Let’s talk personalization – or at least, what the industry is saying about it.

There are a number of major events coming up over the next few weeks, from which iVend will be sharing key insights from, starting with Retail Week’s Tech & Ecomm Conference

One of the most interesting discussions was led by ao.com founder, John Roberts, discussing whether shopper marketing really is personalized. Roberts believes that too many retailers base their retention strategy on making consumers buy more, rather than showing loyal customers that they’re thinking about them between purchases.

Although he was discussing online shopping, this is just as true within the store environment. The growth of technology to support the bricks-and-mortar experience has created new ways for retailers to drive up customer value, however we must not forget that selling is not its only job.

Take mobile POS as an example. Yes, it can link to the product catalogue to enable cross-selling and up-selling. However, it can also be used to enrich the customer’s purchasing journey. From video footage of an item in action to ‘on the spot’ promotions rewarding continued loyalty, agile technology empowers sales associates to tailor encounters around exactly what the customer wants or needs.

Equally, online, content-rich ecommerce solutions can create deeper and more satisfying customer engagement, particularly if the site is optimized for multiple devices.

The beauty of retail technology is that it empowers retailers to synchronize activities across all channels, and to automate many of the time-consuming processes that stand between them and the customer. Not only that, key decision makers can analyze the data it generates to assess key metrics such as average basket sizes and customer lifetime value.

There is always a danger that, in a bid to become better targeted, businesses are forgetting the person in personalization. When a customer comes into a store or visits a website, they may well be coaxed into spending more by a well-targeted offer. However, they’ve probably arrived with a number of further questions and requirements that they want answered before committing to anything.

Equally, when they leave after purchase, they will be incorporating that product into their daily life – creating a relationship with it. Their brand experience continues to develop. Therefore, what retailers need to be focusing on is using technology as an enabler of better customer experiences; not as a shortcut for selling more stuff.

To return to Retail Week’s conference, John Roberts concluded by warning retailers not to invest in ‘technology for technology’s sake’, instead focusing investment on solutions that join the dots between what customers want and what they, the retailer, can deliver.

We not only agree with this sentiment – we would take it one step further. Retailers should be investing in technology for the customer’s sake, and that means designing a strategy around its implementation and usage, to nurture stronger, more loyal long-term shopper relationships.

That doesn’t always mean selling to the customer. It means looking after their needs, personally.

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