Innovation Builds Consumer Advocacy

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The annual NRF Convention & EXPO, sponsored by the Arlington, Va.-based National Retail Federation (NRF), is known for featuring the latest technology innovations—and this year’s show was no exception.

However, two topics seemed to resonate during sessions, as well as on the EXPO floor: the deployment of more green technologies, and using more mobile solutions to shape the retail experience.

While the two strategies may seem unrelated, industry executives expect both to be strong factors that could help build customer service and consumer advocacy.

While all retailers seem focused on improving their customer-service efforts, “Clearly, there is work to be done,” Juhi K. Jotwani, director, marketing and strategy, Retail Store Solutions, IBM Systems and Technology Group, told Chain Store Age at the show.

Jotwani’s comment is based on a recent customer-service study that IBM, Armonk, N.Y., conducted among 19,000 retail customers, most operating in North America. “Findings proved that a mere 20% of shoppers are actually advocates of retailers,” she reported. “That leaves 80% of shoppers who do not advocate, let alone give their loyalty, to any specific retailers.

These sobering details prove that there is room for improvement, “and retailers need to get serious and make an investment in customer service,” she said.

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