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Customer personalisation: What do shoppers actually want?

Much like the British weather so far this year, the forecast for British retail in 2018 is mixed. We’ve seen reports of store closures and job losses, but it isn’t all doom and gloom; shopping centre owner Hammerson has just reported a strong start to the year despite ongoing challenges for the high street.

There are reasons to be optimistic. To quote Forbes: “If 2017 was the year of the retail apocalypse, then 2018 could be the year of a retail renaissance.” This is because retailers have responded to consumer demands and are evolving. So, while some closures are inevitable, many retailers are finding their groove.

So, how can you be sure to join the upward trajectory?

We know that in today’s landscape, experience is everything. Price wars are fruitless; there will always be a cheaper option somewhere else. Retailers must capture and keep their audience by delivering an outstanding experience.

And the cornerstone of this outstanding service? Great experiences coupled with Customer personalisation

But what does it mean in practical terms? And what level of personalisation do shoppers actually want?

Today retailers have access to a dizzying amount of data, which they can use to deliver all sorts of experiences. The key is to surprise and delight your shoppers, without intruding on their privacy.

Meeting shopper needs with customer personalisation

We know that personalisation can provide a tangible revenue boost to retailers. Nearly two thirds (64%) of UK shoppers who took part in a retail survey said that personalised offers would make them spend longer in store or buy more.

Among British retailers, only 14% currently let their in-store staff recognise a customer’s online profile and provide personalised offers – though a further 25% are planning to introduce this capability within the next three years.

If you’re offering loyalty rewards, make it personal. A study from HelloWorld found that 77% of shoppers think loyalty programmes should offer rewards that reflect their preferences and are relevant to them.

Use payment data to anticipate shopper needs

Over a quarter of UK retailers are investing in training for their staff, to better understand data insights derived from customers’ browsing and buying habits. A key area for this is payment data.

If all your payment data feeds into the same system, you can map consumer behaviour and identify trends to inform these decisions.

For example, ‘shopper origin' data will tell you where the majority of your in-store shoppers are coming from. Are they local? Or are they tourists from overseas? Knowing this will ensure you’re catering to the tastes of your most frequent shoppers. You can use this information to staff stores with relevant language skills, to determine which items to display, or which payment methods to support. If your in-store shoppers are Chinese tourists, for example, you should consider supporting Alipay, China UnionPay and WeChat Pay in-store.

Also, if your online and in-store payment data is connected, it’s easy to view the purchase history of your shoppers. So, whether they buy online or in store, you can greet them with a targeted selection of items based on previous purchases.

You can also use payment data to answer questions such as:

  • How many repeat shoppers do you get in store?
  • Which shoppers buy online and return in store?
  • How many in-store shoppers also bought online?
  • How much do they spend in each channel?

The insights are endless.

Be contextual

It’s is all about sending the right messages to the right shoppers at the right times.

You can do this in different ways. One example is to send push notifications to shoppers near your store, enticing them inside with a discount on an item they’d been browsing online. Or, since most new payment terminals come with beacons installed, you can recognise your shopper at the point of sale via their mobile app. You can then give them the option to pay in-app and relinquish points they’ve accumulated.

HelloWorld also found that 55% of millennial respondents like surprises. So, if you’re targeting millennials, offer personalised surprises such as discounts at the checkout.

Where to start?

With an array of new technology to choose from, it can be daunting to know where to start with customer personalisation. You’ve got chatbots, facial recognition technology, image recognition, and robotics all vying for your attention.

But data insights beat the latest technology any day. Focus on ways to get the most out of your unified shopper data before investing heavily in the latest tech.

And, importantly, focus on small changes rather than attempting an entire overhaul at once. Aim for minor wins, measure your results and keep iterating as you go.


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 10 May, 2018, 13:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Nice post in itself but I couldn't find the answer to the question posed in its title. On the one hand, consumers hate irrelevant spammy offers. On the other hand, when they get extremely targeted offers, they find them creepy / an intrusion into privacy. This is a big dilemma facing retailers - and other businesses including banks - and I haven't come across a scaleable resolution for it so far. Maybe I misunderstood the title but I thought this post would provide that resolution.

Myles Dawson

Myles Dawson

UK Managing Director


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21 Aug 2014



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