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#RetailTrends2020: The personalisation evolution

Personalisation is ready for its screen close-up in 2020. Technology and customer expectations are converging to propel personalisation—the process of using data to customise the timing, content, and design of every experience in real time—from a promise to a reality. Today’s shoppers are impervious to mass marketing techniques and expect personalisation that truly reflects their preferences. Whether that’s delivering highly selective and targeted communications that save them time and money or helping them navigate the myriad of choices that confront them whenever they need a specific product or service.

Looking to 2020 and beyond, staying at the forefront of the personalisation evolution will require a dynamic and flexible approach. Retailers will need to keep a careful watch for the newest technologies, practices and data sources and be ready to implement and execute the necessary changes quickly and efficiently in order to excite the customer and impact the bottom line.

Consumers want a shopping experience that is relevant for them on several levels. They have very personal ways of shopping, not only in terms of what excites them, but the promotions and prices to which they are sensitive, and the channels through which they like to shop or engage with brands and retailers.

Omnichannel and personalisation go hand-in-hand

Retailers have got used to the idea of omnichannel – creating an experience that allows shoppers to complete shopping journeys moving seamlessly between multiple platforms and channels – journey decisions that are driven entirely by the customer. As we move into 2020, we will see retailers advance the way they use marketing and promotions to reach customers through multiple marketing channels in a highly integrated and personalised manner.

Today personalisation largely amounts to presenting shoppers with a marketing mail or in-browser recommendation or promotion, based on browsing and transaction history. The new normal will be more granular and dynamic, making automated decisions based on behaviour, preferences, location, and historical transactions, and will tie this information together in different platforms. For example, a shopper looking for hair dye products might be presented with a commercial on their Instagram feed prompting them to download an app that will, firstly, show them how the colour would look on them and, secondly, enable them to seamlessly complete a transaction in the app. This is a truly personal promotion based on their actions, marketing preferences and, crucially, shopping behaviour.

Data, data, data

Data is now a crystal ball, enabling the future success of retailers. But collecting data is not enough, it must be stored in a way that connects all the sources together, creating a data foundation that offers a rich customer view. This data and its analysis are the secret to making the personalisation experience outlined above reality – it must be accessible in real-time, using both artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to reveal insights and make decisions.

One of the key aspects of personalisation is timeliness. For example, if a customer buys an electric toothbrush, a retailer should know how many brush heads come with that purchase. This can then be used to automatically schedule for the consumer to receive an offer for new heads and other accessories before the old ones wear out. The timeliness of that promotion or in-store coupon delivered to their smartphone or email can make all the difference in securing a sale.  Deliver that promotion too late – or too early – and it's a lost opportunity. Advanced real-time analytics has to be a key component of every retailer's technology stack if they are to successfully implement personalisation practices in 2020 and beyond.  Systems designed and authorised to automatically propose offers to shoppers, within certain criteria, and with no human intervention.

Personalisation in the 2020s and privacy

With privacy increasingly top of mind for consumers, having control over personalisation is becoming key for shoppers looking to curate their experiences and limit unwanted intrusions on their time. This means retailers and brands need to ensure they engage in dialogues with customers that deliver transparency on how their data is used – ensuring they deploy intelligent personalisation techniques that don’t alienate current and future customers. To be successful with personalisation in the years ahead, companies should work to build trust in how that personal data is used.

Get personal or go home

The retail successes we all discuss at the end of 2020 will be those retailers that got personalisation right. The ability to target relevant and personalised offers is increasingly becoming the deciding factor in a retailer’s success – it instils brand loyalty and excites shoppers. Personalisation is set to become even more advanced as we move beyond 2020, and any retailer not already preparing itself for this certain future, risks falling by the wayside.