Personalisation and the Changing Retail Customer Journey
Personalised experiences have become a hot topic in today’s retail industry. Customers are raising the bar for retailers in terms of their in-store expectations and now brands large and small are trying their best to connect digital and physical experiences to transform their customers shopping journey into a more unique one.

It comes as no surprise that technology has changed the way we shop. More than 50% of purchases are now influenced by some form of digital information and it is estimated that up to 40% of retailers are using in store signage in an attempt to integrate a customer’s digital and physical shopping experience. With access to rich customer information, retailers have a great starting point to get to know their customers better. Good data lets retailers really understand their customers purchasing habits, allows them to engage with them in a different way and helps them personalise a customer’s multi-channel experience. 

Enhancing customer experiences and using data is nothing new to retail, but it is fair to say that in recent years much of the attention has been on driving the online user experience with some physical stores being left behind. Of course, ecommerce has had a huge influence on how the customer shops and continues to gain momentum in the retail world, but research shows us that people still love physical stores. Around 90% of today’s shoppers still prefer to make their final purchase in a shop, but many will have used various touchpoints and channels before reaching this point.  This ‘always connected’ customer expects relevant content in relation to what they are doing anytime and anywhere. They want organisations to treat them as individuals, know their personal preferences, and due to their fluid purchasing habits, the term ‘omni-channel’ customer has emerged.

Managing customer engagement is one of the biggest challenges for retailers. Everything the customer experiences from content, branding, customer service, and product information all needs to feel fully integrated, easy and familiar. Here are just a few things that retailers everywhere are doing to accomplish this:

It begins with data:
People know that through websites, search engines, social media, and in store metrics, retailers are able to track some of their interests and habits. For a good omni-channel experience to work, a retailer would have to know their customers well, understand who they are, how they like to access their content, and how they tend to purchase their goods and services. Many will be inviting customers to share their feedback through reviews, website forms and in-store loyalty programmes, to help personalise how they target and interact with them both online and in-store.

Promote a cross-channel brand experience:
The channel where a customer first comes across products and services isn’t always the same channel where they make their final purchase. The aim is to blur digital and physical experiences and to make is seamless for customers to move from channel to channel without leaving the brand. This is leading to retailers linking their online and offline journeys.
Take Starbucks as an example; The Starbucks rewards app is frequently mentioned in “top” lists of omni-channel efforts. Customers have the option of checking and reloading their Starbucks card balance through their phone, the Starbucks website, or when they’re at the store. Any changes are updated in real-time, across all channels, keeping the customer updated no matter where they are or what device they’re using.

Digital touchpoints:
The power of technology means much of the customer journey takes place in the digital world. Online, the digital influence is an obvious one, but thanks to digital possibilities there are various ways to take this into physical stores too. Interactive digital displays are just one example used to promote products, brands and services, often strategically placed, with appropriate content in attempt to grab the attention of customers. Self-service touchpoints are another way to empower the customer and by merging online capabilities with the store experience it allows them to discover product information or make a purchase at their own pace. 

In store talent.
According to research by PWC, 40% of consumers believe a sales associate with a deep knowledge of the product range is what is most desired and remains the number one factor for making the experience the best it can be. As such, retailers are going back to basics on customer service and giving their staff the tools needed to personalize and enhance the shopping experience.

One thing we know for sure is that today’s customer is firmly in charge of what they expect. This modern shopper is transforming the way retailers use digital means to deliver their customer journey, and we are excited to be on this journey with them.