by  Jess Vadino

Personalization as Key Currency for Retail

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In the retail economy, customer loyalty means the difference between life and death. Personalization is a key currency.

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Personalization is power

Retailers have to anticipate customer needs and pain points to deliver meaningful experiences and emotional connections. In fact, according to Gartner, virtually every disrupting retailer to date has solved a customer pain point, and the most powerful brands on the market are those that personalize experiences according to customer needs.

Sephora is a notable example of the power of personalization. Profiles overlap from online into in-store, providing customers with a tailored experience across channels. Their Beauty Insider platform gathers data from customers to feed into profiles that glean their preferences, provide recommendations, and send reminders to replenish supplies based on buying behaviors. They also send exclusive sales, spotlight items, and last-minute deals, and have invested in beacons. The retailer makes an overall effort to connect the online with the in-person and, as a result, Sephora was recognized as the retailer that provid es the #1 most personalized experience by Sailthru’s Retail Personalization Index.

Keeping an eye on the future

By contrast, misguided efforts towards personalization can completely botch the entire customer experience. Underutilizing data, failing to interlink it between various channels, and lack of creative ideas and manpower are common roadblocks on the way to delighting your customers.

Take J. Crew for example. The clothing giant started losing power after failing to invest in an omnichannel customer experience. Late on delivering seamless mobile and online experiences, as well as an underdeveloped IT force, the brand continues to play catch-up. Former CEO Mickey Drexler noted in a statement, “Today’s retail environment is changing more rapidly than ever before. Customers demand greater speed to market, convenience, and personalized shopping experiences.”

Your company, your customers

Make sure that your personalization efforts fit your customer base, and see what needs they have that aren’t being met. A study from Nielsen found more than half of customers worldwide have purchased clothes, books, and music online. Yet in comparison, less than a quarter of consumers have bought packaged or fresh groceries online. Wal-Mart has taken an interesting approach to this data by introducing 3D imaging. It allows shoppers to view real images of their groceries—rather than stock images—before purchasing online; and pairs this with the acquisition of Parcel, which offers a same-day, last minute delivery.

Ultimately, you need to look at your business through the lens of your shopper. Make it fun and make it relevant.

Interested in making personalization a competitive advantage? Check out our white paper, “What if Retail Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Evolv ing?”

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