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GUEST COMMENT Why personalisation holds the key to customer retention

Today, more than ever before, retailers have to compete for the attention of their customers and encourage them to complete their purchases. For example, according to new Black Friday activity analysis from Monetate, 10% more shoppers are abandoning their baskets year-on-year in the UK.

In an industry constantly striving for innovation, this new era of ecommerce is being driven by emerging technologies. Now Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming this process, presenting new opportunities for brands to stand out and get ahead of the competition.

According to findings from Microsoft, UK retailers are a step behind other industries when it comes to integrating AI. The study found that over half of UK retailers are still not using AI, while the uptake within financial services and manufacturing has proven much greater. With consumer attention harder to capture than ever before, those who harness the opportunities of technology and provide a tailored customer experience will reap the rewards. Marketers should be thinking about how they can leverage AI to personalise their customers’ experiences and instil brand loyalty. So, what does this mean in practice?

Retailers need to understand the benefits

With consumers demanding a more personalised online retail experience, innovation needs to be at the top of retailers’ priority lists if they want to meet these growing needs and stay abreast of technological developments. More than ever before, the pressure is on for businesses to provide a seamless experience across all touchpoints.

However, to fully harness the opportunities of AI, marketers need to understand the customer journey better. By doing this, they’ll be able to derive the value of this data and impact their business’ bottom line.

Take Black Friday, for example. Ahead of the highly anticipated annual discount day, shoppers are browsing and gathering information to inform a potential purchase. Retailers can then piece together these insights to create a picture of consumers’ online habits. Our 2018 Black Friday data found that average page views soared by more than a quarter YoY (25.5%), providing masses of rich insights for retailers to decode.

While instilling loyalty and incentivising consumers to complete a purchase remains a difficult task, the opportunity for businesses is greater than ever. If brands and retailers effectively adopt AI to build a personalisation strategy, they’re likely to see a big difference.

Using AI to collect insights and deliver value in real time

Artificial Intelligence can simplify the process for retailers. By collecting valuable insight into consumers’ online shopping behaviours, the technology can utilise this intelligence to tailor future experiences, reflecting individual preferences and requirements. Put simply, AI provides the layer of context, enabling brands to tailor their approach each shopper, informed by this previous information.

In fact, most brands already have access to a lot of the tools they need, in order to gain a greater understanding of their customers. Retailers attract thousands of visitors to their websites each week. In doing this, they are building a bank of rich and insightful data which they can be harnessing to serve their customers better. For example, if a retailer can see that somebody is looking at a specific product repeatedly on a mobile device, there is an opportunity to make relevant recommendations based on this existing knowledge.

Traditionally, retailers would use a rules-based decision model, allowing them to produce tests across various segments. This, however, requires a level of human management in order to review the results. A common blocker to personalising experiences is often that retailers feel overwhelmed by the volume of data being collected.

When AI is involved in the process, the technology is largely self-sufficient and can collate insights into consumers’ individual online behaviours. The tool is then able to develop an online experience in real-time to ensure each experience is unique and relevant to the shopper themselves.

The data is there; retailers need to understand how to interpret it effectively to improve the personalised experiences offered to customers.

The difference between retaining a customer and losing them altogether

A well-executed personalisation strategy is a foundation for building loyalty. In fact, 44% of consumers say that they are likely to become repeat buyers following a personalised shopping experience with a retailer.

Personalisation technology can give marketers and retailers the tools to provide relevant product recommendations, driving sales and enhancing the experience. However, one bad experience can be the difference between gaining a customer and losing them to a competitor. 69% of consumers want an individualised customer experience, yet only 40% of brands have the capabilities to offer one.

Businesses need to be thinking about how they can address this gap to ensure they are well equipped to meet growing consumer expectations. Seasonal discount days like Black Friday drive customers to your website temporarily, however, a long-term strategy will keep them coming back all year round.

Author: Simon Farthing, director of global strategy and insights of Monetate

Picture credit: Fotolia

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