​Customer loyalty is dead: Personalisation in retail is King

Enhance the shopping experience with VR and AR
Photo: Hamza Butt (Flickr)

Photo: Hamza Butt (Flickr)

It’s no secret that consumers today are exposed to more marketing messages than ever before, many of which go unnoticed. To break through the rabble, marketers need a way to keep their customers engaged.

This year and beyond will bring several innovative trends to the forefront, but underlying it all is the demand from consumers for relevant, personalised communications. In fact, personalisation is no longer a recommendation – it’s a necessity.

So, what can you do to put personalisation – and customers – at the heart of your marketing?

Engage customers early in the purchase journey

Following the success of basket recovery, brands are now looking for other personal communication strategies to help them stand out in the competitive retail landscape. The challenge, however, is understanding customers quickly enough to deliver relevant, insightful content at just the right time.

Marketers are now beginning to move upstream in the shopping lifecycle, creating personalised campaigns that react to browsing behaviour with triggered messages well before an item has been added to a basket. New technology offerings make basket recovery programs more cost-effective, allowing marketers to develop a more complete re-engagement strategy for consumers.

Consumers abandon shopping sessions for many reasons, from getting distracted to starting a new session on another device to taking time to complete an online price comparison. Smart marketers will take advantage of this user activity and leverage the valuable browse data to re-engage the individual with a personalised offer encouraging them to return and complete the purchase.

Enhance the shopping experience with VR and AR

Past attempts to integrate virtual reality (VR) into the shopping experience have been met with mixed results; however, with the rise of augmented reality (AR) apps, particularly in stores, consumers are now reacting favourably to mixed reality shopping.

It won’t be long before we see both technologies come alive, generating valuable ROI for retailers that understand how to use VR and AR to create more personalised and immersive experiences. To determine if this is right for you, look at how the technologies could drive customer engagement with your products, whether online or in the store.

The possibilities for VR and AR are as varied as the stores themselves. Some early adopters allow customers to virtually try on products in several colours and sizes, others display matching accessories and even give the option to order from another store right from the dressing room.

The key to effective mixed reality is to bridge the gap between online and in-store by providing all of the necessary information for both shopping experiences. Offer the in-store customer as many product details as you would online, but also supply valuable data, such as customer feedback on fit and finish for online shoppers. Such comprehensive solutions make a retailer stand out.

Offer a fuss-free checkout experience

As with mixed reality, convenience is critical for a positive customer experience. Consumers want instant gratification, so brands should constantly be looking for ways to provide a seamless and obstacle-free shopping experience.

For example, by enabling payment completion via a fingerprint, Apple Pay removes several steps to online buying. Not only does this make the checkout process more convenient for the customer, it limits the opportunity for hesitation and basket abandonment.

Combining these new payment technologies with a wider variety of fulfillment options (i.e., click and collect, instant delivery, etc.) allows for a personalised shopping experience to suit each consumer’s needs. Finding ways to build on this beyond the first purchase – such as recalling previously selected delivery options – will strengthen both your personalisation capabilities and your customer relationships.

Ultimately, putting the customer first and harnessing the data you collect will lead to a better user experience and a bigger bottom line. Consumer expectations will only continue evolving, and marketers that are better prepared will gain an edge.

Written by Shannon Ingrey, General Manager of Bronto Software