Words by Gary Ingram, CEO, TheDiamondStore.co.uk
Christmas, our peak selling season, is looming. With new consumer classes on the rise, individualised customer communications have never been as important. The questions is, how can we maximise the benefits of personalised marketing? Not just for peak season profits, but in order to retain customers in 2020?
Personalisation has long been a priority for the retail industry. Strategic use of data allows us to meet consumers more frequently during their shopping journeys, engage with them over longer periods of time than before and, ultimately, turn them into repeat customers. If you need proof, the PwC Retail Outlook 2019 report revealed that 35% of Amazon’s sales come from personalised recommendations.
Today’s consumers shop anywhere, anytime, moving effortlessly from high street to mobile. There is plenty of competition on- and offline, and the modern shopper is busy and impatient (even more so pre-Christmas). She or he will simply move on, if the retailer fails to be there for them at the right time.
As consumers become more demanding, we must anticipate their every move. It’s all about delivering a personalised message when a visitor enters your store, be it physically or online. It’s also critical to get customer data at this point, so you can follow up with advertising and retargeting when they log onto their social media. Finally, you must be there again with individualised recommendations when the shopper returns to your website.
The key to unlocking personalisation is data. Collecting it is relatively simple, but to get the most out of it, we must ask questions. Which channels do your customers arrive from? Do they already have an account? Do they value fast delivery above all, or are they looking for ethical products? Do they spend from their savings, pay by credit card or Apple Pay, or do they take out personal finance?
When we answer questions like these, we can anticipate behaviour, rather than react to it. Strategic thinking is the essence of true personalisation.
There’s no doubt that personalising customer experience is an intricate task. To add to this complexity, the last few years have seen the emergence of brand new, and often baffling, consumer classes. The Millennials, for instance, have entirely different value drivers from their Boomer parents. They had us all bewildered for a while, until we understood what motivates them.
Another example is the ‘hybrid Gen X consumer’ who defies convention by spending on both budget and premium products. Traditionally, shoppers spent either in the upper or lower end of the market based on their income. Now they’re happy to mix it up, and our product lines and advertising campaigns have to reflect that.
Interestingly, according to the Deloitte UK report, Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2019, there is yet another ‘new consumer class that is rising… and is going to become increasingly relevant in the future: the HENRYs (High-Earners-Not–Rich-Yet)’. According to the report, ‘HENRYs are digital savvy, love online shopping and are big spenders’. Something worth keeping a close eye on.
Based on all this, there are three things I would strongly recommend retailers invest time in for a successful Christmas season. Firstly, we know that UK consumers shop on their phones, so mobile optimisation is critical. Secondly, social media is a key playing field, maybe not so much for direct sales but definitely for brand experience, advertising and retargeting. Finally, email is still as big as ever, but it has to be done in a more intelligent way than before; AI or at least automation are vital.
The good news? Today’s customers not only understand but value digital personalisation. SalesForce research found that more than half of UK consumers are happy to share personal data in return for individualised product or service recommendations and offers. In short, this year’s Christmas shoppers will be embracing personalisation. Therefore, so must we.