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Accenture’s latest research proves consumers spend more with the brands they buy into. For retailers, it means articulating a clear sense of purpose and executing it flawlessly, and it is vital.

How important is a sense of business purpose? Many brands talk the talk about their guiding philosophy — their reason for being — but what tangible difference does it make to the bottom line? Is it much more than window dressing? In the end, should retailers really care about purpose?

The answer is yes. Consider this: Accenture’s latest research contains one standout fact that should make every retailer sit up and take notice: consumers who score retailers high on purpose spend 31 percent more than those who don’t. And in apparel and health and beauty, the figures are even starker — 75 percent and 67 percent respectively.

That’s a really significant finding. It means retailers who can articulate a clear sense of purpose, and craft the meaningful experiences — the lovable moments — that ring true to that purpose, can build stronger brand affinity, more loyal customers and higher revenues.

It means being authentic, staying true to your distinct business philosophy across all touchpoints. It means capturing and keeping consumers’ attention in a fun and engaging way. It means creating relevant, engaging and helpful interactions, which meet customer needs beyond the simple act of purchase. It can also include a social dimension, bringing people together and connecting like-minded customers in new ways.

Jill Standish

Jill Standish  Courtesy image.

Look at how a new cadre of curated subscription specialists like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Stich Fix, Trunk Club and Birchbox are revolutionizing food, fashion and beauty with personalized and convenient purpose-led experiences enriched with a sense of fun and surprise.

Or consider how traditional players like Kingfisher, Europe’s largest home improvement retailer, are pivoting from products to problem-solving through their partnership with interior designers Laurel & Wolf.

These companies aren’t just selling products, they’re understanding and fulfilling their customers deeper desires — to eat, dress and live well.

What’s the secret to serving your purpose? Here are seven no-regret moves for creating more of those lovable moments that really matter to customers:

#1 Light the fire at the top. Infusing purpose into customer experience means making fundamental changes. That has to start from the top, with full endorsement from the c-suite down. There may be hard truths to face – is our differentiation sustainable? Where is our business model most vulnerable? What nontraditional competitors might we be facing?

#2 Be courageous. Serving a business purpose flawlessly often means reaching beyond the comfort zone. Everyone involved — customers, employees, shareholders — needs to understand the guiding North Star vision. That might mean taking bold steps, such as dropping product lines that don’t align with where you want the business to be. Or breaking down the organizational silos that prevent you from realizing your purpose across all touchpoints.

#3 Walk in your customers’ shoes. In a world of constantly evolving digital commerce, where voice technologies are changing brand and consumer interactions. Where transparent and super-convenient shopping is the norm. And where experiential digital competitors continue to raise the bar for customer experience. Retailers need to be continuously on the pulse of consumer needs. Developing an “outside-in” perspective is vital, connecting the full breadth of your retail data and freshening-up your retail metrics.

#4 Double down on Customer Lifetime Value. Every retailer talks the talk on customer-centricity. But making it a reality is something else. With 80 percent of retail profits coming from just 20 percent of customers, it means developing a true understanding of who the high-value customers really are — and being smart about nudging them into the next purchase or the next channel. That might involve creating a cross-functional team to focus purely on understanding, influencing and retaining the customers with the highest lifetime value.

#5 Experiment in the new. Creating truly lovable moments takes innovation. That can be risky — exploring the new means accepting not every idea will pay off. But there are various approaches that can help — from tapping into in-house innovation labs to partnering with startups and research institutions. In every case, it’s vital to build an agile ‘fail fast’ capability that lets you develop, test, refine, launch, and scale your best ideas quickly.

#6 Don’t go it alone. Working with partners can amplify a retailer’s ability to live up to its purpose. Curating mutually beneficial ecosystems with care and foresight, selecting the partners that are truly aligned with your own purpose, and finding the right accountability and funding models, can all be a challenge. But get it right and you create a sustainable retail experience which is far greater than the sum of its parts.

#7 Be brilliant at the basics. Important as they are, the latest must-have digital technologies aren’t the be-all and end-all of today’s retail. The vast majority of traffic is still centered around the traditional act of shopping in a store. It’s essential to be brilliant at the basics, whether that’s product discovery, click-and-collect, or the checkout experience.

Some things in retail never change. At the core, the business is still about buying economic quantities of goods and selling them at the right price to the right customer. But some things have changed forever. Consumers now want to do more than just make a purchase — they want to acquire something they desire from someone they trust in the moment they want it.

That means operating with a clear sense of purpose — and infusing it into every touchpoint — is far more than a nice to have. It can now have a direct impact on business performance. In the end, it’s about recognizing a simple truth: your customers no longer just want to buy from you — they want to buy into you. And when they’ve bought into your brand, they spend far more with your business. That’s a fact.

Jill Standish is senior managing director and head of Accenture’s Retail practice.

Here are previous column by Jill Standish:

Think Tank: The Inclusion Imperative

Think Tank: Key Trends Driving Pervasive Intelligence in Fashion

Think Tank: Three Steps That Set the In-Store Experience Apart

Think Tank: Merchandising With Intelligence

Think Tank: Retail With Purpose and the New Customer Loyalty Equation

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