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October 14, 2016

I read a lot these days about how important it is for retailers to engage and connect with consumers on an emotional rather than just a transactional basis. And, based on a retail experience I recently had, I can personally attest to just how powerful an authentic, emotional experience is and the impact it can have on increased brand loyalty.

I was looking at lighting fixtures at Hammers and Heels. Full disclosure, I already felt good about shopping with them before this story began. The store is run by women, offering USA made, custom, exclusive quality goods that are ethically sourced and support environmental stability – and a portion of all purchases go to charity. Alone, this should be enough to make anyone want to shop with them.

But it just gets better. After about 5 minutes of looking at items on their online site, a chat window opened Talk to a real person here! This was not a machine generated pop up asking to help me with frequently asked questions, it was actually a real person, Kate, inviting me to talk with her.

Kate asked me if she could help with questions about products and I replied I was just looking at lights. A bit later, however, I did find a fixture I liked for our hallway but needed to have more precise measurements to make sure it would fit. I sent Kate a message via the online chat feature and asked if she could give me a call.

In addition to answering all my questions, without pressuring me in any way to make a purchase, we ended up talking briefly about other things. I asked where she was located and we shared a few exchanges about our favorite sports teams, what we liked about the different regions we had both lived in. Not only did I get all the information I needed, I had an honest, authentic interaction with a person who made me feel valued.

I decided I needed to think about the fixture more. Kate totally understood and suggested I sign up to be on their mailing list because I would receive special offers and discounts that are only available to those who are on the mailing list. So I signed up, because I really like their stuff and their support.

Two days later, I received an email from Hammers and Heels with a coupon code for $100 off on new lighting fixtures. About two days after that first email, I received a second email saying that more new lighting would be added to website soon. I was invited to preview items and given the option to pre-order anything I liked because I was on their mailing list.

I ended up purchasing the light I had talked with Kate about, which was a win-win situation for me and the retailer — the light looks great in our hallway and Hammers and Heels made a sale. But even more importantly for the retailer, I was left with a deeper sense of loyalty and will be sure to visit them first for my furniture, lighting and homegoods needs.

This experience highlights just how important genuine, authentic interactions are for retailers. It doesnt always take big, fancy campaigns to build brand loyalty. Often, its the simplest gestures and an earnest desire to help that win the day and create a retail success story.

Nicole Fortenberry is an ex TCSer and was the of Director of Corporate Communications for TCS Digital Software & Solutions Group. She led the communications strategy including analyst and influencer relations and internal and external messaging to influence desirable audiences to advocate for DS&S Group business strategy and solutions. With more than 20 years of experience in the technology industry, she leverages management, communication, operational and developmental skills to achieve desirable results.


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