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 In ae-ideas, SXSW
SXSW Future of Retail

How Can Retailers Recapture Lost Audiences?

This was SXSW session focused on the customer experience and how it has changed with the rise of e-commerce and the slow decline of brick and mortar businesses. Now more than ever brands must tailor their customer’s experience.

The retail industry needs to catch up with today’s consumer. Shoppers today are ever changing. Yes, they will always buy products, but the decision making process of who they will buy from is drastically changing. There are so many factors that go through a customer’s mind that were previously not consider by retailers. Consumers have choices. They want to be connected with brands who pay their employees fairly, treat genders equally and focus on environmental change. Is your retail business taking a stand?

Retailers must properly curate content to personalize the shopping experience. This session identified 4 areas of focus:

“Consumers are becoming more immersive than ever. 48% of consumers abandon websites due to too much choice and poor content curation.”


Customers require 2-way communication. Instead of cold targeting them based on available demographic and interest targeting, they prefer to opt-in to communication. This session identified this marketing strategy as prediction vs anticipation. Instead of predicting that because a user matches your ideal customer, it’s much better for them to opt-in to your marketing that way they anticipate seeing your brand.


Curating your content is imperative. Your retail business likely caters to several different types of customers. It’s best to consider your audience on an individual level prior to targeting them with marketing materials. An example that was discussed in this session is how Whole Foods allows Prime members to create profiles that allow them to custom cater suggested food and grocery items that matches that individual’s specific diet.


I’m prefacing this next point by saying that brand visualization through VR/AR/MR is likely something that is out of scope for smaller retail businesses. With that said, 75% of consumers who shop with AR want to use it again. Users on Houzz who use the “View in My Room” feature are 11 times more likely to purchase a product on the platform after they see how it would look in their home (if you are not familiar with this feature, you can view a video here). This feature allows you to see what specific furniture would look like in your home via your phone’s camera and AR. This gives customers more confidence in their purchase and helps avoid a costly return if the item doesn’t work out.

Expert Advice

Customers want you to be the expert. They care about your status in your industry. You must have a sales force that can help customers ask the questions that they wouldn’t think to ask themselves. This is huge for beauty and fashion retailers. 70% of shoppers want to talk with an expert while there are in a retail store. In the digital space, it’s highly imperative to provide easy access to an expert. This is most commonly achieved in the form of a chat box. Customers who speak with a brand representative at the time of purchase are also likely to spend more money. It’s another easy way you can give people confidence in their purchase and make the customer journey more enjoyable.

Follow the Agency Entourage crew at SXSW Interactive 2019 all conference long with #AESessions from @AgencyEntourage. 

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