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Multichannel Engagement: From Teens to Seniors and Everything in Between


From mobile tech-savvy teens to the octogenarian shopper, retailers are perhaps for the first time ever addressing the widest and most diverse customer set in history. With life expectancy in the United States at an all-time high, the economy in an upswing and more people connected than ever before through smart phones and smart jewelry, retailers are marketing to increasingly wider and diverging audiences.

Here are some practical tips to help retailers address the impact of age on customer journey preferences as well as advice on balancing traditional branding, marketing and customer guidance with innovative mobile and other technology options.

The start of the customer journey

For mobile shoppers, the customer journey may begin with social media posts of new offers or exclusives – for others it may be a mailed circular. Regardless of the marketing formats you use – and at this point in our history – chances are you are using many, offers and invites should be clear and easily understandable.

Visual story telling is important across all mediums, so the brand imagery you use should be the highest possible quality as this may be the first point across all ages that conveys the feelings associated with your store. Text should be clear, clean and concise as well as legible. Try to avoid overcrowding and using jargon on printed media such as “like us on Facebook” as this may be a turnoff with certain demographics.

Regardless of age, having an inviting store entrance is key to ensuring a great customer journey. While having a busy looking entryway may seem initially exciting, it can be overwhelming for older shoppers. Dim lighting and loud pumping music maybe good for a retailer exclusively targeting teens, Millennials and GenXers, but if you are a retailer that offers products for all ages – bright lighting and softer contemporary music selections are a better choice.

Make sure to use clear, attractive and legible signage, keep the aisles uncluttered and use directional guidance technology. All of these can work harmoniously, provided the concepts are well thought out and laid out. Having a mobile greeter complete with an iPad and customer preferences on hand may be excellent for some demographics, but it may be overwhelming and intrusive for others. With proper training, staffers can address customers at their comfort level without making them feel isolated, unwanted or stalked.

The customer journey

Technology is omnipresent in retail and innovation continues to impact how we sell to shoppers. And while elderly customers may not have smartphones or even email addresses to share at checkout, there are ways to use technology to attract and retain all ages. Customers from teens to seniors can be engaged via new technological advances provided the technology is easily understandable and provides an immediate benefit.

If you are looking to direct or guide customers, or introduce a new product or service, digital signage can be a great way to reach multi-generational audiences. With clear visuals, great audio instructions and even interactive features, shoppers can connect with your store in a way that delights and doesn’t alienate them. By viewing and listening to digital signage solutions, shoppers can watch and learn, listen and interact (as often as they like) in a participatory fashion – and try new things. Recently, ShopRite introduced its new product scanning solution via the Tensator Virtual Assistant, and because customers could listen to the instructions as often as they liked or needed to, they were able to successfully rollout the scanning solution across all demographics.

From the red deli wheel to virtual queuing, most customers are familiar with the concept of taking a ticket and waiting to be called for service or for product pickup. During these transitory years, it is best if both actual tickets and virtual tickets are made available to customers based on their preference. Having HD screens with both audio and visual cues will also help capture customers’ attention to ensure they are being served in the order of their arrival or appointed time for pickup.

If possible, have a few designated attractive spaces with seating. For older customers, having a spot to rest, regroup and think things over may mean the difference between leaving and making a purchase. Also making sure staffers are trained to understand age related preferences can go a long way in recommendations and repeat business. A store that welcomes and engages people at their comfort level will win accolades on social media as well as at the mah-jong table.

The end of the journey

Whether your feet or back are aching or you are on your lunch break, no one likes standing on long checkout lines or waiting for people with a bazillion coupons, or complicated transactions. Switch to a serpentine line and offer your customers in-queue merchandising. Not only have serpentine lines been proven to move customers faster, you also give shoppers extended browse time to look at innovative, low cost impulse items guaranteed to boost sales. And while offering teen, Millennial and GenX shoppers mobile credits or points at checkout may make sense, telling older shoppers to follow you on twitter may not be the best way to engage them.

Each customer journey is unique and while it is challenging to meet so many demographic needs, with a little care and planning it is achievable. Being inclusive and sensitive to multigenerational shoppers and their needs across multichannels will help ensure repeat business for generations to come.

David Cohen is head of business development at Tensator Group.

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