If you’re an old geezer like me, you might remember the theme song of the 1980s sitcom “Cheers”. It says that “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name”. When it comes to retail, most clients want just that. According to research, 46 percent of shoppers will buy more from a retailer that personalizes their shopping experience. Moreover, according to a RightNow Customer Impact Report, 86 percent of consumers will pay up to 25 percent more for a better customer experience.
Personalizing the shopping experience was one of the biggest challenges of e-commerce. How can you replace the personal human touch with a virtual shopping experience, and deliver the same value? Not easily. So companies developed tracking technologies, recommendation engines, chatbots and big data analytics systems in an attempt to “get personal” with the buyers.
This worked quite well. Online retailers now take advantage of said technological developments to create personalized experiences for customers across digital channels. As consumers, this has made us somewhat spoiled. We don’t only want a personalized shopping experience. We expect it. And according to research by Adobe, most brick-and-mortar retailers fail to deliver (even though they think they’re doing great).
#1 – Know Your Advantages
According to statistics, 94% of total retail sales are still generated in brick & mortar stores. Another advantage you probably didn’t know you had but can capitalize on: impulse purchases happen in-store more than online.
The most important advantages, however, are those unique to your business. Your location, your staff, your exclusive products, and that special sauce that makes your brand unique are your personal advantages.
#2 – Segment (and Understand) Your Client Audience
Personalization is about giving each individual the unique shopping experience that is right for them, and only them. No two shoppers are the same. But to start personalizing, you need to somehow categorize and characterize the people walking into your shop.
#3 – Employ Technological Solutions
Our love for our mobile devices, combined with innovation in IoT (internet of things) technologies have the potential to turn the shopping experience into one that looks like a scene from a science fiction movie. More and more retailers use in-store beacons and apps to personalize and enhance the in-store shopping experience.
#4 – Balance Personalization and Intrusion
Depending on your audience and business, you’ll need to balance out personalization with privacy. For example, the information people would be willing to give in return for value differs between a floral shop and a sex shop.
The good news, however, are that you’re probably too paranoid. While your clients are less so. According to some surveys, up to 90 percent of consumers are willing to share personal information for rewards and personalization.
#5 – Personalize with Loyalty Plans
We love loyalty plans and the benefits that come with them. According to studies, 80 percent of shoppers report that they belong to at least one loyalty program. Not only that, but 32 percent said strong loyalty programs trump lowest price when deciding where to buy.
#6 – Empower Your Store Associates
No smart chatbot can replace a human when it comes to choosing a product. One of the main things we expect, as customers, is a service-oriented approach from store associates. We don’t want them to sell us stuff, we want them to give us valuable information to helps us make a purchase decision. Roughly 40 percent of consumers believe that a knowledgeable sales associate would greatly enhance their retail shopping experience, and personalization is part of it.
Obviously, this means you need a trained and professional staff, but technology can help a lot. For example, the majority of customers use their mobile phones when showrooming. There’s no reason why your sales associates can’t too. Imagine asking someone in the shop about the technical specifications of some product and its location in the store. They pull out a smartphone, show you the location (with a map!) and send the specs right to your phone with a discount coupon for another product you might need to compliment the one you’re looking for. Personally, I would find it refreshing, after all the many times I got the answer: “Uhm… I’ll get someone from that department” from sales associates in shops.
#7 – Get Feedback
There’s probably no better way to personalize than to simply ask people what they want. We, as customers, appreciate being asked for our opinion on the services and products we pay for.
Keeping it Personal
Technology today empowers retailers to provide personalized shopping experiences across channels. But with great power, comes great responsibility. In crafting your personalization strategy for your brick-and-mortar business, you must consider many factors. The resources required, the training hours for store associates, and technological solutions needed, just to name a few.
Each business has its own properties and characteristics, and you know your business best. And that precious knowledge, combined with our tips, is your first step to a more personal shopping experience customers will want to repeat and share.
Great post Eyal, with close to 93% of all current US retail business conducted somewhere else than online, it makes a lot of sense to put attention to on how to maximize the physical retail in this age of the customer.
Thanks a lot, Sven. Obviously eCommerce gets most of the attention but brick & mortars far from gone.