Over the past decade, there has been much talk about “big data”. Whether or not (in some cases) customers gave their explicit consent, their behavior and consumption patterns were scrutinized. It resulted sometimes in a love-hate relationship between brands and their customers who are cautious when it comes to their data being shared. Even if it has always been a bit painful process, the biggest brands and stores have devoted themselves to data collection. But why, in the end? Did stores and brands keep their promise? And how do things stand when it comes to you?

In too many cases retailers try to sell or to attract customers each in their own way with the aim of selling the products they want absolutely to be sold, but they do not care about customers and their wishes. Usually, they see their audience as a single entity while customers would like to be treated as individuals. All these years spent collecting customer data only to lead to this conclusion? Do you care enough about the customer so that the store represents who they are or the only purpose of a loyalty card is to give the same discount to anyone regardless of their purchase history?

Enough! All retail players get priority, without exception

The most forward-thinking retailers who implemented their strategy of customer journey personalization can now see the results. In the food industry and drug stores, retailers who have personalized the customer journey saw an increase in sales which would be about 55% greater than the increase achieved by their competitors.

In 2019, there were 3 top priorities for retailers and there is no doubt they will remain the same for the coming years:

  1. Personalizing customer journey
  2. Giving greater responsibility to store managers
  3. Updating CRM/loyalty programs

Source: IHL Group – Why Retailers Are Doubling Down on Stores

The first step when you want to provide your customers with more personalization is to consider what tools retailers have at their disposal to better know their consumers. The most popular one is obviously the loyalty card offered by most stores. Heat maps and visitors counting come second.

It is announced that the penetration rate of these data collection tools will more than double in the coming years. The share of retailers who are planning to develop a loyalty program will increase from 29% now to 68% in the years to come. As for the use of heat maps and visitors counting, there may be an increase from 21% to 51%.

The second step is to make sure that all the customer data obtained from many different sources is centralized in one place. Clearly, having the technology for data collection is key, but having relevant analytics is also important. As the idea is to gain maximum knowledge with the aim of providing enhanced value to customers, you should be able to link all this data and transform it into interesting insights. Currently, most retailers have an online version of their store. It is necessary to integrate data collected online and consider it all as a package serving to achieve a shared goal: enhanced customer experience. You should ideally synchronize the online and offline inventories and make them reliable. Customers who visit the physical POS expect that the article they came for will be available, but usually it is not the case for 10-15% of articles. Being able to check available products is therefore important and it lets you consider the possibility of increasing your sales significantly.

On your way to converting offers

Once you established a connection between e-commerce and physical stores, you can make personalized offers based on information from both sales channels. For instance, you can offer an additional product available online after a person purchased in a physical store or you can encourage customers to visit the physical store after they purchased online. These offers proved their effectiveness since the increase in sales is said to be 186% greater than for those retailers who don’t make such offers. By personalizing, brands can encourage customers to do impulse buying which is most likely to appeal to consumers.

Knowledge sharing for better performing salespeople

Customer experience personalization and appropriate offers form only a part of the customer journey. You can find a great opportunity for personalization in the salesperson-customer relationship. You know that customers continue to go to physical stores mainly for two reasons: the need to get an article immediately and the need to get advice from an expert. Leading brands capitalize on tracking technologies form the moment a customer enters the store by informing salespeople about their online and offline purchase history. This enables the salesperson to have a more relevant interaction with the customer, to be proactive and to give more appropriate advice. Retailers who can today make use of this method will be the leaders of tomorrow.

It’s not easy to achieve the customer journey personalization and you have to be fully focused on the fact that you should let customers interact and buy as they wish. They decide on their own about their experience and the way they want to interact with you. The study shows that it is worth the effort for the brands which engage in personalization; they would see an increase in sales 3 times greater than their competitors. One thing is certain: making sure that customers know that this is all about them, not about the brand, will be the mantra for those who want to succeed in this new era in the world of commerce.