Measuring Company Performance in Real-Time with the Intelligent Engagement Index The Intelligent Engagement Index is a tool to help retail and brand executives identify factors driving sales in real time with the goal of improving company performance. It helps retail executives, financial analysts and shopper marketers stay ahead of changes in shopper behavior and develop growth-driving programs based on real time feedback. A new study by Retail Store Tours shows that intelligent customer journey design integrated with physical and digital touch points drives retail sales as measured by the Intelligent Engagement Index.
The Intelligent Engagement Index is the result of a two-year study to determine the factors important to success in the global retail market. The study, conducted from August 2019 to September 2021 by Retail Store Tours, includes the impact of COVID-19. The principles of the study have application beyond the retail marketplace.
The Intelligent Engagement Shopping Today
The Intelligent Engagement Index study is based on in-person visits to over a thousand stores in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia as well as interactions with over two thousand consumers, retailers, financial analysts, architects and business executives. The principals of Retail Store Tours researched the factors that most directly influence retail sales. They identified eight factors that in combination determine a retailer’s likelihood of success across all retail formats and categories. These eight factors comprise the Intelligent Engagement Index. The initial study examined the factors that drive success for the luxury, beauty, fashion and grocery categories.
The Intelligent Engagement Index offers practical and actionable insights to both brands and retailers. Jamie Fabricant, Director, Store of the Future, PepsiCo said, “I am a firm believer in getting out from behind the desk and into the stores. Retail Store Tours showed me new innovative retail concept locations that were relevant to our business and inspired new ideas. The Retail Store Tour team are tapped into the marketplace and cultural trends.” Josephine Ingoglia, Regional Beauty Director, Cosmetics and Fragrance at Saks Fifth Avenue said, “From my experience, I feel like I gained a third eye. Experiencing how alternative brands tell stories, engage, use technology, and communicate through the five senses has opened up a whole new perspective for me when thinking about the future of retail.” Abbie McLaughlin, Partner at PEMCO Management, a private equity and venture capital firm said, “the Intelligent Engagement Index opened my eyes to a new way to look at how I analyze companies. The Retail Store Tours experts’ perception, vision, and awareness of effective marketing were unlike any I’ve ever seen before. The Intelligent Engagement Index insights are priceless. I recommend every retail executive, retail store manager, Wall Street portfolio manager, and analyst to participate. I am looking forward to participating in the Retail Store Tours to get a bottom-up view of the macro-trends driving the retail market and the Intelligent Engagement Index for their company.” Intelligent
Engagement Index Study Summary
Retail Store Tours conducted extensive field research into the factors that most directly influence retail sales. During this work, which included visits to hundreds of stores as well as an even greater number of interviews with both retailers and consumers, the principals of Retail Store Tours identified eight factors that in combination govern retailer revenue performance. The Intelligent Engagement Index was developed in consultation with business leaders to measure the degree to which retailers embrace the following eight factors.
1. The Human Touch: The ability to empathize with customers is crucial to retail and overall business success. For that reason, today’s successful retailers hire sales associates based on their kindness and their ability to inform and entertain customers. The leading retailers focus on the human touch as a core business strategy. Nike and Williams-Sonoma Inc. are two companies that exemplify the human touch with their friendly and knowledgeable store teams.
2. The Use of Technology: Technology that interacts with shoppers as part of their in-store experience is now a winning play. These technologies, however, must align with the customers’ needs and desires. Technologies that resonate with their target markets promote deeper customer engagement and excitement. Therefore, forward-thinking brands build behind-the-scenes IT infrastructures that support a multitude of applications within the organization. The result is greater brand loyalty and increased shopper frequency. Apple and IKEA are two companies that use technology to engage customers. Apple helps customers navigate the digital world while IKEA recently opened a small-footprint store in Barcelona that helps consumers maximize their physical space via store displays and technology.
