Today’s customers are no longer looking to build a relationship with a brand; they are choosing when and how to interact, turning traditional customer relationship management (CRM) and data analysis on its head.

This means retailers now need to be a lot smarter about how to engage customers. Today’s consumers have shorter attention spans and are faced with a mass of content jostling for their attention on the web. To counteract this, retailers have to offer a more personalised experience to achieve cut-through, as well as build and sustain long-term engagement.

CRM has traditionally been used to build a profile of a customer and in doing so, identify their likes and dislikes, past purchases and interests, to help tailor future interactions. In recent years, this process has become much more advanced than simply personalising the name at the top of an email. Technology is now allowing retailers to unlock their data insight to tailor the type of content that is delivered throughout every stage of the shopping experience.

One retailer placing personalisation at the heart of the business is Shop Direct. The retailer recently revamped its online offering to tailor the site to each customer. If a shopper buys a sofa, they will be offered a table that matches it on the next visit to the site. In this way, retailers are becoming increasingly responsible for playing the role of editor, curating relevant content to boost conversion rates and keep customers coming back for more. With consumers interacting seamlessly online, retail experiences need to mirror this behaviour. Personalising the online experience and product offering means that customers feel valued and listened to by the brand, ensuring they are likely to revisit in future.

In today’s market, the same personalised experience needs to carry through to the offline world as well. Customer interactions online need to be understood just as well when they enter the store, to create a seamless and tailored experience. Majestic Wines is a great example of this in action. The wine retailer is well-known for its service in store, where wine experts guide customers to the products that are most likely to be of interest. To match this personal experience online, the retailer now uses its expert product knowledge to automate recommendations on its website through the collective knowledge of its experts.

While retailers are getting to grips with the personalised offering that is now required online, it is continuing to become more complex. In an always-on world, retailers are required to personalise customer communications in real-time. Add to this the ability to incorporate contextual data such as the weather into the equation, then retailers can give customer communications an even greater sense of timeliness and relevancy to their current environment.

In the face of a more discerning customer, retailers need to ensure that when customers do choose to interact, they feel listened to and valued. Personalisation fulfils this purpose, allowing retailers to create more meaningful interactions each time the customer chooses to engage.


By Ian Stockley, MD of Indicia.

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