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INTERVIEW Robin Phillips of Boots on how it is giving its customers what they really want

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Robin Phillips, director of omnichannel and development at Boots UK, spoke to Emma Herrod about what its customers really want. In this cover interview for the latest issue of InternetRetailing Magazine, he says it’s time to move on from measuring how shoppers have bought to predicting how they will want to buy in the future. Under the spotlight are new services now offered as part of the health and beauty company’s omnichannel shoppers from the Beautiful You personalised skincare, to the Health Coach, which offers medical advice and recommendations, and Sales Assist, which enables store staff to give in-depth product information.

Large numbers of UK shoppers have used their Boots Advantage card in the past six months, collecting loyalty points in exchange for sharing their personal details and how they shop. That’s an awful lot of data and insight that the company can use in its health and beauty business. But aren’t the days gone of mailing out (electronically or otherwise) promotions, money-off coupons and incentives to purchase a certain product in exchange for extra points? Hasn’t digital moved on further?

Robin Phillips, director of omnichannel and development at Boots, believes so. The time has come to move from targeted CRM to a “rifle shot” with advice, content and promotions getting increasingly granular. He believes that retailers also need to try and predict how to serve each shopper next. Those steps, of course, have to work seamlessly across devices and touchpoints, whether online or in store.

The customer journey is changing and brands need to change along with customers’ digital and social behaviour. “We need to track, through analytics, which content shoppers consume and their every event through to purchase, what else they did around their mission and consider how to bring them around to purchase again,” he explains. All this needs to be a slick experience regardless of digital or store touchpoints and easy for store colleagues, too.

Therefore, the amount of content which Boots creates is increasing and will be used along with product information to give customers an experience that’s contextualised and relevant to the device they are using. “We know where you are and what you last did, and we should present you with what you need next,” he says. Without it, he thinks shoppers will go elsewhere.

Technology is the enabler for the smooth experience all the way through, tracking and building data on customers so they don’t get frustrated. It’s also about being device agnostic so retailers have to think all the way through the journey how they deliver the best experience – and make it relevant at each stage – and through each stage of a customer’s life, he explains.

Click to read the full interview in the latest issue of InternetRetailing Magazine.

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