how to improve customer engagement in retail

How to improve customer engagement in retail

Today’s forward-thinking retailers aren’t just focused on attracting or retaining customers. They’re focused on engaging their customers. Creating moments that cut through the noise. Establishing communication channels for brand-customer dialogue. Inspiring consumers to interact, return, and share their experiences with others. Customer engagement is about everything that comes before—and after—the sale. And it’s a powerful, next-level way to leverage marketing to increase overall market share and sales revenue. Learn how to improve customer engagement in retail in just six steps.

How to Improve Customer Engagement in Retail (in 6 Steps)

When executed well, customer engagement strategies have the potential to transform casual one-time shoppers into loyal brand advocates. If you’re looking to improve customer engagement in retail, try the following tips.  


  1. Find a way to personalize. Customers crave personalization, and retailers are eager to provide it. According to a 2019 report from BRP Consulting, personalization is the highest consumer engagement priority for 53% of surveyed retailers. Some brands have an easily-accessible route to personalization—like ThirdLove, an American lingerie company famous for their 60-second fit finder quiz. Others, particularly in the CPG industry, have to work harder to personalize the shopping experience for customers. CPG brands can create personalized recommendations based on purchase history; invite customers to fill out preference questionnaires; and at the very least, send them a happy birthday email with a personalized coupon.
  2. Develop your social personality. The easiest place to increase customer engagement is where customers actually spend the most time—on social media. However, that doesn’t mean brands should start flooding channels with syndicated content; quality over quantity. Instead, brands should strategize to develop a specific brand personality through social media interactions. Wendy’s is well known for their witty tweets, and Moonpie’s humor has gone viral multiple times in the past year. Get people to engage with a big personality. Brands will gain far more attention than they would with the standard “cheerily professional” vibe.
  3. learn how to improve customer engagement in retailEngage with mobile (in-store). The future of retail is mobile—but not just mCommerce. Customers are already using mobile apps in stores to price match, compare offerings, and get their questions answered. Engaging with customers via in app advertising, personalized greetings, and proximity marketing will make sure your brand is top-of-mind even when they’re using devices in store. With Shopkick—an innovative shopping app—customers earn kicks for scanning product UCPs, viewing targeted video ads, making purchases, and more – and brands get the bonus of greater in-store engagement and higher sales revenue.
  4. Master the feedback loop. By increasing customer engagement, you’re automatically increasing the number of interactions your customers have with your brand. Hopefully, most of those interactions will be positive… but the total number of negative interactions is likely to increase as well. It’s safe to assume that your brand already has a complex and highly effective customer support system in place to filter customer feedback and resolve issues. You also need to master the public manifestation of that effort on social media platforms. Prompt replies and smooth triage are key to making customers feel heard and respected. Adobe and JetBlue are two examples of brands that do a fantastic job of answering customer questions and concerns via Twitter. Mastering public feedback is the easiest way to turn a disgruntled customer into a loyal one.
  5. Experiment with experiential retail. Customer engagement is all about inspiring interaction. The need to create unique and outstanding brand experiences led to the emergence of experiential retail—a trend that is only growing stronger going into 2020. At the most basic level, makeovers at a cosmetics counter could be considered experiential. But forward-thinking retail brands are taking efforts to an extreme with pop-up events, photo-shoot-style art installations, and jaw-dropping store concepts that all beg to be Instagrammed. If your brand is looking for a quick boost of engagement to launch a rebranding campaign or a new product, consider creating an experiential retail opportunity for customers. This is one of the quickest ways to boost customer engagement and increase visibility.
  6. Introduce innovative rewards. Customer rewards are another powerful way to inspire continued interaction with your most valuable customers. Rewards apps are often-overlooked channels for improving customer engagement, but they provide a relatively low-cost solution and potentially major results. Brands like Kraft, Georgia-Pacific, and Purina use Shopkick to offer high-value rewards to customers who engage with their products in stores and voluntarily interact with branded content at home. Customers are incentivized to spend time in the Shopkick app due to the scavenger hunt-like gamification of the shopping experience. After earning enough kicks through these fun interactions, customers trade in their kicks for free gift certificates to the retail stores they shop at most. Brands get seriously increased mobile and in-store engagement, and customers get the rewards they really want.

The Strategic Link Between Retail Trends and Customer Engagement

You’ll notice that most of the tips above are tied directly to today’s retail trends. These aren’t evergreen, long-term strategies for decades of sales growth. Customer engagement strategies meet consumers where they currently are and capitalize on trends that are in their immediate interest. This is a short-game strategy that’s meant to be pivoted and adjusted as trends shift and interests change. 

The secret to how to improve customer engagement is to incorporate tactics from present and future trends into a single successful strategy.

Every brand needs a healthy balance of long-term and short-term marketing strategies that will ultimately result in increased market share and greater brand visibility. The secret to how to improve customer engagement is to incorporate tactics from present and future trends into a single successful strategy. The tips above can help your brand achieve this balance.  

At Shopkick, we believe in creative retail strategies built from the best of the past, present, and future. That’s why our partners find such success when incorporating our innovative shopping app into their marketing strategy. Contact us to start using Shopkick to help improve customer engagement in your own retail brand. 

Image courtesy of antoniodiaz



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Dima Volovik

EVP of Product and Engineering

Dima Volovik is the EVP of Product and Engineering at Trax Retail — Shopkick.

Dima Volovik is the accomplished product and engineering leader who led teams to deliver innovative and commercially successful e-commerce products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions for Amazon, Comcast, Fandango, and Universal Music. Before joining Trax, Dima was the Director at Amazon, where he led product development and Engineering for Amazon Appstore and Amazon Prime Video, CTO at Fandango, and Paciolan, head of technology at Golf Channel/Golf Now, and Global VP of Direct to Consumer Technology at Universal Music Group. Dima’s expertise includes developing consumer products, marketplaces, and enterprise solutions.

Dima grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Azerbaijan Oil Academy, and he currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with his family.