InternetRetailing Magazine – July 2015 – Issue 53 (IRM53)

“Creepy or Cool” – not referring to the title of the latest bug hunting book but the subject line of the latest research to arrive at IR Towers investigating the relationship between retailers and customers.

The Creepy or Cool survey, released by personalisation specialist RichRelevance, asked UK shoppers to rate various digital enhancements to the shopping experience (such as facial recognition, promotional offers delivered to smartphones, interactive maps using location tracking in store, and product recommendations inside the changing room) as either “creepy” or “cool”.

Luckily, for retailers who are embracing personalisation technology to enhance the customer experience, almost three quarters of respondents rated personalisation of product recommendations based on their purchasing habits as a “cool” capability. They also welcome location-based personalisation in store.

However, personalisation in the form of facial recognition or personal greeting at the store entrance may not be so welcome. The trend though, at least amongst the younger demographic, is that they are open to a connected shopping experience – receiving recommendations delivered within their personal space like dressing rooms and smartphones, and allowing in-store tracking if it means getting a better deal.

Personalisation and how technology is enabling retailers to get closer to customers is the theme for this issue of InternetRetailing. Shop Direct features on the front cover with the company’s Deputy CEO Gareth Jones sharing insight into the journey from catalogues to 1:1 personalisation and customers being served the best fit from more than three million homepages.

Personalisation though extends across all touchpoints and, through the combination of engaged employees in store and technology, retailers are able to bring real insight into conversations with customers. Adam Goran, Divisional Director of Customer Engagement, Grass Roots Group, takes a look at employee and customer engagement and how omnichannel brands can stay connected with customers while Sarah Davis, head of Kurt Salmon’s digital practice, examines the key components to delivering a personalised customer experience in store.

Mobile devices, text messages, apps and social media offer more ways than ever for retailers to interact with customers. As a result, retailers have gained both an unprecedented opportunity to reach their customers with personalised messages in the ‘mobile moment,’ and an opportunity to realise the rewards of increased business, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Kevin Davis, Senior Professional Services Director, Syniverse, explores how retailers are connecting with customers to capitalise on these mobile moments along the new retail path to purchase.

The need to go mobile is now an imperative for retailers: this can’t be overstated enough. Your customers live in a mobile world and retailers need to get that. In fact, a third of all online sales in the UK will take place via smartphones and tablets this year, according to eMarketer, and by 2019 it will be closer to 40%.

The pressure for retailers to offer shoppers a fully mobile-optimised experience isn’t coming just from consumers. Google and Apple continue to strive to make things more mobile – with mobile-friendly sites being favoured in search results and cookies being blocked.

Paul Skeldon investigates what these moves mean to retailers and, in a separate article on internetretailing.net, highlights simple ways in which retailers can make their site more mobile friendly.

Having the most mobile-friendly or personalised site is no good if your actual product assortment is not what shoppers want to buy. Penelope Ody investigates how data is helping merchandising and insight is ensuring that the assortment is closely aligned with what the target customers actually want to buy.

Finally, the order has to be delivered. Giving customers choice through delivery leads to multiple options for delivery and collection with implications for retailers and carriers. Sean Fleming investigates further.

As parcels are now tracked through every stage of their journey so too are customers. What was creepy yesterday is becoming cool or even the norm in retailing today. Always, there’s the caveat though that the customer can see the advantage and what it means for them.

And so, this issue of InternetRetailing closes with a preview of October’s InternetRetailing Conference – and the new eDelivery Conference – and what they mean for readers of InternetRetailing.