A personalised online shopping experience powered by simple data collection is rapidly becoming a must-have for retailers.
In the past year alone, there was a spike in customer expectations for personalisation across all shopping channels and it became critical for retailers to innovate in terms of customer experience in order to keep those shoppers engaged.
Recommended products and wish lists have become commonplace online, but can this model of personalisation transfer to bricks-and-mortar?
Clearly, the application of personalisation to the physical world has the potential to be powerful. In fact, a report by Econsultancy and Monetate last year found that 94% of companies agreed that personalisation is “critical to current and future success.”
Retailers already have huge databases of customer data that are used to offer shoppers digital deals and services, but the application of this approach offline has been complex.
Particularly problematic has been the ability to match an offline shopper to a digital profile.
That said, the combination of online data with the experiential richness offered in-store could lead to highly engaging marketing and shopping experiences. So, how can this be achieved?
The use of beacons to identify shoppers would be the starting point for in-store personalisation. With customer opt-in it would be possible to link a customer’s mobile ID to their online data profile, creating the vital bridge between the physical and digital worlds.
For instance, if a customer had been browsing online before their visit to a high street store, beacon technology could be used to send them personalised information or offers for similar products to be used during their time in-store.
In-store TV has already attempted a degree of personalisation, for example using facial recognition to identify age and gender.
Burberry’s flagship store on Regent Street features the world’s tallest retail screen, with other smaller screens located throughout the store displaying images of products on the catwalk, activated by RFID tags.
If this type of personalisation was based on online data it could become a powerful marketing channel. Of course, there would be significant privacy concerns if this was done clumsily, but it could become acceptable with appropriate transparency and open value exchange.
Digital price labels
Digital price labels are becoming standard in many stores and, with the appropriate technology, these could move from being basic information displays to additional marketing channels.
Using these changeable labels to highlight personalised offers to customers in real-time could help guide the in-store experience in a new way.
Electronic point of sale (EPOS)
A truly personalised point of sale could revolutionise customer service. Providing live customer information to staff allowing them to personalise interactions could enhance brand relationships and loyalty while creating upsell opportunities.
Identifying customer preferences, personalising discount offers, or even enabling assistants to address customers by first name, could add a new level of customisation and relevance to the shopping experience.
The Internet of Things
The much-hyped Internet of Things market could provide a massive opportunity for in-store personalisation and retailers are already pricking up their ears.
The Internet of Things could empower retailers to make decisions that improve customer loyalty while offering great in-store experiences.
For example, a shopping trolley that could display the contents of a shopper’s internet-connected fridge would enable customers to build better shopping lists on the move.
With much debate about data privacy at present, clearly customer buy-in will be essential for all of these approaches. The degree of personalisation implied treads perilously close to the boundary between personalised and creepy, something retailers need to keep closely in mind.
However, if the data exchange is transparent and the benefits clearly communicated, it may just be possible for retailers to create a new paradigm for in-store experience.