How To Successfully Use Personalisation In Online Retail

By Bronto Software

By Saima Alibhai - Practice Manager Professional Services at Bronto Software

Many ecommerce marketers are tempted to view January as an opportunity to slow down and recover from the Black Friday and Christmas craze. Strategic marketers will kick off the year by getting to know their customers and finding new ways to keep them interested and engaged.

New functionalities emerging in ecommerce technology platforms offer a variety of tools these proactive marketers can use to do just that. 

The year ahead will bring several innovative trends to the forefront, but underlying everything is the demand for relevant, personalised communications – from both the brand and the customer. What can you do to prepare for the year ahead and put your customers at the heart of your programs?

This article provides tips for how you can use personalisation to convert your online retail shoppers in 2017. 

1. Engage customers earlier in the sales process with browse recovery

After the success of basket recovery campaigns, brands are now looking for other personal communication strategies to help them stand out in the competitive retail landscape. The challenge is understanding customers quickly enough to deliver relevant insightful content at just the right time. 

Marketers are now beginning to move upstream in the shopping lifecycle, creating personalised campaigns that react to browsing behaviour with triggered messages well before an item has been added to a basket. New technology offerings have made such basket recovery programs more cost-effective, allowing ecommerce marketers to develop a more complete re-engagement strategy for customers.

Consumers abandon shopping sessions for many reasons, from getting distracted to starting a new session on another device to simply completing their online price comparison research. Smart marketers will take advantage of this user activity and leverage the valuable browse data to re-engage the individual with a personalised offer encouraging them to return and complete the purchase. 

2. Enhance the shopping experience with virtual and augmented reality

Past attempts to integrate virtual reality into the shopping experience have been met with mixed results. But with the rise of augmented reality apps, particularly in stores, consumers are now reacting favourably to mixed reality shopping. In fact, AR is a hot technology, with a recent ISACA survey finding that 62% of respondents thought AR would be useful for shopping.

2017 will likely see both technologies come alive, generating valuable ROI for retailers that understand how to use VR and AR to create more personalised and immersive experiences. Is it right for you? Look at how the such technology could drive customer engagement with your products, whether online or in the store.

The possibilities for augmented and virtual reality are as varied as the stores themselves. Some early adopters allow customers to virtually try on products in a variety of colours and sizes, others display matching accessories and even give the option to order from another store right from the dressing room.

The key to effective mixed reality is to bridge the gap between online and in-store by providing key information to enhance both shopping experiences. Offer the in-store customer as many product details as you would online, but also supply valuable data, such as custom feedback on fit and finish for online shoppers. Such comprehensive solutions make a retailer stand out.

3. Encourage Multi-Channel Shopping with GeoTargeting

Often overlooked is the influence that online communications (not just email, but website interactions, too) have on foot traffic in the real world. Geotargeted messages have a huge impact on foot traffic, and not just for click & collect visits. When you market to individuals, even as you execute mass campaigns, you can message to a hyper-personal segment as part of your overall strategy for using personalisation in online retail to convert shoppers.

One of my favorite examples involves a multichannel auto parts retailer with a popular web presence and a quite large local presence throughout the UK.

Their first move that crossed between the virtual and real world was enabling click & collect capabilities for hundreds of stores throughout the country. Then they enabled true one-on-one personalisation in their emails. That allowed them to promote the nearest local store – with offers and hours – to every recipient of every email. Not only did foot traffic increase, it increased with a purpose.

The great thing about hyper-personal marketing is that you can leverage anything with your communications – key dates like birthdays and anniversaries, birth, weather events like the first warm day of spring, local happenings, and combinations thereof.

4. Post-Purchase Campaigns

Sometimes, the best new ideas are enhanced versions of old ideas. Such is the case with the good old “post-purchase campaign.” Like other hyper-personal campaigns, the technology advancements allow you to cross-reference a purchase with personal information, past purchases or related items.

That auto parts company mentioned earlier sends a follow-up email with every oil purchase for oil filters, air filters and other items related to performing an oil change.

A valuable specific use of post-purchase campaigning is to build user-generated content – reviews of the service and/or products to help other consumers make decisions. Not only does it keep a customer engaged after the purchase, but it allows you to leverage their experience to create more customers.

5. Offer a convenient checkout experience via new payment technologies

As with mixed reality, convenience is critical for a positive customer experience. Customers want instant gratification, so brands should constantly be looking for ways to provide a seamless and obstacle-free shopping experience.

For example, by enabling payment completion via a fingerprint, Apple Pay has removed several steps to online buying. Not only does this make the checkout process more convenient for the customer, it limits the opportunity for hesitation and basket abandonment.

Combining these new payment technologies with a wider variety of fulfillment options (i.e., click and collect, instant delivery, etc.) allows for a personalised shopping experience to suit each consumer’s needs. Finding ways to build on this beyond the first purchase – such as recalling previously selected delivery options – will strengthen both your personalisation capabilities and your customer relationships. 

6. Stay Up on Trends

Consumer expectations will continue to evolve throughout 2017, and commerce marketers that are prepared stand to gain market share, achieve a higher AOV, close more repeat business and attain more success.

While focusing on personalisation in online retail is important, don’t be left behind. Keeping up on retail trends in 2017, putting the customer first and using the data you collect will lead to a better user experience, and ultimately, a bigger bottom line. The time is now! 

To find out why global commerce is now a reality and how to take advantage of it download 2017 Commerce Trends

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