Metacom Invests in Interactive Communication Solutions for Retailers

Industrial communications provider, Metacom, is investing in interactive communication solutions for retailers, which allow them to differentiate, engage and communicate with their customers.

Customer loyalty today can be easily defined as a moving target. Shopper sentiment shifts in the wind, blowing from one retailer to another as each store uses the technology and tools they have at their disposal to catch the consumer’s mercurial eye.

Research by Effective Measure has found that most South African consumers use their smartphones for social networking, searching for information, shopping for products and instant messaging. In fact, the same research revealed that a third of SA consumers shop from their smartphones and 48.6% of users can remember the adverts they see on their smartphone. It’s a realm of untapped potential which the retailer can harness for far more targeted and engaging conversations.

A recent study by research consultancy Rare, found that the next generation of consumer places personalisation high on the scale of importance when it comes to their loyalty to any given brand, and 94% of smartphone users will save personalised mobile wallet offers and coupons. And, even more interestingly, 82% of those prefer digital coupons to their paper counterparts, with the majority saying that being taken to a mobile coupon page rather than an ecommerce page is their preferred route after clicking on an advert.

The way to the customer’s wallet is no longer just the price tag, but increasingly through their digital heart. Content remains king and the retailer is under pressure to make it fun, relevant and, most of all, interesting.

“From both retailers and their customers, there is a clear trend towards wanting improved interaction and engagement,” says Réan Van Niekerk, founder of Metacom. “There is a growing need for retailers to build communities and relationships which are designed to last. One of the biggest methods of achieving this is through loyalty programmes and content which engage customers directly, adding that much needed stickiness to relationships forged in-store.”

Driving customer engagement through in-store multimedia

Metacom works closely with companies in the retail sector across Africa and has seen that there is a need for solutions designed to support multimedia, audio and services which are tailored to drive customer interaction. These need to extend far beyond the simple pricing board or information display, and into platforms which can interact with customers.

Van Niekerk adds: “The retailer has to be able to communicate with customers on various levels. Imagine a world where the customer comes into the store and a display activates with content which is geared towards them. It includes advertising and competitions and loyalty rewards which they will appreciate. They can login to the store’s Wi-Fi network on their smartphone, interact with the retailer to enter the competition or gain loyalty points and the relationship grows from there.”

Enhancing the digital experience for your customer

What Metacom has done is devise a solution which is far more than just a visual digital experience; it includes the audio, the Wi-Fi and the content elements as well. Audio content can be customised to a specific store and what they are trying to sell, and who they are trying to sell to. It changes the whole dynamic.

Customers enter the store and visually interact with content, then via the in-store radio they can hear more information which guides them to login on Wi-Fi and access special offers or give real-time feedback. It is a proactive customer service loop which engages with people on every level, and gives them the opportunity to really build a relationship with the store.

The business value

“What we are developing is a fully integrated platform which incorporates each of these elements under one banner,” says Van Niekerk. “Retailers don’t need to work with multiple service providers in order to implement audio, digital, Wi-Fi and more; they can just access one fully integrated solution which delivers content in the way that they prefer.”

The platform is designed with retailers’ very specific needs in mind, allowing for enhanced service delivery and customer communication across numerous channels. The goal is to ensure that every store can engage with its customers on a richer level than ever before, and Metacom plans to continually add in new services and features as retailers require. Currently under development, the new tool will be customisable and customer focused, and will support retailers in becoming even more engaging and interactive than ever before.

“Most retailers are struggling to understand how to deliver Wi-Fi, how to create interaction with their customers and build these relationships,” concludes Van Niekerk. “Our strategy is to help them overcome these challenges and do just that – proactively grow relationships and their business.”