The New Rules of Retail: Connecting with Your Customers

Andy Austin
3 min readJul 10, 2020

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the challenges retail is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve examined some ways Hi-Touch retailers can survive and thrive in spite of those challenges.

Today, I want to look at how personal shopping services can be used to transform your relationship with your customers in this new normal.

We believe that the visit to your retail store is just one moment in a continuum of brand impressions that are really a conversation between you and shoppers. A personal shopping assistant app can help you understand your customer’s preferences and confirm product availability before she comes into the store, ensuring that you can meet her needs as efficiently and safely as possible.

The point is, in today’s environment, people want to go on fewer shopping trips, and they want to purchase more items on each trip — and that leaves you competing with other retailers for footfalls in the same way that websites compete for eyeballs.

One way to compete, as I discussed in a recent post, is to be overt in making your store feel as clean and safe as possible. But that’s just the first step. You need to give people reasons to come into your store — and to do so primed to buy.

And that’s where technology comes in — helping you make discovery more efficient and shortening the time it takes for your shopper to be delighted.

Here’s an example. When we recently worked with a prominent North American department store to make their gift registry experience more fun and attractive, we designed a frictionless process that learns more about the couple by asking lifestyle questions and helping them build a highly customized story page — turning the process of building a registry into emotionally driven storytelling (customer-centric,) not adding items to a list (supply chain-centric.)

The registrants’ interaction is simpler and more entertaining, gift givers are welcomed into a deeply personalized and enjoyable experience — and the retailer gets a real understanding of both the registrants and the gift givers, enabling smart recommendations on products and categories that are more likely to delight.

And here’s the thing: solutions like that are needed now more than ever before.

Consumers today are more isolated from their communities than most have been in their lifetimes, and they’re looking for something to fill the emotional void they’re experiencing. Your customer wants to feel a sense of connection, and to discover things that delight her — but it has to take less time, and it has to feel better.

Digital technology is unique in its ability to help you understand your customer’s needs and curate the experience for her.

And if you do it right, all these other magical things happen — you not only get to know your shopper, but you get to know your shopper’s community, deepen her brand affinity, and bring her personal brand closer to your brand.

Next week, we’ll look at an even more transformative use of technology via your customer’s own mobile device.

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me directly here, or click here to download our white paper on responding to the Hi-Touch retail challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.



Andy Austin

A geek with a retail operations and customer experience background