The power of personalisation in improving in-store engagement

Do you remember Coca Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign a few years ago? It featured personalised labels, so you could buy a bottle which – literally – had your name on it.  It was a massive success – even helping boost sales in the US for the first time in over a decade.

Heinz went down a similar route with its personalised ketchup labels service and its Get Well Soon campaign, enabling participants to send specially adapted soup cans to named recipients.

Although these were early and relatively unsophisticated examples of personalisation, they were highly rewarding for both brands. Now, true personalisation is mooted by many as the next big thing in retail.

Personalised shopping

According to a recent report from Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognises them by name, recommends options based on past purchases or knows their preferences.

brick and mortar stores simply can’t get as close to their customers as e-retailers now can

Ironically, before the days of supermarkets and megastores - and long before the internet - shopping was almost always a personalised experience.

But now, online retailers are better able to offer personalised products and offers using data analytics and artificial intelligence. Brick and mortar stores simply can’t get as close to their customers as e-retailers now can.

Yet the idea of personalisation remains key to future, sustainable success. Brand loyalty is largely an emotional matter. If a customer feels a retail brand understands their needs and lifestyle, they will remain loyal. It’s also a practical issue.

Time-poor customers prefer to buy from a retailer they can rely upon, where they know they will find something they like and will suit them as individuals.

Physical presence

Physical retailers that also have an online presence and can integrate their data from all sources have a head start. They have begun the journey by creating tailored loyalty schemes and are able to gain data-yielded insights to boost the knowledge they have about their customers. This leads to better engagement, retention and long-term loyalty. Research suggests that brands with strong omni-channel engagement have an average retention rate of 89% versus 33% for brands with weak engagement.

Again, it’s not that easy. With some loyalty schemes, it can take months before a retailer can actually build an accurate picture of the customer and be in a position to send tailored communications and offers. This lack of speed and agility can have a negative impact on overall engagement.

There are a number of ways that traditional in-store retailers can respond to the increased demand by consumers for a more personalised approach, through the use of coupons or recommendations, for example. In an ideal situation, retailers should be able to rely on the power of real-time (weather, local events, competitor offers) at the point of sale to not only deliver customised offers, but do it both quickly and effectively.

For example, is the perennial favourite, the coupon, being used to its full (personalised) potential? Coupons with offers based on purchase behaviour (you’ve bought this shirt and jacket, here’s an offer for some complementary accessories) could be provided.

Or related content based on items in the basket– ‘watch this YouTube video on how to pair the ingredients in your basket with wine’ could help enhance the customer experience. These are simplified examples. However, the opportunity to increase shopper engagement, encourage future purchases, and generate incremental sales is significant.

Targeting promotions

Physical stores do have one significant advantage over their online counterparts. The real live customer is right there, in-store and at the point of sale. With the right data, offers could be sent to mobile phones, using in-store digital signage or personalised offers based on basket contents.

All too often, retailers are missing an opportunity by handing out blanket promotions.

online and offline environments as part of an integrated campaign

Bringing together the online and offline environments as part of an integrated campaign can be highly successful. Using data from their online shopping, customers can be encouraged to visit the store with an email offering a relevant, personalised promotion. If a customer’s multi -channel buying history is available to stores at point of sale, then the retailer can see they are a loyal customer, even though it may be their first time in the store – and provide some kind of incentive such as a gift or discount.

When it comes down to it, personalisation comes back to improving the customer journey and improving their experience. It’s also a way for stores to differentiate their service, reward loyal customers and build a more sustainable business.

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