Run on the Question Bank
Traditional product packaging communicates the most important facts about a product leaves the retailer and store staff to answer the intimate and personal questions that consumers need to know before purchasing an item. This question bank has immeasurable value to suppliers and retailers but has never been fully tapped because very few stores have the resources to record and document consumer inquiries. Finding a way to unlock the consumer questions bank and respond to them has been a marketers dream for centuries and it looks like Rite Aid just made a giant step forward.
Rite Aid has launched a very limited program that places a virtual product expert at the shelf and seems designed to address the problem of knowledge loss from fragmented customer interactions.
The “Ask Alex” or “Informacist” program gives customers a chance to ask a virtual product expert the same questions they would ask a store employee and receive answers in real time. To call the expert customers simply scan a product QR code with their smartphone and “Alex” comes up on a mobile site. Once on the site customers can explore product information, ask questions, and claim a special offer. If successful, Rite Aid will have found a way to centralize customer inquiries, document the most asked questions, and respond to each on an individual level.
- Brand Authority: Traditional packaging was a one way street, but the Avatar makes it a two way street because customers can ask the questions they need to know and receive answers from suppliers right at the shelf.
- Consumer Advocate: I sincerely hope that Rite Aid will also use this as a customer service tool to report shortfalls of some products. Maybe in the future the Avatar will be used not just to respond to customer questions but also collect customer feedback.
- Advertising Platform: With the power of today’s mobile devices, Rite Aid can use questions to cross sell products based on individual conversations. Maybe I will finally stop seeing ads for My Next Date in NYC and start receiving relevant offers that actually matter to me.
Time will tell if more suppliers and retailers like Rite Aid will begin to use the mobile device to truly communicate with customers. One thing is clear, the days of one way marketing are finally coming to a close. As two way communication becomes more viable with mobile devices, virtual avatars, and interactive campaigns there will be a run on the consumer question bank with high rewards for the companies that reach it first.
Source: Online Submit Post - Paul Hudson Simons