Personalization is no longer just about marketing to demographic groups, customer segments or even personas.
Rather, the concept has evolved into a critical way for retailers to differentiate their brand to compete against companies like Amazon, according to “BRP Special Report: Personalizing the Customer Experience,” a study from Boston Retail Partners.
“Consumers’ constant ability to shop and easily research products and prices has made it imperative for retailers — especially those with brick and mortar locations — to find creative ways to entice customers into the store,” said Jeff Neville, VP, Boston Retail Partners. “The best and most powerful way to do this is through personalization.”
That said, retailers need to infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations, compete more effectively and offer a more memorable shopping experience. This experience allows the customer can see, feel and interact with products, plus it extends opportunities for retailers to enhance customer loyalty through interaction with sales associates, according to the report.
Retailers are definitely on board, as 40% of surveyed retailers said that personalization is a top digital priority.
The first step to engage with customers on a personal level is to find a way to identify shoppers as they enter the store — this can be via smartphone, beacon or another technology. Half (50%) of the retailers surveyed plan to utilize customer-identifying technology in the store within two years.
Too often however, the customer is not identified until the point of checkout. This is too late to empower the associate to personalize the shopping experience.
Once retailers identify customers, the next step is to communicate relevant messages. The most prevalent customer personalization capability involves offering personalized rewards based on customer loyalty — a strategy that 34% of respondents said they’ve already implemented.
However, it is time to step up these personalization initiatives. Using customer insights data, even environmental conditions, such as time, weather, and traffic volume, brands can create contextual messages relevant to the individual customer.
Currently, 22% of retailers already use some type of real-time events selling triggered by environmental factors. Unfortunately, most of these processes are not working well and need improvement, the study said.
The greatest opportunities involve suggested selling to the customer. Over the next 12 months, retailers are making significant plans for these robust capabilities, such as suggested selling based on previous purchases (50%), suggested selling based on the customer’s closet (32%) and suggested selling based on the customer’s online browsing history (37%). All of these opportunities leverage knowledge of a customer’s preferences, purchases and interests to recommend products or services.
Suggestive and guided selling will only be supported by a real-time retail environment. Once customer data and information is collected across channels, it can be analyzed and utilized to personalize the shopper’s individual experience, thereby promoting sales and customer loyalty, the study revealed.