There’s a definite gap between where retailers would like to be in terms of customized service capabilities, and where they are now. According to Gartner, less than 10% of Tier 1 organizations believe they have an effective personalization strategy, and a third admit they cannot properly support personal retail efforts.

Given that Tier 1 retailers tend to have more resources to build personalization strategies, it’s safe to say that Tier 2 and 3 businesses may be even further behind in their tailoring of customer experiences.

One of the main problems retailers are experiencing to date is the ability to convert shopper data into meaningful moments. Online and in-store, they are able to gather detailed information on each shopper, which theoretically they should be able to convert that into a relevant, personalized customer experience. But that’s not always the case.

So, how do retailers take the wealth of customer information available to them, and use it to put the person into personalization? Here are some basic steps they should be looking to take:

  1. Make data a real-time customer service feature

There is a value to shaping marketing strategies through previous purchase analysis, but the most effective way to utilize big data in the moment. Particularly in the store, retailers should be looking to implement technology like mobile Point of Sale (mPOS), in order to incorporate customer information into every interaction.

By bringing a rich data profile into store customer service, associates can suggest complimentary products that they know will resonate with shoppers, to increase average order values at the same time as enhancing the customer’s sense of value. Take service to the customer, not the other way around

Personalization has two parts to it. The first part, which we’ve already touched on, is tailoring service to the customer’s individual needs. The second part is physically building encounters around them.

No matter how customized the experience shoppers receive, if they then have to search the store for a checkout, and queue for a long time to complete their transaction, it’s going to ruin their overall satisfaction.

Again, mPOS is a powerful tool here, as it enables store associates to answer questions, upsell, cross-sell, order, check stock, and process payments from anywhere in the store – bringing the point of sale to the customer, rather than the other way around.

  1. Make loyalty feel individual

Personalization is far more than tailoring an individual moment to each shopper’s needs; it is an opportunity to build a meaningful relationship in which the customer is rewarded for their total lifetime value.

Loyalty schemes need to reflect the one-to-one worth of every shopper, and stores in particular are not delivering this yet. Retailers need to move towards omnichannel loyalty programs that incentivize shoppers based on their transactions in all channels.

More than that, schemes need to make rewards more than points collection. Retailers need to incorporate genuine money can’t buy experiences, such as preview collections and concierge-style benefits. This is something that luxury brands already do extremely well, as our partner, Venistar, discussed at its recent FashionAble World event

In each of the three areas we discussed today, the key to delivering proper personalization is flexibility – and this is only achievable by providing the right data to the right person, at the moment. Retail technology is the uniting force between what shoppers want and what front-line staff can deliver. The sooner retailers increase their investment in the tools needed to bring these two worlds together, the quicker they will truly be able to put the person in personalization.

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