How does hyper-personalisation differ from personalisation which has ruled the retail market for years? The former leverages transactional and behavioural data and AI systems to foresee consumer needs more precisely, to reach out with a bespoke and personalised offer, and to deepen existing brand-customer relationships and build new ones. Although hyper-personalisation-based solutions in marketing strategies were initially intended for online shopping, this trend is now opening up new opportunities in multichannel retail. Experts of global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield point out the growing role of such solutions for shopping centre retailers in an increasingly competitive market environment.
Consider a popular online example that illustrates why it is not enough to use personalisation for effective selling today: a company relying on a division into traditional shopping personas and on demographics offers exactly the same product to both King Charles and Ozzy Osbourne. The two men were born in England in 1948, are wealthy, have children, have married and re-married, like dogs and spend holidays in the Alps… And it is very likely that the identical offer will not meet the needs of both. However, if the same company collects and appropriately processes data about the shopping habits and preferences of both men, it can create a personalised offer tailored to their needs.
As retail market competition intensifies and offline and online channels are becoming ever more integrated to create a shopping experience, companies are vying to maintain and deepen relationships with customers.
“Companies that have mastered the art of hyper-personalisation include such giants as Amazon, Starbucks and Netflix. However, a vast majority of market retailers should consider implementing their own strategies in this area. Customers have come to expect brands to use data on their shopping preferences to understand and reflect their needs, and to deliver a more individualised experience. By ignoring hyper-personalisation, brands risk not only impacting returns on advertising investment but also reducing customer loyalty or losing customers to competitors,” comments Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz, Head of Asset Marketing, Cushman & Wakefield.
Collection and integration of appropriate data across sales channels is key to building hyper-personalisation mechanisms. Well-tailored loyalty or discount programmes allow a company to gain an understanding of a customer both in the online and offline realm.
“Data about the number, frequency and volumes of purchase transactions will be of little use if it is not linked to a person who has just come up to a cash desk in a shopping centre store. This is why it is so important to promote loyalty programmes, to offer customers rewards, for instance for regular shopping, and to focus on training sales staff on how to attract new ‘club members’ for a brand,” says Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.
How do brands leverage hyper-personalisation in brick-and-mortar stores?
Data analysis and smart data processing systems will enable, for instance, a distributor of car accessories and parts to anticipate when to include an offer of the right kind of motor oil in notifications sent to those on its customer mailing list, and a cosmetics company to gently inform a customer about the upcoming expiry date of the night cream she bought a few months earlier and to offer a discount for more products from the same range.
While detailed customer-specific data and past purchase history allow an e-retailer to display a personalised offer, change the prices of selected items to encourage a purchase, etc., a brick-and-mortar retailer fully relies on the knowledge and engagement of shop assistants who need to be empowered with relevant information and tools to make a customer feel that a retailer knows and cares about him or her.
“There are already some good examples of such processes taking place on the market. For example, retailers offering coffee pods and coffee pod machines are able to remind a customer when a machine needs cleaning and to offer a descaling kit at the right time based on data about the customer’s purchasing frequency collected as part of a loyalty programme. A shop assistant in a store with electronics and household appliances can recommend to a returning customer who previously bought a games console new add-ons or a newly-released game at the check-out,” adds Sylwia Wiszowata-Łazarz.
More social- or e-commerce only?
Social commerce is another trend based on personalisation that has been gaining momentum in the retail market – it transforms the way consumers discover, share and purchase products. By blending social media and e-commerce, social commerce enables companies to build customer relationships, reach new audiences and increase sales conversions. This marks another step in building a brand presence on such platforms as Instagram, Facebook or TikTok – they are already a source of shopping inspiration. Retailers use such platforms to present products, gain customer trust through reviews and recommendations, and enable shopping on social media sites. Not only does social commerce create a personalised shopping experience, but it also fosters bonding and drives customer loyalty. This trend is expected to gain traction not only among pure-play brands but also among omnichannel retailers.