Taking in the moments: How holiday shopping can help retailers reshape their personalization strategies
With the holiday shopping frenzy fast approaching, contributor Rohit Gupta discusses why brands need to hone their personalization efforts and focus on the moments that shape a consumer’s shopping experience.
But the bedlam of the holidays actually brings invaluable insights and increased opportunities for retailers to fine-tune their personalization strategies. Indeed, today’s consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to a highly personalized customer experience, with 56 percent admitting they prefer to shop with retailers (in-store or online) that recognize them by name, according to Accenture’s “Personalization Pulse Check” report.
With millions of shoppers ready to stampede into stores or browse through e-commerce sites over the coming weeks, now is certainly not the time to risk losing customers to a subpar experience.
To create a seamless, omnichannel customer journey — from customer acquisition to the moment of purchase, and beyond — retailers cannot just focus on the “persona” of the customer that they’ve built by analyzing trends, purchasing history and so on.
Instead, the smart retailer will zero in on the “moments” that matter most. What action or incident motivates a customer’s next purchase? Why do they decide to leave a shopping cart full? What interaction causes a customer to return to the same store time and time again?
Here are a few steps that brands can take to better capture and analyze the moments that shape a consumer’s shopping experience:
Acquire customers based on the actions driving their purchasing needs
Key moments occur throughout the entire customer journey, beginning with the actions that drive consumers’ purchasing needs. Social media is an excellent tool for capturing such instances.
For example, consumers may tweet about a vacation they just booked. This means they will need to purchase travel-sized toiletries, or perhaps a suitcase. What if a retailer could instantaneously send you a coupon for such necessities?
While retailers have become savvy to the role that social media plays in building trends, beefing up brand recognition, and providing insights into customer behaviors, most have yet to tap into the individual needs that customers convey — directly or indirectly — to the world.
The potential is enormous for retailers that zero in on these moments and leverage them to provide customers with instant product recommendations, coupons, or even expedited delivery.
Luckily, more and more consumers are open to sharing data with brands. In fact, 75 percent of consumers prefer retailers to use their personal information if doing so leads to an improved shopping experience, according to Forrester research. Over time, analyzing and acting on these key moments will help augment the much-hyped 360-degree view of a customer that so many retailers are focused on today.
Leverage cutting-edge tech to lead to greater transaction conversion
Deploying personalization at individual moments is far more profitable than just building a persona for customers, and can be utilized beyond hooking a customer on an immediate need to provide practical recommendations and assistance.
Technologies like artificial intelligence and Big Data will be critical to capturing and capitalizing on the moments of customer indecision, reluctance or confusion — those that lead them to either abandon items in their cart (physical or virtual), purchase the wrong item (leading to future frustrations and returns) or choose not to buy an item that they need because they’re unfamiliar with its features (too many complex product choices!).
Retailers can implement AI-fueled recommendation engines, customer service chatbots and more to quickly identify the stressful moments leading to a failure to purchase. The possible applications are endless.
Create an ecosystem of personalized services to retain customers
Social media, e-commerce platforms and other web-related tools are effective when building the basic persona of a consumer, and clue us into the moments that matter most in purchasing decisions. But delivering an exceptional in-store experience is just as paramount, as is maintaining the client’s relationship beyond the point of purchase. Unfortunately, this is where most retailers are consistently missing the mark.
Enabling technology in-store that helps direct, assist and provide recommendations to customers is a simple fix for many shopping-induced headaches. For instance, some retailers are using 3D scanners to more accurately determine a customer’s shoe size, thus reducing the likelihood of a return — and equipping the customer with the information necessary for future purchases.
With the holiday shopping season quickly approaching, it would behoove retailers to resist the urge to revert to an appeal-to-the-masses approach. Instead, retailers should be using the increase in online and in-store traffic to glean insights and test out new methods for monetizing the moments that matter — and connecting the dots between customer acquisition, transaction conversion and customer retention.