Posted on October 24, 2013
Imagine a world where your favorite retailer creates a personalized shopping experience that makes your life easier.
Liz, a young urban professional, spots an image of a cute shirt for sale at her favorite store on a friend’s Facebook post. She goes to the retailer’s site and saves the page for later as she is on her way out to meet a friend. In the process of saving the page, she opts-in to receive deals from the site, as there may be a purchase in Liz’s future and she wants to get the best deal.
A few days later, Liz is walking by the store, and receives a message on her phone that highlights items from her saved searches and offers her a real-time promotion. She goes into the store and gets help from the associates who know exactly what Liz is looking for. She picks out two tops but she can’t decide which one looks better. Using an augmented reality app that creates an image of her in both tops, she uploads those images to Facebook so that she can get a second opinion from her friends. When she finally gets a general consensus from her friends, Liz makes her way to the checkout where she gets a message on her phone from the retailer suggesting matching accessories that would go great with the shirt she picked out. Liz purchases the items along with some of the other suggested accessories and can’t wait to wear her new purchases later that evening.
As we become more connected, the retail experience will continue to evolve and we should expect a richer more personalized experience in the not so distant future. The experience described above is possible for retailers to implement today, but unfortunately big data is challenging and this level of personalization causes some concerns around privacy. Based on current research, we already know from a recent study that 65 percent of U.S. shoppers research products and services online before making an in-store purchase and 80 percent of smartphone owners want more mobile-optimized product information while they’re shopping in stores. There is an opportunity to enhance the current shopping experience to make life easier for us, and at the same time make retailers smarter when they harness the readily available data they already have.
In order to achieve the above experience, it is essential to have a fully integrated marketing strategy to create a seamless customer experience. Here are a few areas to keep in mind.
CRM system deployments must include data collections from all marketing touch points. The collected data needs to be used efficiently and distilled information needs to be available to in-store personnel. This means that as a customer enters a store, this can alert the sales agent to recommend products that fall within a certain style profile to personalize the shopping experience and increase retail sales.
Mechanisms like location-based messaging can be used to get interested customers in the store as they walk by. This can prove to be highly effective especially with a provided incentive with contextual deals.
Shopping apps can be used to check ratings and reviews while in store. Take it one step further by including augmented reality to check virtual fitting for apparel items like in H&M’s current campaign.
Campaigns need to be entertaining and provide value. Use bar codes or rich media messaging (RMM) texting in-store to increase customer engagement and drive more sales. Avenue, a popular fashion retailer for women, recently used an in-store texting campaign to build an opt-in list and generate additional sales.
Social is important to keep the conversation connected and capture user-generated preferences.
As consumers, we are now used to personalization online, it is only a matter of time before mobile makes it possible to extend this into our in-store shopping experience. Savvy retailers are going to extend the boundaries, and get smarter on how to cater to our needs. It remains to be seen which retailer will fully embrace this model first and capitalize on the results.
Cezar Kolodziej is president, CEO, and co-founder at Iris Mobile.