3. Store Design: The best store designs match form to function. The design of the MAC store in the French District of Shanghai, for example, features a minimalist approach that mimics the sleekness of MAC’s products and implies accessibility and ease of use. Etnia, a European optical brand on the other hand, makes use of a design that emphasizes the store’s process-oriented purpose, taking the customer all the way through to the selection of customized and creative eyewear options.
4. Brand Story: An engaging brand story, often traceable to a visionary founder or a particular market need, helps to cultivate customer loyalty and often can transform loyal customers into brand evangelists. Furthermore, once they become identified with a brand, today’s consumers want to offer feedback, and they want their feedback to matter. Such empowered consumers want to contribute to the success of the brand in the long term, providing the parent company with an invaluable resource if treated respectfully. The Gentle Monster stores in SoHo and in Asia use brand story to create an immersive and imaginative store experience. Each store has its own unique story and experience. Tiffany &Co. uses the power of brand story and views customer relationships based on a lifetime of celebrating life’s milestones with Tiffany & Co.
5. Employee Training: The general rule in retail is to hire for attitude and train for skill. This presumes, of course, that the training is well executed. The most successful retailers use a combination of daily questions and formalized classroom training to update their employees’ product knowledge and improve their people skills. Even so, retailers who additionally take into account cultural fit and interpersonal agility benefit from greater customer engagement and generally suffer less employee turnover. Sephora offers Sephora University and trains their employees daily. b8ta trains their employees to be empathetic, knowledgeable about the products and customer centric.
6. Change: The ability to capitalize on rapidly changing trends in consumer behavior is usually the trait that most accurately distinguishes winning brands. The future belongs to the fast movers who can adapt their business models quickly to the changing retail environment. Some retailers address change by refreshing their product offerings several times a year. Others adapt the way they do business to new business models, such as the grab and go. LVMH repurposed their production lines to produce hand sanitizer gel for hospitals and face masks. The T-11 Food Market in Beijing added home delivery and pick-up in the first week of the pandemic in China and used artificial intelligence to anticipate consumers’ demand and to optimize its supply chain by store location.
7. Unique Value Proposition: It should go without saying that a store offering distinctive products within a unique, focused concept is destined for success. A buying experience not found elsewhere has significant appeal for consumers seeking originality. In this regard, hyper personalization and preemptive distribution are the keys to delivering to customers the precise products they want when and where they want them at a price that meets the value exchange. The Gucci store in SoHo provides a distinct and local shopping experience with products only available at that location. American Dream, the largest experience center in the world, provides a unique combination of amusement park; active sports such as skiing, swimming and skating; and shopping in one integrated experience.
8. Shopper Safety: Kroger, under the leadership of Rodney McMullen, shared their “Blueprint for Business,” which is the best practices in dealing with store associates and customers for COVID-19 in real time. The Westfield Center City shopping center in Los Angeles offers clinics and wellness retailers as part of retail mix.
About Retail Store Tours Retail Store Tours
(retailstoretours.com) is an experience specially curated for organizations to discover and explore the driving forces changing retail around the world today with real-time virtual and in-person study tours and workshops. Participants witness the best of retail innovation in a two-hour plus experience led by an industry professional. You will meet with and talk to professionals from the companies creating the “new” retail. The opportunity to network with experts in and outside your organization and to share expertise is one of the benefits of the experience. Retail Store Tours are available in twenty-five cites around the world and at leading industry events. Retail Store Tours was launched in China in August 2019 with programs in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou. Past attendees tell us that our tours allow their organizations to be inspired by creative new stores and retail experiences important to bottom-line results. Representatives of all levels of organizations participate, from members of the board of directors; executives including CEOs, CFOs and CMOs; to those from departments including shopper design, marketing, finance, store operation, architecture and consumer research. Journalists can also gain valuable insight from our tours. We focus on retail, luxury, beauty, grocery, fashion, restaurants, travel (hotels + cruises), banking and automotive, which are industries most affected by the need for an impactful customer experience.