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GUEST COMMENT Personalisation is key to retail success – so how do you do it right?

Personalisation: key to retail post COVID
Personalisation: key to retail post COVID

Personalisation will be the key for retailers to create a compelling experience as shoppers settle into their new post-COVID-19 habits, with retailers needing to consider incorporating personalisation into their online and offline strategies as a priority. Ciaran Bollard, CEO of Kooomo explains how it works.

 

As highlighted in a recent Forrester report, personalisation is particularly important for ‘delivering the right experience to the right customer at the right time’, with 69% of buyers now expecting an ‘Amazon-style’ buying experience that includes personalised recommendations.

 

Personalisation is not a new technique in retail, but it is evolving and there is a careful balance that needs to be made in terms of offering personalised experiences, while not evading one’s privacy. Online shoppers will become frustrated if a website’s content is irrelevant to their interests and the majority of customers have stated they are willing to share personal data with their favourite brands if it results in a better and more customised shopping experience.

 

However, customers will quickly become even more frustrated if they feel you’ve overstepped the mark in taking too much of their personal data.

 

Start by collecting your customer’s data

The first step is to begin ethically collecting data from your customers to create a personalised experience that can automatically generate purchasing suggestions and appropriate offers.

 

We suggest collecting any personal details as early in the customer journey as possible or, at the very least, allowing consumers to checkout as a guest by submitting their email address before purchase. This way, you can avoid customers dropping off your site without first securing the opportunity to follow up with them through future email communications. This can help to reduce the probability of cart abandonment and prevent lost sales.

 

It must be emphasised that retailers carry the responsibility to use any information collected from customers in an open and honest manner and to also ensure this information remains secure. It is also crucial to avoid inundating your customers’ inboxes with emails and overloading their browsing sessions with annoying pop-ups. A good way to think about this is to create the type of satisfying shopping experience that you would expect in a physical store. This includes respecting personal space and giving your customers the choice to opt-in or out of any promotional messages.

 

Personalising the Customer Experience (CX)

According to a recent Forrester report, 78% of consumers are only likely to utilise coupons or other offers if those promotions are directly related to how the consumer has previously interacted with the brand. Personalised preferences should be based on interactions such as what consumers with similar shopping habits and interests have purchased. Suggesting offers and promotions that are relevant can really help to increase sales and improve customer satisfaction levels.

 

IMRG, the UK’s Online Retail Association, has also stressed the importance of moving further upstream in the shopping lifecycle by creating personalised campaigns that can react to browsing behaviour with messages before an item has been added to a basket. Retailers can leverage this browsing data to re-engage with visitors and suggest personalised offers that can increase the success of shopping sessions while also minimising cart abandonment.

 

Personalising the in-store experience

Personalising in-store experiences can be better managed through the use of an omnichannel solution that allows customers to maintain a continuous flow between online and offline. By syncing information gathered online with the central Point of Sale (POS) system in-store, shop assistants can track orders, recreate them, and even make suggestions based on previous purchasing history.

 

Using Bluetooth beacon technology can also be valuable for improving the in-store experience, as it can be used to create heat maps that reveal hot spots and deliver real-time promotional content which helps improve the personalisation of store offerings. Retailers can also use this technology to create socially distanced shopping that supports safe in-store browsing.

 

Successful retailers will be the ones who can provide a personalised experience in a secure and ethical way that also strikes a careful balance between helpful and annoying communications, both online and in-store. The bottom line is that today’s consumers have come to expect personalisation as standard and therefore you may lose customers to your competitors if you don’t have the right strategy and technologies in place to achieve this.

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