Personalization in Retail, Part One

| By: David Yates

Where We Are

 
Shoppers, especially younger ones, increasingly do not differentiate between online and offline channels. Rather, they think only about the fact that they’re engaging with a brand. Whether that engagement is in the digital realm, the physical realm, or more and more often, some combination, is less important to them. These shoppers want and expect a brand to know who they are as they move from online to offline and back.

As a result, retailers with a mix of online and offline sales channels who successfully unify their customer data, inventory and sales systems are best positioned to serve and to benefit from rapidly evolving shopper needs and expectations. Unified systems enable unified online and offline experiences. Each can inform the other, thereby dramatically increasing opportunities for personalized shopping, impactful content delivery and, perhaps most importantly, elevated customer service.

 

The Promise of Digital in Retail

 
With unified systems as a foundation, the retail shopping experience in particular can evolve in very significant ways. It can be greatly enhanced by utilizing many of the same tools that are typically used online, especially those for optimization and personalization.

In the retail store, the shopper-facing digital ecosystem to support this unified experience ideally consists of 3 main interface components:

  • The shopper’s own device
  • Interactive displays in the store (whether tablet or large screen display)
  • Store Associate equipped with an assisted selling tool or clienteling app

In the background, the unified systems (customer data, inventory, sales) enable those customer-facing systems above to do at least some, and sometimes all, of the following:

  • Know the shopping history and preferences of an individual shopper
  • Know the shopping history and preferences of the local community
  • Provide full visibility into store inventory and product availability to help draw in local customers who otherwise might only shop online
  • Drive interaction with a Store Associate equipped with the tools to provide expert shopping guidance and customer service.

 

Retail and 1:1 Marketing 

 
Driving interaction with a store associate is extremely important. In the retail environment, the biggest and most important differentiator compared to other channels is the human element. Particularly in the industries that we focus on at Corra – fashion, beauty and lifestyle – there is a shift toward a concierge model in retail that is geared toward providing a high level of customer service in-store. When a brand interacts with a shopper, unified customer data coupled with a personalization engine can help that brand to do a really good job predicting what a customer might want or need right now, but it never knows for sure.

However, a Store Associate routinely poses an ordinary but powerful question – “How can I help you?” Ultimately, that human interaction provides the greatest and most impactful opportunity to not only achieve 1:1 marketing, but to develop strong brand affinity for a new customer or to deepen the brand relationship with an existing customer.
 

Getting Started

 
Getting all of these pieces in place is challenging. Beyond the difficulties of unifying various systems, potentially updating organizational structure and operations, as well as designing and building the customer-facing platforms, there is the task of gathering multi-channel data and setting up the analytics to make sense of it all so that you can leverage its power. Fortunately, there are some ways even smaller retailers can get going on this.

There are ways to start down the path to gathering data for both in-store and online shopping behaviors, tying them together and then pairing that data with with a personalization engine. With a few key pieces, brands can enable customers to get a highly relevant and powerful digital experience on all digital channels and, critically, empower Store Associates so that they are able to do high-level clienteling and customer service in those all-important human interactions.

To learn about these methods, stay tuned for Part 2: Get Up and Running with Personalization in Retail.

Want to learn more about personalization today? Email hello@corra.com to contact our team.