In the world of retail, connecting and engaging with consumers is critical. It is what converts shoppers into first-time customers, and first-time customers into loyal, repeated sources of business.
Brands know that if they can facilitate a good connection, they can improve both the retail experience and the customer experience. However, brands also know that connecting with customers is more difficult than it has ever been.
The COVID-19 pandemic kicked off an immense shift from the normal patterns of connecting with customers. It mandated a distancing that, for all intents and purposes, seems to have stuck. As the new normal pushed commerce deeper into digital spaces, retailers were forced to commit more and more of their resources to making connections with consumers online. Social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Clubhouse, YouTube, and Instagram became the places that retailers looked to for making a connection — but they still didn’t quite find what they were looking for.
Why most social platforms fail retailers
In essence, every social media platform offers the same opportunities for connection, but each one offers a different approach. They all offer users the ability to post a picture, share a video, or make a statement. They make money by selling advertising, not by fostering connections between users and brands. To succeed, social media platforms need large volumes of people scrolling through their platforms, and while they may attract an audience and sell advertising, they do not truly solve any of the retail industry’s biggest challenges in fostering connections with customers.
Ultimately, retailers want to orchestrate a great customer experience. They want to connect with people when they walk through the door of their store, interact with them, and stay connected with them. Social platforms may be able to deliver an audience for advertising, but they are too noisy to facilitate this kind of meaningful connection between retailers and customers.
As Scott Swanson, founder and CEO of Bonder tried to help retailers to connect with customers in a meaningful way, he found that the platforms available were widening the gaps between shoppers and brands — not filling them. “Customers in coffee shops sit for hours looking at their screens, drinking two cups of coffee, while those who work there can only stare at them like fish in a fishbowl,” says Swanson. “In large retail stores, customers only engage to complain that they cannot find an employee to help them, while 100 employees stand at the ready.”
Brands want to capture the attention of shoppers, but feel compelled to use platforms like Instagram or Facebook to do it, rather than connecting with them in their local store. What they want is a delivery method that leverages the digital world to make a real-world connection. Ironically, that type of platform also gives users what they want out of a personalized shopping experience.
The type of platform that helps people to connect
The premise that was used when developing Bonder was that the most important people are those to the right or the left of you. Swanson felt what was needed was a geocentric platform that made it easier to connect with the people in close proximity to the user. The goal was to help bring retailers and their customers together so that they could support each other more efficiently.
“By creating a geocentric platform, also known as a location-based communications platform, you create a space that hosts people, products, places, discounts, and more in a way that enables users to jump on whenever they enter a space and be spoon-fed the world around them,” says Swanson.
Bonder provides discounts that are relevant to shoppers right where they are, as well as information that helps them navigate the store they are in and connect with employees who can help them. It empowers brands to connect — and stay connected — with customers at the local level when and where it makes the most sense.
The geocentric platform created by Bonder gives users the power to walk away from a store and go completely off the grid in a private, encrypted environment. At that point, they connect with their chosen ecosystem without government entities or businesses burrowing into their world, gathering data or blaring ads.
With a platform like Bonder, users are no longer treated as mere data points. It is not an intrusive experience for them. Instead, they become empowered to connect with brands in a meaningful way, connect with an employee that can help them, get the information and the product they want, and even learn about promotions that can save them money. The platform becomes a tool that bonds the digital experience to the local experience, allowing for a much better overall experience for every user in every retail environment.
Scott Swanson, CEO and Founder of Bonder, is a Silicon-Valley veteran and global infrastructure consultant to some of the world’s largest and most influential corporations. He founded Bonder to provide a platform that brings people together online, offline, and in real-time for meaningful human interactions, immersive retail experiences, professional networking, community building, philanthropic planning, and business development (without surveillance, advertising, or data collection).
About the Author:
Nik Korba is a storyteller with more than 30 years of experience helping others to find their voice, capture their story, and share it with the world. He has served as a screenwriter, ghostwriter, news writer, novel writer, song writer, and blog writer. A graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Screenwriting and English Literature, Nik served as Editor of Money Laundering Alert before joining the writing team at Otter PR, which was named the fastest-growing PR firm in the United States by O’Dwyer’s “Top PR Firms of 2022” report.