Industry Insights: One-to-Many… One-to-a Few… One-to-One…

If your customers are retail based, chances are they’re investigating one-to-one marketing techniques and how implementing one-to-one customer interaction would affect their sales.

One-to-one (1:1) customer interaction delivers a message and experience specific to the interests of the individual customer. We’ve all experienced it on the Internet when we go to a familiar site and the content we see is based on the retailer’s knowledge of our previous purchases, page visit history, wish lists, etc. The retailer has customized the experience for us. Retailers are looking for ways to expand the 1:1 experience from the Internet to other touch points, including in-store, mobile, direct mail, and more.

The SGIA community has a long history of providing a “one-to-many” solution for the retail community. Traditional printing technologies were most cost effective when long print runs were the requirement. However, much to the concern of graphics producers, many print orders were sent offshore to take advantage of low prices for large inventories of printed graphics. With the adoption of digital imaging technologies, the game changed. We affectively added the option of customization or “one-to-a few” market segmentation. The added capability of digital imaging came just at the right time as retailers were eager for customization to address differences in demographics.

Working with nearby graphics producers, retail customers now had the opportunity to customize their message based on regional demographics or other customer profiles. Print buyers were no longer tied to huge inventories, high shipping costs, and the risk of missing an opportunity as consumer interests shifted faster than they could react. Their graphic producers could respond quickly with customized solutions.

The SGIA community continues to be very successful at helping retailers transition from mass marketing to market segment customization.

Now, we must determine what our role will be as the retail community pushes toward 1:1 interaction. I believe we’ll see the use of multiple technologies carefully coordinated to provide an intended customer experience. For example, dynamic displays, with interactive capability, incorporated in an environmental graphic will create a personalized environment for the customer. The ability to change environments quickly and easily will be valued. Mounting and display systems for graphics that allow retailers to adjust to changing demographics will support the move toward a 1:1 dynamic. QR codes, personalized URLs (pURLs), and other technologies that allow mobile technologies to interact with environmental graphics will also help retailers pinpoint their marketing focus.

Retailers put a great effort into environmental presentation, in-store dynamics, and purchase motivation opportunities. Retailers need to attract and hold the interest of their customers. In today’s marketplace, the increased effort required to hold customer attention translates into more frequent redesigns for store environments and ties to online and mobile resources.

Toys ’R Us provides some interesting examples of tying the online experience to the brick and mortar store. In some stores, you can pay for your purchases by tapping your phone on a special kiosk. The payment transaction is completed through Google Wallet. Also in some Toys ’R Us stores, walking through the door opens a series of discount coupons on your smartphone that can be used during your shopping visit or saved for next time. These are just a couple examples of a retailer tailoring its store experience to the customer.

As we head into 2012, graphics producers will be met with new challenges. Imagers will have to look beyond just providing graphics and hold a better understanding of what’s driving brand manager and retailer decisions. One way the imaging community can learn how to navigate new market opportunities is to attend the SGIA 2012 Business Development Conference (Chicago, IL; May 15-16). At this two-day event, you’ll hear from company representatives and brand managers, as well as an exclusive print buyer panel to help you increase your competitive edge.