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The Paradoxes of Marketing to Connected Customers

23 the online “new wave” marketing will ultimately replace the offline “legacy” marketing. In fact, we believe that they need to coexist to deliver the best customer experience. Here is why: in an increasingly high-tech world, high-touch interaction is becoming the new differentiation. Birchbox, an online-first beauty product retailer, opened its brick-and-mortar store to complement its existing e-commerce business. The retailer provides iPads to make personalized recommendations, mimicking its online personalization scheme.

Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, relies heavily on very personal call-center interactions as a winning formula. Buying shoes online can be a daunting task for many customers, but a touch of personal consultation from the call-center agents reduces the psychological barrier. Another example is Bank of America’s Express Financial Centers. When making transactions on ATMs in these centers, customers can video-chat with a personal teller for assistance.

The service combines ATM convenience with a personalized human touch. Even Amazon needed to create a “physical channel” with its Dash Button, which allows shoppers to automatically replenish household products such as coffee and detergent with a push of a doorbell-sized button. It is Amazon’s early “internet of things” attempt to connect otherwise offline devices such as a coffee maker and a washing machine. On the other hand, a high-tech interface can also enhance a predominantly high-touch interaction, making it more compelling.

Macy’s shopBeacon project is an example of this. With Apple’s iBeacon transmitters installed in various locations within a Macy’s store, customers will be alerted with highly targeted offerings throughout their journey in-store. When walking past a certain department, customers might be reminded of their shopping list, receive discount notifications, and get gift recommendations through an iPhone app.

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As transaction data accumulate over time, the offerings will become more personalized to each shopper profile. Another example is John Lewis’s sofa studio, which allows customers to select a sofa model from WEBC02 10/25/2016 14:29:50 Page 24 24 MARKETING 4.0 3-D-printed miniatures. By placing a miniature alongside a selection of fabric in front of a computer screen, customers can see what their sofa will look like on the screen. It gives a very playful customer experience when choosing sofa model and fabric.

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