Personalization is at the top of every retailer’s list of goals. Win in personalization, and you win loyal customers who spend more. As technology improves, it will become possible to go even deeper and provide customers with highly specific service. In this blog we will explore the top experiences in personalization that are currently available, and what the future of personalization in retail looks like.
What’s Out There Today
There are a number of brands killing the personalization game. Sephora is at the top of every list, along with Nordstrom and Nike. Here are some of the ways they are personalizing their customer experience:
Integration: Sephora boasts an integrated system that moves the customer through mobile, web, in-store and email experiences seamlessly. Their mobile app features cutting-edge technology, including a virtual try-on experience. The app is linked to in-store beacons that remind customers about items left in their cart, suggests relevant special offers such as makeovers or classes, and helps guide them through the store. Augmented reality integration leverages celebrity icons like Kat Von D, using content to bring consumers back to Sephora’s website. Everything in Sephora’s customer journey is connected, making for a rich experience.
More Ways To Shop: Nike has diversified its customer journey path options, giving consumers more options than ever before. Nike’s brilliant new flagship store in New York offers an experience that can keep you occupied for hours – but also offers a “speed shop” for those who just want get their shoes and go. The shop has a separate entrance where customers find a locker with pre-selected items waiting to be tried on. They can make their purchases through the app, ensuring the Speed Shop lives up to its name.
Curation of Recommendations: Currently, personalization in retail primarily focuses on making curated recommendations to customers. Nordstrom uses a quiz that helps the company tailor what that individual sees on the website or the app. As the customer clicks on items, puts them in their cart and makes purchases, the brand is able to curate even more specifically.
As the Internet of Things (IoT), better data collection, and blockchain technologies begin to make personalization easier for brands, here are some things we expect to see emerge:
- More customized, bespoke type offerings across many categories at a lower cost.
- Quicker responses to trends or regional events – for example, making sure Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s red lipstick is well-stocked before she makes a key appearance.
- Helping sales staff do a better job by providing detailed customer history, prompts for suggestions, accurate advice, and finding the right product quicker.
- Virtual assistants will be able to customize major life events like vacations.
- Privacy issues will come into play, forcing brands that are not already rewarding customers for sharing their data to up their game.
- As the data we collect provides greater context (Where were we when we made that purchase? What was the weather like? How were we feeling?) brands will be better equipped to offer fewer prompts, but have them be more successful.
- Irrelevant content will become a thing of the past as brands become more adept at determining what customers want.
What To Do Now?
This is the question we are asked most often when it comes to starting on the journey to better personalization in retail environments. Not every brand has the money to become Sephora overnight. But there are some simple things brands can do right now to get on the path:
- Clean Up Data: Overhauling a technology stack to simplify and ensure that systems are working together properly is critical if brands are to make use of consumer data. Additionally, brands must be smart about how consumer data is collected. A study by Deloitte highlights the dangers of sloppy data collection. Brands need to reward consumers for sharing their information and ensure systems are talking to each other accurately.
- Think Human: Not all personalization will be based on technology. In fact, as technology rises, human connection will have greater value. This means getting the right staff into your stores and creating unique, human experiences. For example, Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store doubles as an event space dedicated to promoting women in business. Personal touches such as hand-written notes, “staff picks,” and consultation-type service will help brands leverage human connections.
- Dedicate Resources to Personalization: Sephora has been successful in mounting a highly sophisticated customer experience because they dedicated a team to the customer journey. Any brand wanting to create a highly personalized experience will need an internal champion leading the way, and either an internal team or partnership with an agency that is skilled in customer journey development.
Personalized experiences are becoming expected. Brands need to get ready and think ahead to ensure customers are getting exactly what they want, how they want it.