How retailers are personalising the shopper journey

Everyone likes the personal touch. Whether it is the local barista remembering your morning coffee order, or a website suggesting a top to go with the jeans you bought last month. Today, offering a service which is special and thoughtful makes retailers stand out from the crowd.

And according to Spencer Izard, head of Europe at IDC Retail Insights, personalisation will be the next loyalty programme.

He believes personalisation has the potential for retailers, to not just understand customers – and in turn improve profits – but to optimise the way they operate as a business.

"To establish the foundation required to realise the benefits of personalisation it is essential for a retailer to focus on providing high quality digital product information across both online and in-store to both staff and consumers. As well as offering true inventory transparency to provide the consumer channel agnostic availability, and ensuring the opportunity to receive goods is the most convenient for the consumer," he explained.

But examples of customer personalisation in retail are few and far between. Most online users have been plagued by cookies which regurgitate adverts for online items they have searched for, and already bought – the sour note kicks in when an ad platform presents customers with a discount for said bought item.

Izard explained: "Data aggregation and analytics are the core technologies for a personalisation strategy because it does not matter how sophisticated a retailer's digital customer experiences are if they cannot gain insight from the data said experiences generate."

Marketing currency

One vendor which offers personalisation technology is Monetate. CEO, Lucinda Duncalfe, told Essential eCommerce that personalisation is now recognised as a "international marketing currency".

"Brands view personalisation as mission critical," she said. "By providing a differentiated, unique customer experience, they can cater to customer needs with a tailored experience that treats them as individuals rather than as a homogenous group."

And while the UK and US is showing potential at personalising the customer experience, Duncalfe said the Nordics is also being proactive in implementing technology to provide that personal touch.

She pointed to Monetate customer, Helly Hansen, which has been using geo-targeting to personalise the customer's shopping journey in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, as well as the UK and areas of Southern Europe.

Helly Hansen

As a global brand Helly Hansen's aim was to personalise its homepage for different geographies. The retailer decided to do that by combining local weather forecasts with Monetate's geo-targeting capabilities to alter what is displayed on the homepage.

When this was used in Germany during a five-day rainfall period, rather promoting winter ski-wear, the homepage was personalised to present rainwear, which led to an increased conversion rate of 170% and 52% for new visitors.

The retailer is also localising its product descriptions to reflect local language, for example “trousers” and “jumpers” in Britain are translated into “pants” and “sweaters” in America.

"Now that we know the power of personalisation, we want more," said Ragnhild Geissert, European eCommerce manager at Helly Hansen. "The only limitation we have is the number of people we have to develop and drive new tests and campaigns. The impact has been a revelation.

"It is far quicker to conceive, prepare and deploy a marketing campaign using Monetate’s personalisation technology. By continually testing and tweaking campaigns and increasing your knowledge of the customer, we are more efficient with our resources and driving more sales," added Ragnhild.

The Monetate platform allows retailers to manage different customer segments and run customised and real-time marketing campaigns. The solution sits on top of the retailer's existing website and email service provider, which allows Monetate to synchronise data and deliver the relevant information needed to better engage with customers.

Retailers have access to a single interface to deploy marketing campaigns and implementation of the technology is through Monetate's JavaScript ExpressTag placed in the retailer's page header.

Country Attire

Meanwhile, e-tailer Country Attire, which sells premium brands including Barbour and Hunter, has implemented Monetate to target different countries with its free international shipping offer. Before working with Monetate, Country Attire relied solely on A/B testing, but using Monetate to deliver different personalised experiences increased revenue per session by over 32% and increased conversion rates by more than 28%.

"Personalisation provides us with a point of differentiation, allowing us to punch above our weight in a crowded online marketplace," said Jenny Parker, marketing director at Country Attire. "With Monetate our aim is to provide a unique online service akin to a personal shopper on the high street."

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