How can data help brands remain resilient and relevant in times of change ?

The recent worldwide pandemic has brought unprecedented changes in the global socio-economic order. Brands are no different, with a trend towards an increased focus on customer personalization, only the brands that shall anticipate, observe and act will come out victorious in these testing times. In order to better understand and anticipate the expectations of the customer, it is crucial for the brands to change the way they look at their customer journey.

The idea of personalization for brands is not that new, incumbent and legacy retailers have long employed various methods in-store to increase visibility of different brands by increasing shelf space and focusing on word of mouth for better sales and basket sizes.

Today, the hyperconnected customer has opened up new possibilities for customer personalization, in the form of collecting customer data in a manner that is innovative and does not compromise with customer privacy. According to a POS customer engagement survey by Boston Partners, 49 percent of customers purchased items they didn’t intend to buy due to a personalized recommendation. And 71 percent of consumers express some level of frustration when their experience is impersonal. While more than 70 percent of retailers say personalization is their top priority, there is a disconnect between recognizing the need for personalization and executing those experiences well.

This is an area of opportunity for retailers as digital and physical retail continues to converge, and the key to personalizing the experience is the ability to identify a customer as soon as they enter the store.

Here are some ways in which brands can deploy technology and solutions that truly enable fluid, customer-directed experiences. By strategically connecting all of the brands’ assets and channels, retailers are aiming to remove friction and serve up the right information on demand and in real time.

  1. Deliver Relevance: Ensure customers have visibility online to which items are in stock at store locations closest to them. Use geofencing and WiFi technology to serve up relevant, targeted messaging and offers when they are in store. This way of leveraging digital assets to provide an unforgettable experience in-store is crucial for present day retailers.
  2. Embrace new opportunities: Strategically extending programs, products, and services to new audiences can provide access to new customer bases in addition to offering more robust data collection opportunities.
  3. Know what matters most: Look to your most loyal customers to find out which causes matter to them and intersect with what matters to the brand. Tap into those societal conversations in a transparent, authentic, and meaningful way.
  4. Look for unique inspiration sources: Engage data points around emotional drivers like music, social causes, or location to develop a deeply personalized product offering, creating a unique connection with each consumer.
  5. Lean into mobile-first opportunities: With nearly universal ownership, smartphones support a wide array of solutions that help solve common customer challenges, like augmented reality-based try-on capabilities, or human- and AI-powered chat conversations.
  6. Let data lead the way: Examine customer reviews and digital interaction data to understand the brand’s biggest opportunities. Technology solutions can help drive conversion, spend, and brand loyalty by augmenting the overall shopping experience.

Now, since we looked at some of the many ways retailers can create value by effectively leveraging their digital assets to increase personalisation, reduce redundancy and waiting times and improve customer loyalty, let us look at some examples of the companies that successfully underwent transformation to be even closer to their customers.

  • Using an off-the-shelf, AI-powered, mobile discovery solution. Prestige beauty brand L’Occitane tailors their website layout to each user, based on that customer’s location, local time, previous purchases, customer profile data, and more.
  • Allbirds celebrated its second anniversary with a limited-edition shoe collection only available on Instagram, enabling customers to complete their purchase by swiping up on the Instagram story or tapping the link within the brand’s Instagram bio.
  • H&M’s new mobile app has brick-and-mobile capabilities built right in: customers can “Scan and Find” to track down out-of-stock items, live chat customer service, Rate & Review products, and Find in Store, using visual search capabilities to find which nearby store has their item in stock.

Moreover, an estimated $669 billion in global retail commerce revenue will come from mobile this year. Recognizing the huge revenue potential that mobile presents, retailers are doubling down on their mobile technology investments. However, most shoppers are still anonymous when shopping in a physical store so they don’t get the same level of personalized service. This is an area of opportunity for retailers, new technologies will further empower customers as they can dictate their own personal stage and experience.

WiFi can be a great tool to leverage the advantages of mobile devices by offering visibility and advertising opportunities, all of this on top of the seamless internet access provided. With retailers and brands struggling to cope up with increasing production costs, WiFi can be leveraged to monetize offerings and can serve as an essential revenue stream for businesses.

Creating valuable and memorable customer experiences requires a commitment to process improvement and innovation, and there’s no magic wand. Set the course, connect dots, get the data, and make sure the technology is in place to continuously measure improvement and drive results. Businesses that are laser-focused on their customer journey strategy and leveraging the power of self-service tools and the mobile channel will be the ones that can successfully exceed customer expectations in today’s integrated commerce environment.

Here are some ways in which brands can deploy technology and solutions that truly enable fluid, customer-directed experiences. By strategically connecting all of the brands’ assets and channels, retailers are aiming to remove friction and serve up the right information on demand and in real time.