Online Retail Marketing: Rethinking Automation

Over the course of the past decade, online marketing campaigns for retailers have routinely trumpeted automated services of different types available at an online store. The theory was consumers would welcome automation based on their perception that it streamlined the shopping experience. In fact, automated self-service once so widely touted in online marketing has become old news.

Automation has come at the expense of developing a personal relationship with customers. Although automated self-service may make an initial shopping experience easier for customer, the reality is that it damages the prospect for repeat business. Although ease of shopping marketing draws a consumer in the first instance, the lack of a personal link leaves a consumer wandering to other retailers in the future. There is no sense of loyalty.

According to marketing experts, most online retailers actually select the automated course as a means of cutting costs. Market research reveals that many consumers would prefer spending a bit more on merchandise of they were able to readily access a real person before, during and after the shopping experience.

Marketing professionals now advocate that retailers consider keeping automated processes but invest some of the savings realized in making the overall customer experience with a business more personal. Marketing automated elements in an online shopping experience, coupled with meaningful customer service at all points in the interaction with consumers, appears to be the marketing mantra that will attract new patrons and keep existing ones into the future.