No matter how big a retailer grows, the way consumers think and behave should always shape the way they adapt their communications, stores and customer journeys. Consumers are overwhelmed with choice; buying decisions are becoming harder to make and shopping experiences are becoming ever-more sophisticated both in-store and online. Introducing marketing personalisation into the mix is something that was once considered complex and costly, but today personalisation isn’t just a benefit to consumers – it’s an expectation.
Furthermore, 49% say they have purchased a product that they did not plan to buy after receiving a personalised recommendation from a brand.
Think of each personalisation as an interaction, each one slowly building a relationship with the consumer. As more is learnt about the individual, their experience becomes heightened both online and offline. The brand becomes familiar, a trusted ‘face’ amongst the noise that always appears to have their best interests.
Soon familiarity turns into purchases, and as the post-purchase communication continues, this breeds loyalty. But how far exactly does personalisation need to go in order to achieve this? Where is the line drawn between meeting customer expectations and perhaps a step too far?
Creating a custom retail experience…online
When data is used responsibly – and for the benefit of the consumer – retailers can create a seamless, enjoyable shopping experience. Whether it’s building brand, making recommendations, or ‘handholding’ the customer through their purchasing journey, small yet significant touches can work wonders to make the user feel special, understood and encouraged to buy a product.
Collating information about an individual such as age, location and shopping habits can help you shape their experience. Many of these experiences are now the norm, and those who aren’t implementing them online are missing out on some great opportunities.
Here are our top 5 tips for personalising your customers’ online experience:
Having a customer’s name present in your navigation not only makes them feel acknowledged, but assures them that their experience is going to be tailored to them.
Reduce abandoned purchases by giving your customers a second chance to see their desired products on other sites they visit.
Adding value through email
Send offers and products relevant to the individual, notify them when their favourite items are back in stock and send follow-up emails post-purchase to make sure they’re happy.
Amongst all the other data that can be collected about a user, one of the easiest to obtain is their location. Firstly, a user shouldn’t ever have to select which country they’re from – it’s simple enough to recognise and prevent them from having an additional step to reach the website. Secondly, being able to promote location-specific offers can be valuable. For example, if an area is affected by torrential weather, you might look to promote your wind-proof umbrellas on the homepage as opposed to sun cream.
Pick up where they left off
There’s nothing worse than making carefully curated selections, getting distracted and then coming back to an empty basket. Keeping products available to a user reduces the chances of them abandoning the purchase altogether.
Hyper-personalisation in retail
According to a Salesforce study, 51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they even make contact. This is where hyper-personalisation will likely take centre stage, and consequently take personalisation in retail to the next level.
Hyper-personalisation uses insights from user behaviours and artificial intelligence to interpret real-time and historical data about an individual. Ads, emails, website content and in-store experiences can all be hyper-personalised with relevant content based on individual browsing history, location, CRM data and more.
It’s worth mentioning that, even though hyper-personalisation in retail can and will be incredibly effective, it’s not something that can be implemented overnight. Your organisation will need to have the right skills to hand, an effective way of centralising and managing data flow, and have plans in place for ongoing maintenance of these intricate marketing efforts.
The level of thought, planning and management is extensive, and though the results will justify the expense for many, it has left lots of industry experts asking is retail really ready for hyper-personalisation AI at all?
Creating a custom retail experience…in–store
Despite the cries of the tabloids, many retailers are managing to entice customers to their physical stores and bringing different levels of personalisation along with them. These opportunities may be viewed as restrictive compared to the digital world, but there are many ways to keep people engaged in-store. In some ways, the physical environment provides a much more effective space to convert. The customer is right there in the flesh and the marketing materials are supported by real salespeople.
Here are our 5 tips for in-store personalisation marketing:
Stores aren’t one–size–fits–all
The more you understand your stores’ locations, the greater the opportunity to enrich the shopping experience. Too often, retailers try and fail to bulk send marketing promotion materials from their head office. Harnessing detailed data such as weather reports can ensure stores present relevant promotions. But when you have hundreds of stores in locations across the world, it’s a monumental task to stay on top of this.
What many big retailers are choosing to do is put the power back into the hands of individual stores with brand activation software, which provides pre-defined on-brand templates for digital signage, printed materials and POS, so that stores can react accordingly to topical and local events.
Regularly review display effectiveness
Encourage managers and employees to walk in the shoes of customers – give them scenarios they can re-enact to test whether signage and wayfinding are sufficient. Introduce customer surveys to see whether they noticed certain products or promotions as they navigated the store and incentivise them with offers or prize draws.
Additionally, you could assess product placement by A/B testing your displays. For example, if you keep your merchandising blueprints on record, by changing it over time you can monitor how many products were purchased based on each display over a certain period and analyse why you think this could be. These are just a few ways you can help to validate your store layouts and campaigns.
Entice customers with mobile offers
Technology makes it fairly straightforward to send personalised offers or information when a customer enters your store. If they have your brand’s app installed, are connected to the store’s WiFi or they are on your SMS geofencing list, you can instantly know when they are near or in the area. How much data you hold about the individual will dictate whether you can send them a generic offer or a more personalised recommendation.
Connect offline activity to online
There are lots of different ways to introduce multichannel marketing to your customers, and two effective ways of getting physical visitors into the funnel is by introducing email-based receipts and electronic loyalty/points cards. The virtual receipts enter customers into an ‘opt-in’ email marketing funnel, while a loyalty card allows you to learn about their buying habits to further tailor your promotions.
Bring online in-store
Utilise collective data about your online audiences to adapt in-store promotions. For example, if a specific trend is selling well online in Edinburgh, it could be worth exploring this further in-store.
Importance of personalisation in retail marketing
Either bringing personalisation into your existent marketing and customer journey or elevating what you already have will only serve to help you connect even further with your audience. The perception of a retailer can switch in an instant, from a negative encounter with a sales assistant through to a discount code being invalid, every element of a retail experience – online and in-store – will shape the way people feel about your brand and your products, and ultimately whether they go on to buy them.
Brick-and-mortar retailers need to do the best they can to ensure that they can be both proactive and reactive in their in-store marketing. As previously mentioned, personalisation in retail is no longer a point of differentiation, but an expectation. And as technology becomes more sophisticated, so will the consumer.
The key to success is insight, and having the tools in place to effectively act on this insight. Brand Activation Software makes it possible for businesses to create pre-defined templates that can be tailored by employees with specific messaging, imagery and more. These marketing materials include everything from website banners, digital in-store signage, email templates, social media assets – the list goes on. Tools such as this one make the seemingly impossible task of personalisation in retail not only achievable, but simple.