Personalising the Customer Experience both Online and In-Store

personalising the customer experience

Personalising the Customer Experience both Online and In-Store: Key Strategies of Successful Retailers.

The rise of The Right Now Economy ™ has created a consumer who wants instant accurate outcomes tailored to their persona. This requires computing huge volumes of data in real-time to facilitate swift accurate transactions. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of online shopping where data shapes the customer experience. E-commerce operators are using more and more data to improve the customer experience, but many of them aren’t collecting the right data in the right way – and that means they fall short of offering the kind of personalised shopping that consumers desire.

For example, many retailers collect demographic data on consumers, such as age and gender. But that doesn’t really reveal the kind of “fit” a consumer favours in clothes or whether they are a bargain shopper or like to make purchases on certain days of the week. Without collecting, understanding, and implementing data focused on an individual, an unsatisfactory customer experience often occurs and companies miss the opportunity to effectively market other products or experiences.

Today’s digitally-savvy consumers expect brands to understand them and come equipped with the mindset of: ‘Why should I buy from you?’. Consumers are willing to give brands access to more personal information in return for the retailer offering value in return. For example, personal clothing styler Stitch Fix asks customers to complete a 20-minute survey in order to deliver clothes that fit and suit a consumer’s style.

UK consumers are in line with other countries when it comes to data-driven personalisation. A recent study revealed that “In the value exchange economy, UK consumers are rewarding brands that make personalisation a priority with more than half saying they will trade personal and preference data to feel part of a brand’s community.”

By gaining the right data to create a true 360 buying persona of customers, companies are able to move past product recommendations to provide a highly personalised shopping experience. Still, collecting data from various customer touchpoints, analysing it, and using it in a meaningful way is a challenge.

Meeting the Challenge

Companies like online furniture retailer Wayfair have been able to meet that challenge. It uses data from the edge, real-time data, and contextual data to provide a much better picture of the consumer and personalise the shopping experience, which has led to 30 percent larger cart sizes. Wayfair also leverages its real-time data platform for customer scoring and segmentation, tracking events online, and “listening” to customer activity for marketing decisions and recommendation engines. The platform’s reliability, consistency, scalability, and faster response times have given Wayfair a keen insight into customers – something other brands may be missing. The result is that Wayfair turns on historical data that may not have been relevant to the last time the consumer visited the site but is relevant now, and it uses that to put a better recommendation before each of its customers.

Companies need to understand that a complete picture of the consumer relies on thousands and thousands of data points and hundreds of streams of data that are captured and held sometimes for a short time, and sometimes for much longer.

Top Tips for Driving a Better Digital Experience

With companies like Amazon resetting customer expectations around their digital experiences, we find ourselves firmly entrenched in the age of instant gratification – “The Right Now Economy”. This “customer-obsessed” strategy that is being adopted by more and more leading brands is putting competitive pressure on all businesses, no matter the industry. When customers experience any delay in availability, information, or the supply chain, they simply skip to the next provider.

So, what are the core elements needed to drive better data results?

1. Create rich customer profiles

It’s all about properly understanding the customer. It’s not about grouping customers into ‘personas’ – buying yoga pants doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is a ‘gym bunny’. It’s about whether the customer looks for complete outfits to purchase each time or wants to be served by a certain associate when in a store. Having a better grasp on this granularity of detail about the customer, the business is able to create a much more realistic picture of that consumer and deliver a whole other level of personalisation – whether it’s an email updating a customer when new styles are being offered, when a salesperson will be working or if a certain fit or brand of clothing favoured by the customer is on sale.

2. Collect better data

A thoroughbred racehorse won’t win The Grand National on hay alone. When it comes to your experience engine, what you put into it is what you get out of it. In order to ensure a high quality of insights and a ten to 30 percent lift, it requires you to feed your experience engine with good quality data.

3. Assess customer data in real-time

The cost of acquiring new customers is five times that of retaining existing ones. But, in order to retain a customer, it’s important to understand what they want right now. That involves listening in real-time and understanding the context of what they’ve done in the past to know what the customer’s intent is at that moment. For example, if they bought a coffee maker when they came into your store in March, it doesn’t mean that they will want to talk about coffee makers when they come in again in June, because what they may actually be looking for is a new toaster.

4. Align experiences

There are a plethora of channels through which consumers engage with a retailer, whether the customer is on a desktop computer, shopping via a mobile device, or visiting a brick-and-mortar store. For retailers, it’s vital that they listen, capture, measure, assess, and address intent across every one of these touchpoints to keep the data flowing consistently, feed the personalisation engine, and deliver a truly personalised and seamless customer experience.

The bottom line is that companies need to rely on collecting and using data that is relevant to the consumer – and that means investing in data collection efforts that can deliver results now and in the future as individual consumer demands grow and change.

By Matt Bushell, Sr. Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, Aerospike