Personalisation strategy must stretch to 'the boring stuff'

Everyone in retail has a definition of what the term “personalisation” is, and many of these descriptions were conveyed during an insightful panel discussion at RetailEXPO 2019 in London on 2 May.

Representatives from shirt brand Hawes & Curtis, sex toys retailer Lovehoney, online wine club Naked Wines, and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club all said they are continually grappling with how to personalise eCommerce and how it’s an ongoing task.

But one common theme expressed by all those sitting on the panel, despite the different sectors in which they operate, was how the personalised experience customers receive when shopping online must be better represented down the engagement chain.

Laura Rosenberger, COO of Majestic-owned Naked Wines, said it is crucial to personalise “as much as possible” in her industry. Indeed, the Naked Wines business was established with this mantra at its core back in 2008, but she acknowledged more still can be done.

“In terms of what I think personalisation is, it is something that really needs to be end to end [through] the whole customer journey,” she said.

“A lot of brands tend to personalise just at the browsing stage, whereas I think it needs to go to the checkout, the delivery experience and then to re-engagement. A lot of brands still have quite far to go on that point.”

Matt Curry, head of eCommerce at Lovehoney, said he would be keen to add more personality to the post-purchase process. He cited online fashion house Asos as a positive of example to follow in this regard.

“[Lovehoney] has personality on the site but the moment you leave the site, all the communications are [generic],” he explained, adding that he wants to better engage and “congratulate” customers for going on their “adventure” into the world of sex toys.

“It’s about personalising the boring stuff. We talk about how hilariously boring our packaging is, but you’ve got all the insides to play with as well – you can do all sorts of things but we don’t at the moment.”

Tottenham’s optimisation manager, Sarah O’Brien, revealed that South Korea – thanks largely to fact star forward Heung-Min Son is from the country – is the club website’s third biggest sales market. Using Global-e, the eCommerce team has ensured those accessing the website outside the UK are presented with local payment scheme options to encourage conversions.

On personalising the post-purchase journey, she added: “I think it’s something more people should be looking at.

“Not just a follow up review email two weeks later saying 'tell us what you think'. Sometimes [customers] get the review before the product [itself].”

Underlining why end-to-end personalisation is so important, Hawes & Curtis’s global CRM and loyalty manager, Hannah Dwyer, said getting one-time customers to make a second purchase, and driving loyalty is a key part of her current role.

“I’m looking at this; the cost of acquisition is huge compared to actually retaining that customer.”

Hawes & Curtis has started sending emails to customers directly from its owner, who is the entrepreneur and TV show Dragons’ Den star Touker Suleyman. They thank people for making a purchase and offer a list of other recommended items.

“We do it every February, and it really works as a thank you,” noted Dwyer.