These days, it seems the whole retail industry is talking about how important delivering a personalized experience is. In fact, recent research shows that, on average, 71 percent of consumers express some level of frustration when met with a shopping experience that is impersonal.
But how many companies are actually offering a personalized experience? And if they are, how many are doing it well?
When it comes to providing a truly authentic personalized experience, it is no longer just about targeting consumers online with ads that meet their shopping patterns. Instead, using an omnichannel approach to ensure a brand remains completely consistent across all channels – online and offline – really is key to being the best of the best.
With this consistency comes the challenge of streamlining — and utilizing — all the information we have access to in our online world. Whether that’s customer data, product descriptions, or a brands’ digital assets, a large part of the challenge a retailer faces when pleasing its customers is successfully managing all of this information.
But the good news is that this challenge has a solution that can not only help brands to ensure consumers keep coming back, but also help support brand image in the long run – technology.
Looking back on the last year in retail
There is no doubt that this year has seen huge challenges for the retail industry. With nonessential shops closing down for lockdown – a few times over – it is reported that UK online sales saw five years’ worth of growth in the past year alone, thus accelerating the growth of digital for retailers in a way that could not have been predicted.
The past year we have seen brands rise and fall throughout lockdown. For example, Topshop found themselves being bought by ASOS, and Boohoo purchased the rights to Debenhams. The pandemic showed the benefits of taking advantage of technological innovation. Cementing the fact that technological tools are needed in order to support retailers help translate the information they hold into engaging customer experiences. Whether it’s so consumers continue adding items to their digital basket, or they make the transition back to brick and mortar stores, the shift between the two needs to be seamless, creating the sense that they never truly left the physical store, because the online experience has successfully bridged the digital and in-person gap.
Yet, technology alone is not enough. Brands must ensure that they are being helpful rather than just delivering a personalized experience, and to do this they should have a strategy in place. Central to a successful experience is keeping it simple. Everything your customer must do when shopping online should be as easy as it can be — from searching for an item, to having the items in their cart follow them from device to device. If your customer experience is simple, a shopper is more likely to be satisfied with the experience.
Having the right strategy in place
In order for retailers to regain footfall, it is essential that they have a comprehensive multichannel strategy in place. This should take into account every single customer touchpoint; from social media platforms and the website to the shopfloor.
And at the heart of this plan should be the idea of being a helping hand. If a brand can successfully establish themselves as a partner to its customers, then this will lead to a positive impact on sales conversions. The ultimate goal.
By having the right tools in place, consumers can reap the benefits of an easier purchasing process: from identifying a product and checking it’s available, to buying it and having it delivered at a convenient time. This ease is helpful and shows that many retailers and brands are innovating their marketing strategies to reach today’s consumer.
In a personalized online retail world, information is king. Whilst some may be more digitally savvy and used to scrolling through the ASOS app, the impact of physical store closures has meant a shift to online for the first time for many. Resulting in online stores gaining prominence.
For many retailers this shift prompted the expansion of digital channels to go above and beyond a website and reach customers in a more personalized way across social platforms as well. With 80 percent of online shoppers more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences, it is crucial that consumers are faced with a consistent experience.
Retailers must therefore ensure that they have a smart multichannel strategy in place to deliver a personal customer experience that is true to the brand. In order to drive sales conversations, retailers must use data to deliver insights into the right content for the right channel in the right moment to the right customer – in the most personalized way possible.
Leveraging technology to support memorable experiences
Combining the power of technology solutions, like digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) software, allows retailers to access product data, marketing content, and digital assets from a centralized source in order to deliver an experience that is suitable and relevant to their target customer.
This means interactions will not only be relevant, but also helpful and easy for the consumer throughout every part of their purchasing journey. Allowing for a more memorable shopping experience, which in today’s retail landscape, is the key to exceeding customer expectations.
So, what does this mean for the industry moving forward? Well, more must be done for retailers to recognize that being a partner is dependent on building an informationally accurate experience. Using technology to provide consistent, streamlined, and helpful interactions can lead to improved sales figures, strong brand loyalty, and happier consumers.
As shops continue to open their doors, and e-commerce moves to serving as a convenience rather than a necessity, it is more important than ever that brands and retailers take steps to stand out against the crowd. By using an omnichannel approach, having a focus on customer experience, and providing a helpful hand, brands have the potential to not only sustain the business they gained during the pandemic, but to see more growth in the future.
Nate Holmes, Product Marketing Manager, Widen