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Three Lessons Digital Retailers Can Learn From Fishing


Now that the dog days of summer are here, it’s a perfect time to go fishing. While fishing may be the opposite of work (at least if done properly), there are still valuable lessons digital retailers can take from the ocean, lake or stream back to the office. Here are a few fishing-related digital retail tips even non-anglers can follow.

Finding Structure

Fresh water fishing aficionados know that fish swimming in lakes and ponds like structure, or changes in contour and depth along the bottom of the body of water. Structure can include man-made features like the remains of a boat, as well as natural changes in the surface. Knowing where the structure is can make a huge difference in the success of a fishing expedition.

Likewise, digital retailers need to be aware of online “structure” that attracts consumers who are likely to buy their products. This includes blogs, social media pages, video channels, online communities, coupon and deal sites, digital shopping and auction platforms, and popular RSS feeds. By carefully using structure to help target high-value consumers with relevant messages, offers and information, digital retailers can land new customers instead of mourning the ones who got away.

Tracking Customers

Even the hardiest of old salts realizes that highly sophisticated, GPS-enabled fish finding technology makes locating elusive marine quarry much easier. While fish finding systems do not negate the value of human instinct and expertise that can only be honed by years on the water, they complement gut feeling nicely and also allow even non-expert anglers to increase their catches.

Digital retailers can similarly buttress the know-how of in-house merchandising and marketing experts with the use of advanced IT solutions that track the behavior, purchase habits and even location of shoppers in near-real or real time. Thus retailers can make much more precisely targeted offers via text, email, automated coupon, or other digitally enhanced means at the moment when customers are most likely to take advantage of them. And the user-friendly interfaces of most modern IT applications means that the functionality to deliver highly personalized and timely offers can be distributed to store associates and customer service representatives as well as to senior marketing and technology personnel.

Baiting Offers

Simply throw a worm on a hook, toss your line in the water, and get ready for… a lot of waiting and watching. Different fish require different bait, which may be live or manmade and vary by a dizzying array of other crucial features. In addition, how you cast, the type of rod and line you use, and numerous other factors are critical to successfully catching the type of fish you are after.

Digital retailers also need to realize that different types of omnichannel “bait” work best for different types of customers. Tech-savvy, rushed Millennials may react well to location-based, time-sensitive texts, while slower-paced Boomers may prefer an email notifying them of a personalized deal well in advance. Women may like participating in cooperative social games while men may want online recognition on a leaderboard for competitive achievements. Just remember that even knowing where your digital customers congregate and what they’re doing at a given moment won’t produce results if you don’t know who they are and what they want.

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