relevant and top of mind.

1. Electronic Receipts

As receipts are being more and more adopted in the digital format, this represents an opportunity to channel more information about complementary products to the ones bought and also present other offers.

Normally, it appears at the bottom of the receipt and its very popular in airlines or hotel booking platforms.

2. Mobile Apps

It being a loyalty, self-scan or transaccional, there are no retailers without an app to interact with its customers and increase their chances of building an ecosystem and getting customers to enter the loop.

Everyone of us has an app like this in their smartphone nowadays, it’s where we can check our loyalty card balance, our coupons, do our online shopping, do our shopping list, check the promotions flyer, and get the news.

Retailers are able to increase their knowledge on each customer and personalize the offer and promote cross-selling. App notifications with new discounts are frequent and product recommendations get increasingly more accurate.

3. VR/AR Experience

Adding VR/AR to retailer’s apps is a big opportunity. Even when customers are at home they can choose furniture or, when of the street, they can join a scavenger hunt and have early access to products.

But even the in-store experience can be enriched by such technology for trying clothes or checking groceries product info, prices and promotions.

4. Smart Shopping Carts

This is a big trend on grocery retailers. Amazon just entered in the business with its Dash Cart and it aims at improving customer experience when shopping in physical stores.

Many startups are joining the hype and solutions have something in common — touchscreens! Customers are able to connect their account to the cart and follow their shopping list while scanning the products during the journey.

Knowing real-time what customers are adding to the cart and where they are are located is an opportunity for retailers to provide product info, channel targeted promotions and do product recommendations.

What’s Changing in Today’s Consumers

These communication channels double down as business assets to improve processes and satisfy the demand of the modern consumers.

They are more capricious and less loyal. They have less time but are more conscientious. They shy away from stores and prefer experiences over products. — Deloitte

The children of today are intrinsically different from their parents. They live in a different world with a more diverse society, more prone to invest in education, moving to city centers, and with new generations under constant financial pressure.

Businesses are aware of this demographic and societal changes and are adapting providing new products, meaningful experiences and adopting new ways of communicating with consumers.

The examples above are sync with a tech-savvy consumer that feels the need to shop virtually at any time, anything and wants to feel in control. Now, more than ever, customer segmentation feels short and the world of hyper-personalization starts to be drawn.

Tiago Silva