Imagine this: a customer walks into an apparel store to find the perfect pair of jeans and blouse
for a night on the town. Instead of the customer stressing over finding the right ensemble without any help, a store associate pulls up the customer’s shopping profile and identifies a curated set of products that best fits the preferences and budget of that customer. Better yet, the customer walks into the store and receives an alert on their mobile phone with a promotion based on their past purchases or items identified in their shopping profile.
These kinds of shopping experiences are nothing new for retailers who are on the cutting-edge of
in-store personalization and customer service. Unfortunately, there are many more retailers who have not yet made personalization a key component to the store experience. Making a connection with customers in the store is not just a “nice to have” anymore, it is critical to their success.
Retailers, it is time to make the personalization revolution happen.
Most shoppers (especially those who really hate to shop!) want to feel like they are being whisked into an appointment with a personal shopper in a boutique store, where everything seems to be stocked with the products they like and need. Since competition will only continue to intensify for shopper loyalty, retailers must commit to taking a more personal approach with their customers in the store by focusing on quality and relevance. Although this can be achieved in several different ways, the approach that many retailers and brands are taking is via machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
AI and machine learning continue to top list after list as the “must have” technologies for 2017.
What’s more, it has become clear that with the continued adoption of machine learning and AI, personalization to wider audiences will become easier, cheaper and much more effective. Retailers, however, do have to walk a fine line of exactly how much personalization a shopper will allow before they feel “big brother” sets in. According to Ana Andjelic, senior vice-president and global strategy director at Havas LuxHub, “Retailers need to behave like butlers, not stalkers, when it comes to [this] data use.” A recent study conducted by Manhattan Associates suggests that consumers value loyalty schemes offering exclusive promotion offers well above a personalized shopping experience. In both scenarios, a shopper is still getting some type of personal attention from the retailer, but, like a good butler, is doing so at their comfort level.
We are beginning to see more retailers worldwide make the move towards in-store personalization. In the same Manhattan Associates study, 16% of U.K. retailers say they plan to step up in-store communication to consumers over the coming 12 months, and 28% say they will communicate with their consumers via personalization and tailored messaging. In a global study conducted by Zebra Technologies, 70% of executives said they plan to use beacons for location-based marketing by 2021.