Numerous studies show that consumers now expect a more personalised offer from brands. This might be products tailored to their needs, tastes and habits, or a more personalised service, regardless of the channel. It’s certainly a challenge that every retailer today is looking at.
Remember the good old days when no sooner had a customer reached the door of a fashion boutique, the saleswoman had already set aside the items that she thought they might like. She’d carefully give you advice on how to wear such a garment and recommend articles that would go with it, based on what she knew of your tastes. A few years on, this level of service often seems a distant memory belonging to a bygone era.
Big Data and customer relations
Retailers have long been battling to improve customer service, but a multiplicity of contacts across web, mobile and stores in any consumer interaction with the brand is taking its toll. According to an eBay study, nearly a third of British and German consumers have used multiple sales channels as part of a recent purchase. This has ultimately strengthened the power of brands. They’re now able to gather huge volumes of qualitative data, have a better knowledge of their customers and are therefore able to offer a fully personalised shopping experience, just like in the old days!
A recent study conducted by BloomReach found that 31% of consumers would be more likely to buy products if they were tailored, or based on more personalised recommendations. However, only 2% of the 122 UK online retailers that took part in this study considered a personalised shopping experience as a determining factor. This shows the divide between the expectations of consumers regarding the online shopping experience and the perceptions among retailers.
Personalisation involves all channels
The sports shoe and apparel retailer, Asics, provides the perfect case study for personalisation at the store level, after equipping its flagship Hamburg store last October with an interactive recommendation tool. It combined a digital wall display with iPad’s to offer customers a selection of shoes based on a series of questions relating to their preferences and habits. Likewise, at Delsey, the brand behind the connected suitcase, customers themselves can use an application to determine, in just 3 questions, the type of bag that best fits their needs.
Clienteling software suggests that recommendations can be made before the client makes the first move, but in practice, even a customer who wonders through a store should be engaged by a more personalised experience. According to Rick Curtis, director of strategy at Amaze: “The principle behind a recommendation tool is not only to offer clients a better experience, but also help them have a one-to-one relationship with the brand.”
It’s a challenge that Lancôme has often sought to overcome, especially in trying to offer online customers the same level of personalisation that sales staff can provide in stores. The cosmetics brand recently launched a tool which allows customers on its website to view instantly a selected product on a mannequin with the same complexion. Similarly, any product recommendations take into account the skin type of the client, their personal preferences, as well as current trends and product availability. It’s a good example of personalised professional advice which often encourages the customer to discover new products.
This article is brought to you by Stores & Stories