How Retail Personalization Optimizes the Customer Experience

By ​Karlie Morien

November 2, 2018

Retail personalization is no longer an option for brands, it’s an imperative. Businesses must focus on incorporating personalized interactions throughout the customer journey to impress customers on the first visit and entice them back for more.

According to Accenture, 56 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand that recognizes them by name. Additionally, 2 out of 5 customers say they have left a website due to feeling overwhelmed by too many options.

So, what does this mean?

Consumers not only enjoy a well thought-out, personalized customer experience, but they also want an experience that is relevant, clear and concise. Let’s get into how you can use retail personalization to optimize your current customer experience strategy.

Image Credit: Artisteer

What Are the Benefits of Retail Personalization?

Retail personalization forges lasting relationships with your shoppers because their needs are being met in a way that makes them feel understood as a customer. Optimizing the customer experience using retail personalization can attract new shoppers, as well.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020. The key to approaching retail personalization is to understand it as a spectrum: it could be as simple as recommending an umbrella on a rainy day, or as complex as redesigning your website’s navigation to better suit your individual customer’s needs. No matter what form, retail personalization drives results.

When you’re optimizing for better visibility, more relevant product recommendations, and dynamic content, you can expect to see an improvement in key metrics. For example, when Office Depot used personalization to satisfy the needs of customers at an individualized level, they saw a $6.9 million uptake in revenue over just 4 months. Whether you’re looking to drive conversions, boost revenue per session, or improve other measures of success, retail personalization is often the missing link between you and what is keeping you from meeting your goals.

Staying on Top of Retail Personalization Challenges

When done well, retail personalization can help brands understand customers to their very core. The challenge, however, is that some customers simply don’t want to feel as though their favorite brands know them better than they know themselves. They also do not want to receive an experience that doesn’t reflect them at all. The key to delivering the perfect experience is to strike the tricky balance between tuning in too far and offering one-size-fits-all.

Knowing When and Where to Find Your Customer

If a customer logs onto their favorite store’s website, they may be delighted to see content and product recommendations perfectly tailored to their needs. On the other hand, this might make some customers feel uncomfortably exposed. The balancing act of retail personalization is in pleasing both customers.

So, how do you find the sweet spot? Ideally, you should be collecting basic personal information about customers that can be used to improve their shopping experience. Name, age, and location are all helpful places to start. Displaying a product that the customer looked at once across multiple platforms several times throughout the day may cause them to pull away.

The key is to know your customer and improve their experience, but not to make them feel as though they are being monitored. The last thing you want to do is to make your customers feel like they cannot escape your brand. A good personalization engine will allow you to carefully choose your level of personal engagement with your customers, and choose how the data you collect will inform their experiences.

Making the Right Recommendations

Customers are looking for a tailored experience, and in order to meet their expectations that experience must include product recommendations. Providing customers with product recommendations is retail personalization best practice, but sometimes they miss the mark.

Layer in what you know about your customer so that you never end up recommending the wrong product. Customers could be driven to shop elsewhere if they find the product recommendations you’ve provided to be irrelevant.

But not all recommendations have to call attention to the data you are using to enhance them. For a truly relevant experience, the products you don’t recommend are as important as the ones you do. In order to keep engagement high, filter out items that are not available in the customer’s size, no longer in stock, or already added to basket. This will help your recommendations hit the mark without making the shopper feel tracked.

Leveraging a Personalization Engine

A personalization engine will bring your strategy to life, as you can pick and choose from the various types of customer information you have to deliver an improved customer experience.

For example, it’s a no-brainer that customers want convenience. A personalization engine can link their in-store visit to their online one, and vice versa. Simply remembering that this customer has paid your brand a visit before will show them that you recognize them and are looking to foster this connection.

A personalization engine uses open architecture to make this all possible. By analyzing millions of data points in real time, the engine can decide for you which are most relevant and closely aligned with your goal metrics.

The Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine is omnichannel, which means it’s possible to create connections across channels. From email to mobile apps to call centers, personalization engines can bring your customers an individualized experience at every turn.

Looking Ahead with Retail Personalization

Retail personalization can be applied in many different scenarios. And when used well, it will bring you more than a few steps closer to your business goals. When you stay aware of the potential hurdles that could come with retail personalization, you will be able to better optimize and bring your customers the streamlined experience they’re looking for.

To learn more about how to deliver a true 1-to-1 experience for your customers, take a look at the Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine. Or, if you would like to speak to an expert about retail personalization, contact us today.

Karlie Morien is the Director of Market Development at Monetate. She joined the company in October of 2016, and comes from a background of software sales and business development. She lives in Phoenixville, PA and you can likely find her cooking for her two daughters, ages 8 and 10.

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