Let’s Get Personal!

Personalization. It’s all the rage these days in online commerce. A survey conducted by Monetate revealed that 94% of companies agree that online personalization is critical to success. But what exactly is online personalization? It’s bringing the expert in-store sales associate experience to online channels. As we move from an omni-channel to infinite channel model of commerce, personalization is certainly going to be the key to building long-term relationships with consumers.

Ecommerce giants like Amazon have the algorithms in place that generate relevant products offers for shoppers. But this article on Retail TouchPoints by Dan Darnell of Baynote, indicates that personalization goes beyond just the product details page. It has to start with the discovery process itself. The article suggests how the discovery process can be personalized no matter what the consumer’s level of engagement is with your website. Brands and retailers can leverage everything from search queries to checkout process data in order to enhance the buyer’s experience.

Conversations about personalization often revolve around privacy concerns. But here’s the thing. The above mentioned Monetate survey also reveals that 75% of consumers don’t mind sharing personal information if it enhances their shopping experience. This is a key element that businesses need to incorporate into their overall strategy. Using consumer data is like doing a tight-rope walk. You must maintain your balance at all times.

Businesses cannot cross the fine line between building a trusting relationship and making a consumer feel intruded upon. How do you achieve that balance? The easiest way to do that is by having the consumer opt in to the personalization process. The above statistic makes it clear that consumers obviously want that enhanced experience. For instance, when a consumer downloads your mobile app, let them know how their information is going to be used, and then more importantly, deliver results. Once they realize how much value is in the experience, they won’t back out.

The other essential component of the personalization piece is seamlessness. In the era of pervasive commerce, businesses cannot afford to not streamline their product assortment and offers across the various channels. So if your customer uses Shopkick to tag her favorite items online, then as soon as she walks into your store, you could use iBeacons to let her know where that item is located in the store. This is the sort of experience that creates a lasting memory.

Same goes for the use of social commerce. Consumers feel that brands don’t listen to them. That’s not a sentiment brands can afford to let fester in our hyper-connected world. If a consumer posts something on your Facebook page, whether it is positive or negative, you have to respond to it. Case in point here is Nordstrom. They have owned social media commerce and made it one of their strongest assets.

Brands and retailers shouldn’t think about personalization only in the context of product offers. It is more all-encompassing than that given the variety of channels that one uses to connect with consumers now. But of course, the crux of it all does lie on the product offer. So businesses must have in-depth understanding of their own and their competitors’ product assortment, pricing, availability, attributes, and promotions. Having such rich and layered information can enable them to successfully personalize and deliver the right product offer to the right person, at the right time, and through the right channel.

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