Instore Fight Back: The Power of True Personalisation – Sarah McVittie, Co-Founder Dressipi
Posted July 25, 2016on:
We recently hosted our first round table discussion in London with our Chairman Lord Rose. Attendees included a brilliant collection of ecommerce and retail experts from All Saints, Wallis, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Selfridges, and Fat Face, as well as analyst Richard Hyman, Ian McGarrigle from World Retail Congress and Mark Vandevelde, Global Head of Retail at the Financial Times.
The topic we focused on was “In-store fight back: using customer data to offer cross-channel personalisation and boost dwindling in-store sales”. We spoke about three main areas: the challenges facing retail and how these highlight the need for true personalisation (rather than cohort or click-based recommendations) to bring excellent customer service back to all aspects of retailing; the massive benefits that collaboration can bring to all parties, and how this can practically be achieved amongst competing retailers; and how a combination of these components delivers the ultimate instore experience (I’ll address collaboration and the instore experience in separate posts).
At Dressipi we focus on delivering true personalisation. This allows us to get to know each and every customer, understand their intent and deliver the best possible service however they choose to interact with a brand. This is the one tool retailers can use, and are in a better position to exploit, in response to the extraordinary growth and threat of pure play retailers, like Amazon.
Retailers have responded slowly to new technology and data analysis, having been focused on delivering to short-term revenue targets thereby making it difficult to plan for the longer term. This focus brings more discounts and promotions, leading to less cash and resources available for developing excellent services and differentiated products and brands.
Meanwhile, customers’ needs are changing and the way we use technology is evolving rapidly. Never before have there been so many brands or products available with different channels to use for each step of the customer journey. This overwhelming abundance of choice just increases the need for more personalised marketing and selling. Customers are now demanding that retailers think in the truly personalised realm, where each individual customer is recognised and gets a differentiated experience based on their intent and their preferences.
Truly personalised services are not new. This level of excellent customer service was the norm back in the good old days of retail. It’s just that personalisation on a mass scale has not been possible until now. It’s a big opportunity for retailers, not just to address rising costs and eroding margins but more importantly to become the disrupters not the disruptees.
It’s time to start thinking differently. We need to reinvent retail and that advantage is lost if the sole focus is price. Amazon has mastered the ability to get customers commodity products cheaper and more conveniently. But people don’t use Amazon to discover something new, or be inspired to find something that they didn’t already know about. Particularly in the case of fashion.
Personalisation should connect the dots between each customer and their individual unique browsing and purchase journeys. Stores are an important part of this winning formula. Online and mobile commerce continue to grow but on average 75-80% of sales still happen in store. It’s still where the majority of value is created. Customers can touch and feel products, and be immersed in the brand. This is why we have seen Amazon, Birchbox and Warby Parker open their first physical stores. It’s because shopping isn’t just about buying and pushing a button. It’s a discovery process. These pure play retailers know that physical connection with shoppers is important.
We are seeing shopping being reimagined from every angle through interactive video displays, touch-screen technology, personalized fitting-rooms, digital memory mirrors, VR etc. All of these touchpoints are data gathering and learning opportunities that can then be fed back to create better products and to deliver more hyper personalised selling. It is the customer data from both physical and online commerce that gives the bricks & mortar retailers the algorithmic advantage.
Customers will shop with the brands that recognise them, help them and inspire them. In return for that amazing experience they will share valuable data about themselves and their preferences. This provides retailers with the data and insight to create better products, targeted selling and more efficient merchandising and distribution, meaning shoppers feel more connected to the brand and better serviced. True personalisation can start to move retailers to a world of predictive, not just reactive, shop keeping.