We are now a generation of digitally motivated and hyper connected consumers. According to Deloitte, this trend leads consumers to buy more and spend more, building a case for retailers to invest in digital interactions in the next five years. While digital is an important component of today’s retail environment, it’s personalization that influences how much consumers spend and how they interact with brands online and off.
In fact, 88% of marketers say real-time personalization is important to their yearly promotional plans. Forrester Research forecasts that 42% of in-store sales will be influenced by the Internet by 2020. Whether shoppers choose to purchase in-store, online or through a smartphone is irrelevant. Retailers must build a cohesive experience across all these touch points with personalization at the center of innovation.
The Hallmark Of A Personalization Strategy
As many as 76% of marketers define real-time marketing as “personalizing content in response to customer interactions.” A VentureBeat study takes this definition a step further, noting that a successful personalization strategy requires three critical components: Identity, content and delivery. In order to maximize personalization’s potential, brands must align their strategies with these three elements across various channels.
Consider how consumers shop today. An individual may browse on a tablet, purchase on a desktop but prefer to pick up the product at a physical location. Or, he may conduct product research on mobile while browsing in-store, only to complete the purchase online from home. Clearly, digital has a major influence on shopping behavior, and as emerging technologies like buy buttons, virtual reality and wearables become mainstream, shopping behavior will continue to shift over the next 10 years with an emphasis on digital interactions.
Given this, successful brands must create meaningful interactions with customers on multiple fronts. With over 3.65 billion unique global mobile users in 2015 alone, brands certainly can’t neglect mobile, but they also can’t neglect other channels such as brick-and-mortar stores, loyalty programs or e-Commerce channels. Personalization ties it all together using data, predictive analytics and deep customer profiling to identify customer segments, deliver relevant content and generate more engaging customer experiences.
The Joe’s Jeans Experience
Fashion retailer Joe’s Jeans is an excellent example of how brands can integrate personalization into their marketing strategies well. The popular retailer offers personalization across their site, as well as an interactive shopping guide called Style Finder on the web site, engaging visitors with the personal touch often seen in brick-and-mortar.
Powered by personalization, Joe’s Jeans builds a customer profile while engaging the shopper with interactive questions to reveal more about his or her personal tastes and styles. As a result, Joe’s Jeans delivers personalized results of the ideal style and recommended products based on attribute modelling and explicit answers. By emphasizing personalization innovation, the retailer has seen a jump in average order value and conversion rate, giving the company a competitive edge.
Making Personalization The Norm
The personalization promise isn’t exclusive to online retail. Brands like GameStop have captured consumers’ attention with multi-channel personalization strategies that bridge online and in-store. For instance, GameStop captures data through customer interactions via its e-Commerce and loyalty programs, and then combines it with predictive analytics and personalization to boost game sales online and in-store. In fact, the company experienced an immediate 14% jump in total online web revenue and an additional 14% in mobile revenue once it incorporated personalization into its strategy.
GameStop’s success demonstrates how personalization can influence digital interactions, engage shoppers and increase sales. So how can brands integrate personalization and maximize performance via digital?
It starts with a phased approach. Brands can optimize the performance of personalization solutions by integrating personalization across site pages in a way that moves the shopper through the purchase journey, as Joe’s Jeans did. As shoppers finalize their purchases online, they will see personalized product recommendations, recently viewed merchandise or complementary items on the shopping cart page to help boost sales.
From there, brands can integrate cross-session and contextual data that includes geography and weather to deliver targeted content and imagery relevant to the shopper. In this phase, marketers can also integrate that data into dynamic email campaigns, to recapture sales from browse and shopping cart abandonment with relevant recommendations and special offers to help shoppers discover products that align with their personal tastes and needs.
Retailers can also integrate personalization into a predictive search application on their e-Commerce sites. For instance, a consumer shopping for dog food online will see personalized product recommendations as he types in 'dog food' that are aligned to preferences and context, like dog food brands that are best sellers or have been previously purchased, as well as related items such as a dog bowl. This approach targets the shopper with relevant merchandise while increasing average order value. An effective personalization strategy can work across various touchpoints, which is why it’s a powerful tool for retailers.
Looking Into The Retail Crystal Ball
The future looks bright for retailers that emphasize digital in 2016. We’re likely to see mobile play a more integral role in the retail sector, allowing customers to not only browse and purchase from their mobile devices, but receive personalized offers and product information as brands roll out beacon technology in-store. Once again, personalization solutions will tie the in-store and mobile experiences together, allowing brands to gain deeper insights into consumer preferences and shopping habits regardless of channel.
Inventory management and loyalty programs are also key areas due for a digital makeover in the next few years. Retailers will implement sophisticated displays both online and in-store that enable customers to access customizable details related to the products they’re searching for.
As for loyalty programs, retailers are already finding ways to infuse personalization into them. Retailers can cater to digitally savvy shoppers through mobile apps designed for loyal members or create a mobile-friendly way to complete purchases.
Personalization tactics live on as marketers and retailers alike push the envelope on promotion. Without the implementation of personalization retailers risk the possibility of losing customers due to stale marketing strategies. Creating a customized customer experience provides more value to the brand by drawing in prospective customers, reaching targeted customers and increasing overall revenue.
Meyar Sheik co-founded Certona in 2004 and serves as the Chief Executive Officer. Under his guidance, the company has grown into the top omnichannel personalization provider for today’s largest brands and retailers around the world. For the past eleven years, Sheik has been focusing on applying Certona’s innovative consumer profiling, behavioral targeting and real-time personalization to generate higher conversions and more revenues on popular e-Commerce sites. He is a frequent industry speaker on cross-channel personalization trends and solutions.