Almost every sector is in the midst of a full-scale digital transformation, and retail is no exception. The pandemic increased consumers’ reliance on digital channels, with three out of four people doing more shopping online than they had previously. Customers’ shopping habits haven’t been quick to change as we adapt to a new reality, with 72% of today’s retail interactions going digital.
As retailers have increasingly worked to optimise their digital capabilities, shoppers have been given more choice than ever before. However, with so many of their daily activities now carried out online, customers’ expectations are also higher than ever. With a multitude of retailers at their fingertips, two-thirdsof customers now expect the brands they shop with to understand their unique needs and preferences. To meet these rising demands, retailers must ensure their services and the experiences they provide are personalised to each customer, whichever channel they use – whether website, app, or social media.
The dilemma of disconnected data
To provide truly personalised shopping experiences, retailers need a unified view of each customer so they have a more complete understanding of what makes them tick. This includes everything from information about their browsing preferences and purchase history, to their age and location. However, many retailers are struggling to achieve this level of holistic visibility. The increase in digital interactions over the past few years has fuelled demand for new IT projects and initiatives, which means retailers are dealing with more applications and data than ever before. This data is often stored in disparate silos, scattered across the business.
Retailers need to be able to compile this data in one place to analyse it in context and gain a clearer picture of their customers. The problem is that by the time they’re able to bring it all together, the data is often out of date. It’s therefore unsurprising that nearly two-in-three retailers struggle to provide completely connected experiences across all channels. Without being able to integrate customer data, it’s impossible for retailers to have insight into their needs or tailor experiences. In practice, this means shoppers end up needing to share the same information repeatedly and are continually offered products and services that aren’t relevant. This lack of personalisation leads to frustrated customers and lost revenue opportunities.
A modern strategy for the modern customer
Retailers need a modern integration strategy that enables them to unlock their data and deliver personalised experiences across channels. The first step is ensuring applications and data can be connected with greater agility. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a great way to achieve this, providing reusable and flexible connections between applications and data sources.
With API-led connectivity, retailers can take a composable approach – letting them draw together disparate sources of customer data without needing to replicate it. This enables retailers to drive real-time data analytics capabilities, to provide instant and actionable insights into what customers need and want. By building composable building blocks, retailers can also quickly react to triggers in the changing market, keeping up with competitors to provide timely personalised experiences.
Improving integration in this way translates to more satisfied customers, better business outcomes, and increased revenue. In fact, just under half (47%) of organisations said that integrating user experiences had improved return-on-investment.
Ultimately, a personalised experience can be the difference between a customer placing an order or abandoning their shopping cart in search of a better offer. If a customer is hesitating over a purchase, having actionable data about that journey allows the retailer to instantly share a personalised discount, autofill their billing information to speed the process up, or send a unique chatbot message to alleviate potential concerns and encourage them to go ahead with the purchase.
Putting personalisation into practise
UK-based Revolution Beauty previously struggled to provide personalised experiences and wanted to overcome that by creating a unified view of customer data. It also wanted to enable customer service representatives to resolve inquiries faster, as well as to drive new features and capabilities, including an interactive loyalty programme, at speed.
By adopting an API-led approach to integration, Revolution Beauty saw a four-fold increase in web traffic, as well as a 15% reduction in shopping cart abandonment. The business was also able to create a reusable Contact Centre API, allowing it to unlock and integrate siloed customer data. With a single view of each customer, Revolution is now able to provide personalised and seamless digital experiences. When a shopper reaches out for help, a global contact representative can open the customer’s ticket and instantly see all the relevant data they need to respond to the inquiry. As a result, representatives are resolving almost two-thirds (60%) more customer queries than before, driving greater customer satisfaction and loyalty.
It’s all to play for
As retailers are increasingly striving to deliver new digital experiences, the power of choice lies in the hands of their customers. To keep up with the competition, retailers must establish a modern customer experience strategy that puts personalisation at its heart, by becoming a composable enterprise. If they can achieve this successfully, retailers stand to win greater customer loyalty and drive increased revenue long into the future.
Emely Patra, regional vice president, EMEA at MuleSoft