Few things are as personal to a shopper as their health. Everyone has their own health needs and goals, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any fitness regime. GNC has embraced the need for hyper-personalization in its products and services by designing its entire CX strategy around ensuring shoppers can access what they need at that particular time, with as little fuss as possible. The goal is to ensure the entire shopper journey — from the customer’s first glimpse of the landing page through conversations with the brand’s customer service team — resonates with each individual shopper.
GNC’s executives realize how vital this is to their current and future business. The supplement industry is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 8.9% from 2022 to 2030, which makes now an important time to bring in new customers and secure longtime loyalists.
“Our enterprise tech stack is consumer centric,” said Scott Saeger, CIO of GNC in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Everything that we do is to reduce friction and empower our customers to do what they need to do to live well. I keep kind of falling back on the tagline ‘Live Well’ because it’s really at the bullseye of everything that we do in our business as well as our technology. We know that in the health and wellness category, offering customized products to deliver holistic health solutions is paramount.”
Healthcare Personalization is a Moving Target
For GNC, providing a truly personalized experience for all of its shoppers means going beyond basic individual data points like a customer’s past purchases. Even when dealing with a new customer, one who doesn’t have a “track record” of purchases, GNC shapes its offerings based on other factors. For example, the time of year plays an important role in what products are played up on the homepage to ensure even these unknown shoppers aren’t served irrelevant content.
“When a customer comes to gnc.com, do they feel that GNC understands who they are as a consumer and there’s not this just barrage of ads and recommendations that mean nothing to them?” Saeger asked. “In the beginning of the year, a lot of people want to trim down and lose the Thanksgiving and Christmas weight, so if all I’m doing is throwing protein whey at you, that’s really not the experience you want. Being hyper-personalized is about making the right recommendations at the right time.”
This also means the same shopper will be on the lookout for different products when they come back to GNC weeks or months down the line. A grocer may be able to offer a regular customer the same pasta brand each week, but GNC seeks to understand its shoppers’ overall goals so that it can keep up with their long-term health and wellness journey.
“Some of the older technology will look at past purchases as a way to make recommendations,” said Saeger. “Well, as we all know, you can’t be on a diet your entire life. What you don’t want is us to say, ‘Oh, you bought Slimvance or you bought Lean Shakes so I’m just going to keep pushing them down your throat.’ There’s a regimen and we have to understand those ebbs and flows so we can ensure that we’re delivering the right recommendation and personalization at the right time.”
GNC Meets Customers Where they Want to Be
This strategy also applies to how GNC communicates with its customers. The ultimate goal is to eliminate any friction between a customer and their next purchase, so GNC aims to reach customers with its messaging wherever is most convenient for them.
One way GNC is busting friction is by empowering its customer service agents through a partnership with Ujet. The solution provider has helped the retailer greatly speed up contact center agents’ ability to bring up relevant information about customers, to help ensure that all kinds of queries are handled as quickly and painlessly as possible through its cloud solutions.
“You have systems of record within a retailer that keep information about their repeat buyers, such as if they have a frequent account number with the GNC,” said Vasili Triant, COO of Ujet. “We’ve now taken that system of record and put it on steroids because we fully integrate it in real time with their applications. Now when you contact them instead of, ‘Hold on, let me get to that screen’ or ‘Hold on, let me get to that system,’ it’s all real time.”
The information at agents’ fingertips can go beyond basic order updates, according to Triant. GNC can use the technology to quickly provide relevant advice, such as the best recovery drink post-workout, to ensure every customer has a great experience no matter what their query is. The solution provider also is working with GNC to enable this level of connectivity on queries made through its mobile app.
GNC also is continuing to invest in AI and machine learning technologies that will help it stay one step ahead of its competition through communication options like chatbots. While conversations can be handed off to a live agent at a moment’s notice to handle suitably complex queries, the retailer’s investment in ChatGPT technology will offer shoppers looking for automated support an equally great experience.
“Machine learning and AI put together, I think, is going to be the single largest advantage that GNC will have in the marketplace,” said Saeger. “We’re science-based and science-backed. Other companies that try to follow us that don’t have the product development teams or the science teams that we have are going to fail.”