Retail personalization is absolutely necessary for building customer relationships, and it’s a process that requires retailers to capture, organize and leverage vast quantities of customer data. When initiating a personalization strategy, it is necessary to focus on four essential categories of data that will lead to real and actionable insights.
One: Product Data
Product data is about more than just what people are buying and at what price. Yes, it is essential to know that customers may not buy an item priced at $35.99 but they will at $33.50. However, you must also dive deeper into product data to deliver true personalization.
For most retailers, it’s common sense to offer gloves to a shopper looking for a winter hat. However, if you studied your product data closely, you may discover much deeper correlations. In Russia, e-retailer Ozon.ru dug deep into product data and discovered that in addition to hats, coats and gloves, shoppers were also buying more books in the winter than any other season. They leveraged that insight to offer books to people shopping for winter outwear and, capitalizing on this hidden trend, boosted sales and strengthened relationships with its customers.
Two: Content Data
Retailers must identify the ways their customers interact with content—and which types of content they prefer. There is little sense in producing a regular series of informational emails if nobody will ever read them. Retailers must collect data on the types of content their shoppers consume, and use that data to guide marketing efforts.
Through data and analytics, you can learn whether your customers enjoy reading, watching videos or listening to audio. You may discover that your younger audience enjoys audio content they can download to their smartphones, while your older audience enjoys a good video product demo. However, you cannot assume. Only through analytics can you develop strategies that will speak to the content preferences of your unique customer base.
Three: Customer Data
Customer data can be sourced from a variety of areas, including social media, and offers a wealth of potential insight for retailers. Through social analytics you can learn your customers’ job titles, their hobbies and interests, and the topics that are likely to move them to convert.
Customer data can also be sourced through customer service interactions, in-store exchanges with associates, online store chat features, emails and customer engagement with mobile applications. As long as you are able to transform collected information into improved customer experience, shoppers will be forthcoming with their preferences.
Four: Contextual Data
How much could you learn about your customers if you knew the exact online path they took to reach your site, how much time they spend in your store, and the path they take throughout the store when shopping in person?
Contextual data provides a wealth of knowledge about customer preferences. With the right technology, you can determine how long customers typically spend in the shoe department before making a purchase or abandoning their quest. You can tell which department customers are most likely to visit after they spend time in the shoe department, and whether they are likely to make a complimentary purchase. Contextual data can provide invaluable insight to help streamline store layout and merchandising and tailor deals to shoppers based on where they are in-store.
Online contextual data can offer a peek into customer preferences, as well. For example, do you receive a lot of traffic from people who frequent “how to” videos on YouTube? This could tell you that your customers watch tutorials before making a product purchase. From there, you might make a series of your own videos, or perhaps sponsor videos to capitalize on this trend.
You can’t buy a personal gift for someone you barely know, and you can’t offer retail personalization to customers you do not know. In order to take customer relationships to the next level, retailers must focus on collecting, organizing and leveraging a variety of data to provide the precise shopping experience customers desire.