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Adding the personal touch to brick-and-mortar stores

Adding the personal touch to brick-and-mortar stores
Tuesday December 9 2014

Retail expert Branden Jenkins discusses the need for in-store personalisation in 2015

2015 is the year retailers need to make in-store personalisation a reality, according to Branden Jenkins, general manager of global retail at NetSuite.

“By providing customers with a truly personalised shopping experience, not only will their expectations be met, but retailers will likely boost in-store product sales and improve customer loyalty,” explains Jenkins.

“Retail operations with tightly integrated ecommerce, customer relationship management (CRM), and inventory and order management systems in the cloud, will be able to target individual shoppers with offers based on their personal profile data and previous purchasing history.”

Jenkins says the move towards gaining control over and insight into all retail-related operations will be aided by cloud-based omnichannel commerce solutions. “Think of it as a marriage between a customer-centric view of a perfect order - right customer, right time, right product – and a retailer-centric view – optimal location, optimal cost, and optimal time.”

Personalisation based on store types

Jenkins first takes a look at personalisation in specialty retail stores first of all, where store associates will be equipped with tablets or other mobile devices giving them access to in-depth CRM and inventory information. 

“The store associate will be free to roam the store, no longer tied to the sales counter enabling them to engage with customers prior to a purchase as well as during the checkout process,” he outlines. 

“As a shopper enters the store, the store associate can ask to swipe their store loyalty card to identify the individual and start accessing their profile and purchase history. 

“With this information accessible to them in real time, the store associate will be empowered to recommend specific items and special offers and be able to confidently offer a range of alternative purchases and purchasing options if the particular item a customer requires is not available.”

Jenkins notes that the advent of same-day fulfilment and access to accurate delivery information will enable store associates to save a customer sale by committing to have an item available in-store or shipped direct to customer within a matter of days or even hours.

“Taking the personalisation approach one step further, clothing stores like H&M have already begun trialling a mobile phone application that a customer can use to request immediate in-store help from an assistant while shopping in the store.”

Marrying online and offline

Another approach some retailers are taking is to marry the online and offline by taking a purchase started on an ecommerce site and concluding it in the store, according to Jenkins. 

“For instance, a local clothing store looking for a competitive edge, could allow a customer to create a virtual dressing room online and stock it with items they are interested in. 

“The customer could then book an appointment in the store and when they arrive for that appointment, go straight into a dressing room that would already have the items they selected online waiting for them.

Jenkins feels that in the case of supermarkets and department stores, retailers will continue to work on increasing the sophistication of the pre or post-purchase product offers they provide to individual customers to improve the overall self-service aspect of shopping. 

“Large retail chains such as John Lewis, Tesco, and Boots will continue to tailor product offers and recommendations to appeal to individual shoppers, but with less emphasis on encouraging them to continue to buy the same products, but more about expanding their horizons to consider other products they hadn’t previously thought of,” he adds. 

“To enable this kind of personalisation, retailers will need to draw from a combination of previous purchasing history, social recommendations and wisdom of the crowd data, demographic information, and predictive analytics.”

The road to personalisation starts with a single, unified record

While it is challenging, Jenkins feels that retailers can make the journey towards delivering a truly personalised shopping experience across all channels much easier by having a single unified record for each individual customer containing both personal profile data and a full purchasing history drawn from multiple touch points including point-of-sale (POS) and ecommerce. 

“Retailers using a single cloud solution that tightly integrates ecommerce, CRM, order management and inventory and warehouse management will be well placed in the coming year to provide customers with the personalised service consumers expect,” he concludes.

Tagged as: Bricks and mortar | High Street | personalisation | in-store | loyalty | cloud | CRM | inventory | mobile | NetSuite