Personalization Best Practices For 2013 And Beyond

Following is Part 3 of the Retail TouchPoints series focused on Personalization Strategies That Work. In this final section, industry analysts and experts share how retailers can build successful, long-term personalization strategies. Click here to access a PDF version of the full report.

Due to the sheer variety and volume of resources available across digital and physical channels, consumers today have real-time access to a plethora of product choices and delivery options. As a result, many shoppers are abandoning brand loyalty, and are turning to merchants that offer the most relevant and personalized experiences, according to research from Harris Interactive.

The online survey of 2,191 U.S. adults, conducted by Harris Interactive, indicated that 56% of consumers would likely switch brands if a company offered more options and channels to connect with them. Furthermore, 25% said they do not feel loyalty toward any brand.


This diminishing brand loyalty is brought to life in analysis of today’s shopping journeys: consumers often abandon a cart — especially online — due to poor site navigation and subpar experiences, according to research from the e-tailing group and MyBuys. As many as 33% of respondents said they left a web site because they found it difficult to browse for products. Once consumers exited a retailer’s e-Commerce site, they typically visited Amazon (42%) and Google (60%) to research the same purchases.

The Emergence Of Omnichannel Personalization

To combat consumers’ high expectations and short attention spans, retailers must ensure they provide the best possible experience by delivering seamless and consistent messaging, pricing, offers and content across all channels. In addition, retailers should work to make brand interactions personalized and tailored to the unique wants and needs of every one of these demanding customers.

“Without an integrated, omnichannel operation, personalization remains a siloed, channel-specific experience,” said Deena Amato-McCoy, Research Analyst for the retail branch of Aberdeen Group. “Since shoppers expect to have the same experience online as they do on their mobile devices or in stores, providing separate and departmentalized experiences is the quickest way to kill loyalty.”

Retailers today “have the opportunity to develop a unified context of the shopper and deliver an integrated experience that spans across channels,” confirmed Girish A.R., Associate VP and Head of Products and Platforms for Retail, CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences at Infosys. “Enterprises need to pursue customers’ footprints across channels, and leverage data science to extract meaningful and actionable insights from that.”

To reach that goal, retailers must strive to identify customer preferences and trends by honing in on more detailed data points, such as behavior, rather than standard demographics, according to Nikki Baird, Managing Partner at RSR Research.

“Behavior is a data point in which you can determine what you want to influence and change,” Baird said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Demographics are merely the proxy that you use to figure out how to reach those customers in order to change their behavior. Retailers should only use demographics in the absence of being able to influence a customer in the moment.”

The facilitation of personalization relies on a retailer’s ability to tap Big Data to predict the kinds of cross-channel experiences consumers will respond to most favorably. For example, by listening and understanding cues such as items browsed and purchased, links being clicked and other behaviors, retailers can ensure better marketing, noted David Hibbs, Senior Strategic Consultant at Responsys.

“Listening to these cues can help you understand your customers at a much deeper level,” Hibbs said. “This is where having a big focus on customer analytics and insights can help drive better performance from your program, as well as help identify new opportunities for your brand.”

How To Develop A Long-Term Strategy

Retailers are striving to build long-term personalization strategies that will become central to all business decisions. As personalization tools and tactics continue to evolve, retailers are committed to the goal of delivering on the promise of a customer-centric marketing approach.

For personalization to be the foundation of a retail business, merchants must move beyond campaign-based mindsets and “think in terms of a customer’s total lifespan with their brands,” said Stephane Latreille, VP of Retail and CPG at Aimia. This way of thinking, he explained, will “guide data collection strategies: what you collect, why you are collecting it, and what you are going to do with it.”

After defining core audiences via thorough data collection, analysis and segmentation, retailers can determine customers’ overall lifetime value, which will help create a blueprint of offers and communications that should be delivered, Latreille explained. Throughout this process, retailers should “address shoppers’ needs and desires by asking: What are their pain points? What do they find frustrating and what would make their lives easier?”

However, personalization efforts can only thrive if retailers participate in continuous testing, analysis and learning, according to Hibbs. “Let the subsequent data and insights guide you in developing the most effective strategies. Leading with a customer-centric focus will help you deliver a successful personalized experience.”

Click here to access a PDF version of this three-part feature: Personalization Strategies That Work.

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