There’s no doubt about it: retailers are up against it at the moment. The ongoing pandemic combined with rising customer expectations means it’s harder than ever to survive, let alone thrive. In fact, 2020 ended with a 3% decline in total global retail sales, with many much-loved brands downsizing or even folding completely.
To survive these challenging times, retailers need to home in on what matters most in this day and age – customer experience (CX). Time and time again, research has shown that CX can make or break a brand. Indeed, PwC found that people will pay up to 16% more for a great CX, while Gartner found that 64% of customers value CX over price.
So what’s the secret to great CX in 2021? Hyper-personalisation.
What is hyper-personalisation?
The concept of personalisation in retail has been around for years. But for a long time, many retailers struggled to take it much beyond using a customer’s name in an email or sending a discount voucher when someone abandoned a basket.
For personalisation to have an impact, it needs to go beyond the basics – and really make use of the vast swathes of data retailers have at their fingertips.
Hyper-personalisation is all about crafting end-to-end customer journeys tailored to individuals. This means allowing customers to start purchase journeys on whichever device they want, browse products curated specifically for them, complete orders how and when they choose and communicate with a brand at any point across multiple channels (without having to waste time repeating themselves).
Why is hyper-personalisation so powerful?
The last year has seen most of us seriously deprived of human contact. Where once we’d wander into our favourite shops, casually browse the rails and chat with shop assistants who would recommend products, now shopping is almost entirely digital. Global retail sales may have declined overall in 2020, but e-commerce soared by 9.1% in the US alone.
The result: shoppers are desperate to feel seen. We don’t want to be just another hit on a Google Analytics chart. We want to be recognised as the individuals we are. Hyper-personalisation can help deliver that kind of recognition.
But what’s in it for the retailer?
When done right, hyper-personalisation can seriously boost sales. 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from a company that offers personalised experiences. And from a brand’s point of view, 88% of retailers say personalisation has improved the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.
And it gets better. Hyper-personalisation won’t just increase your sales volumes – it will also increase sales value. According to Salesforce research, when shoppers follow personalised, AI-powered product recommendations, their average order value increases by 14%.
Put like that, can you afford not to implement hyper-personalisation?
How do you implement hyper-personalisation?
The secret to effective hyper-personalisation is real-time data. The more up-to-date customer data you have readily available, the more you can personalise their experiences. And the secret to real-time data? Automation.
Automation can bring together disparate data sources from across your business and combine them to identify and deliver the right CX in real-time. You can use automation at any stage of the customer journey, from marketing right through to post-sale customer service. Not only will it help you deliver a personalised experience, but it will also save you resources, thereby reducing operational costs.
For example, Next Best Action is the holy grail of hyper-personalisation. Fully realised, it gives you the ability to identify and deliver the right CX in real-time based on everything you know about the customer. Not only does Next Best Action make recommendations based on customer’s behaviour and historical data, but it also analyses signals from across the entire customer journey, independent of business domain. It can therefore manifest in many ways – from Next Best Offer in marketing campaigns to recommendations in customer service scenarios. In fact, the Next Best Action recommendation may be to take no action at a particular moment if it is in the best interest of the long-term relationship.
When implemented correctly, Next Best Action therefore becomes a continuous way of engaging customers with the most relevant content or offer, using the right channels. And because it’s self-optimising, your campaigns can become entirely automated and customer-centric.
Like with any implementation, it’s important to monitor successes and bottlenecks for continuous improvement. There should be a regular process of review to ensure the solution is delivering the best experience. Engage Hub’s Customer Journey Tracker makes this easy – it incorporates data from all systems, enabling you to visualise customer journeys and what happens at each touchpoint. That way, you have a validation that provides your business with confidence everything is working as expected.
Hyper-personalisation is intrinsic to the future of retail.
There’s no doubt that there’s still uncertainty facing the retail sector. While we continue navigating the pandemic’s effects, shopping habits will continue evolving – and retailers will continue facing new challenges.
But one thing’s clear: the retailers that survive will be the ones that deliver truly personalised customer experiences, both online and off.
Download our latest whitepaper to see how journey automation can cut costs, deepen engagement and keep customers on the path to conversion.