The shopping experience of my teenage years—hitting the malls with some friends and splurging on this season’s hottest trends, grabbing a bite to eat, and coming home with a great bargain—isn’t the “norm” anymore. Shopping on Amazon, favorite brands’ sites, social media, apps, and more digital channels is what the kids (and adults!) are up to these days. This trend has been accelerated by stay-at-home guidelines due to the pandemic.
With so many more people online, brands are doing all they can to create the best digital experiences possible. Shopping is now less about the “feeling” of a store and how helpful in-store staff is and more about how tailored the online experience is to a shopper’s needs and interests.
Personalization has made waves in the digital experiences brands offer shoppers. Nobody likes to wade through countless irrelevant ads, emails, or promotions. There are a variety of ways brands are offering personalized services to their customers.
Here are seven strategies retailers should consider to enhance the digital shopping experience for their customers and keep it fun through personalization:
1. Gather a 360-degree view of data
Brands have to become their consumers’ best friends. We likely have work friends, school friends, friends of friends, family friends, and the list goes on. Each of them might know a certain “side” of us; but perhaps our best friend from childhood knows us best as they’ve been there for every stage of life and seen all aspects of our personality. Brands need to do something similar with customers’ data. Get to know customers like a best friend by engaging with their data in every channel: email, search, mobile, app, social, events, and in-store.
2. Personalize your communication
What retailers do with the holistic data approach is paramount. They must consider these behaviors in their communications and personalize marketing communications to customers by sending only the most relevant messages. Customers only interested in hiking gear won’t want emails about other sales. But this also goes beyond topic — retailers must evaluate which channel each customer will be most likely to engage on, what time of day works best for them, and the frequency at which they prefer to receive communications.
3. Marketing in the moment
The holy grail of marketing is perfecting the time each piece of communications reaches every customer. Advertisements that aren’t brand-safe can become an unfortunate gaffe. There are times that your ads just won’t land. Brands must be cognizant of when and where their advertisements and marketing communications are going.
4. Word of mouth
There’s no greater marketing than word of mouth (WOM). Customers loving a brand so much that they tell their friends and family about it is the ultimate goal for customer acquisition. It costs nothing but has high-revenue potential. While many retailers don’t have a documented WOM strategy, they should given the ability of social chatter to quickly escalate conversations. Retailers must do all they can to protect key gateways to WOM: customer service and product quality.
5. Customized products
A product perfectly customized to a shopper’s liking is the epitome of a powerful personalized shopping experience. Retailers must consider ways to tailor products to meet customers’ desires without hurting their bottom line. Even if it’s not a fully customized product, brands can still see positive impacts from partial customizations. Levi’s recently launched its new tailor shop, a customization studio for customers to add their voice and their imprint on their clothing. These types of digital experiences are what customers love and will ensure they come back to a brand time and time again.
6. Extended services
Brands that go above and beyond for their customers are more likely to win loyalty in the long-term. Retailers who value their customers’ needs will go further. American Eagle has added perks that benefit its customers, including offering laundry services to college students and placing digital concierge iPads in dressing rooms to offer assistance. These approaches show customers retailers are willing to go above and beyond for them.
7. Loyalty reimagined
Customers want to be rewarded for their continued support. Just about every retailer offers a loyalty membership, so it’s what retailers do with the membership service that can differentiate them from the pack. In a digital world, brands must make their memberships available and easily accessible across every channel. If it’s difficult to sign in, hard to find your membership card number, or retailers poorly communicate rewards and benefits, loyalty programs will suffer. Brands can optimize their loyalty efforts by running promotions their customers care about based on the data they have.
In a digital world, a personalized experience is now the expectation of customers looking to have fun with their retail engagements—even when done from home. Just because they’re shopping online doesn’t mean consumers don’t want the white-glove service they loved from shopping in physical stores. Retailers must ensure they’re providing the best digital experiences by personalizing every customer interaction.
Check out our upcoming webinar about the new era of retail.