Personalization and customization seem to be the top buzzwords on the tip of analysts tongues these days. And rightfully so. Consumers expect highly personalized shopping experiences from retailers and are willing to spend more money for it. However, there seems to be a disconnect of perception when it comes to retailers, consumers and the personalization experience they are getting, according to a recent study by Oracle NetSuite in partnership with Wakefield Research and The Retail Doctor, a retail consulting firm created by expert consultant and business mentor Bob Phibbs.
In the global study of 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives across the US, UK and Australia almost half of consumers (42 percent) – and almost two-thirds among the Millennial demographic (63 percent) – stated that they would pay more for improved personalization, while only 11 percent of retail executives fully believe that their staff has the tools and information needed to give consumers a personalized experience. Why is there such a huge gap between consumers and retailers and how are they solving it?
A Single View of All Customer Data
What is making personalization so difficult? The amount of data and silos that exist in a business pose as the biggest problem. Customer activity happens all over – social, web, mobile, in stores, etc. Cross tracking gives retailers insight into the customer journey and allows them to analyze what they need to be doing to target their consumer, regardless of the channel. Combining siloed sources of customer data into a single repository to get one complete view of the customer across all channels and touchpoints will deliver consistent customer service and support personalized marketing, merchandising and targeted promotions across all channels. Having transaction data flow from all of your retail channels to your warehouse and procurement departments, and invoice and expense data flow to the finance department and customer data flow to the marketing department gives the appropriate people in your organization real-time visibility. Having a 360-degree view of each customer so that you can deliver personalized service, build customer loyalty and provide a relevant, engaging shopping experience with your brand should be a top priority.
Customers expect a seamless experience when moving from online to offline. The shopping experience that once began and ended in a store is now a journey across many channels—online, mobile, in-store and over the phone. The challenge businesses now face is how to create a seamless, consistent customer engagement and buying experience across all of these channels. Providing an omnichannel experience delivers on customer expectations for seamless, consistent journey anytime, anywhere and anyway. The foundation for providing a true omnichannel experience starts with the company’s core technology. The ability to deliver an omnichannel experience rests on having a single commerce platform that unifies front-end and back-end systems, and provides a central hub for order management, customer, item and inventory data. The back-end systems of the platform will then funnel data to all sales channels, ensuring that accurate information across all customer touchpoints is delivered in real-time, creating efficiencies and opportunities to improve the customer experience.
The Future of Personalization
There is no question that offering personalization to customers is becoming the norm for retailers. But while retailers may have the potential to offer those customized and tailored experiences to their customers, they also need the financial resources available. The challenge around personalization is that it has expanded past recommending “similar products” to a consumer and instead trying to create an experience inclusive of their likes, dislikes, etc. Instead of personalization, it is now turning into an experience for the consumer that is relevant, instore and online. To have a truly “personal experience” for your consumer, your online and offline presence needs to be seamless. The retail landscape is changing too quickly to waste time and money recommending products to customers that already have it or are not interested in buying. Instead, by enforcing a personalized ecommerce site and product pages, you will save time for your customer by showing them relevant information and ultimately increasing their lifetime value. It will also drive higher engagements levels and keeps your customers coming back. Delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time is more necessary than ever before. With the proper technology and priorities in mind, retailers are making the move to provide a more seamless experience all while learning more about the customers they serve.
Learn more about the future of personalization in the retail study.