Omnichannel retail experiences: Personalization across in-store and online channels
Connecting online and offline customer data is key for retailers to provide exceptional, personalized shopping experiences. Technology solutions that provide real-time data access and mobile connectivity for sales employees is just one tactic for creating omnichannel retail experiences—read on to learn more.
The online experience plays an important role in the decisions shoppers make offline – and the influence of digital on the in-store experience is only going to grow. In fact, by 2022, Forrester expects the internet to influence 41% of in-store sales during customers’ purchase journey.
As the importance of digital channels increases, retailers are looking to provide better experiences that keep shoppers returning to physical stores. Many are finding that personalization can do just that. In another report, Forrester found that 72% of retailers say personalization is their top priority for improving their in-store customer experience.
Yet personalizing the customer journey – one that spans online and offline channels – has long been a struggle for retailers. Most retailers keep their online and offline activities separate; they’re managed by different teams leveraging separate systems with siloed data. As a result, most retailers struggle to combine data sources to create a clear picture of each customer’s up-to-the-minute activity and affinities. This clear picture is absolutely essential to delivering consistent, relevant experiences across channels.
For example, let’s say a shopper is researching a specific shirt on a retailer’s website. Later, the shopper visits the physical store to try the shirt on, ultimately deciding to purchase it. If the online and offline channels are kept separate, that customer could be recommended the same shirt on the website or in abandonment emails later – frustrating the customer and making the retailer look uncoordinated. It’s important to address this omnichannel gap by bringing the channels together.
How can you deliver omnichannel retail experiences?
Evergage, Sophelle and One Step Retail Solutions have partnered to help retailers deliver personalized experiences across channels. The partnership allows marketers to leverage Evergage’s real-time customer data and personalization platform, in-store and online data integrated by One Step Retail Solutions, and Sophelle’s personalization strategy and empowerment services.
This partnership helps retailers in three main areas:
1. Using in-store/offline data to build customer profiles in real time
Good data is at the core of any great personalized experience. But shoppers don’t typically interact with retailers solely in one channel, so siloed data results in siloed knowledge of each individual. Connecting online and offline data creates a clearer picture – for the entire retail organization – of who the shopper is, what her interests are, and what she’s looking for. This information can and should be used to provide tailored experiences for her in any channel.
For example, if a shopper spends a lot of time engaging with a shirt online (as in the example I mentioned earlier), you can assume that she is interested in that shirt. But once she purchases the shirt in a store, it no longer makes sense to include the item in future promotions to her. Connecting online and offline means passing the knowledge that she purchased the shirt in the store to the shopper’s unique, unified customer profile that is used for cross-channel personalization. From that moment forward, any recommendation on the site, in email, in-app or in ads should no longer feature that product.
2. Helping in-store associates better understand the customer to provide more personalized services
Tying online and offline behavior together can also help store associates provide better in-person service because it gives them access to more information about the shopper. For example, in-store associates with tablets can access all the information that is stored in the shopper’s profile (if the shopper provides an identifier like an email or phone number) such as preferences for a category, style, brand, color or price point, as well as any past purchases. That information can help the associate provide better suggestions while the shopper is physically in the store.
The cashier can be better informed about the shopper at checkout as well and take action in the moment. For example, if a customer bought $100 of merchandise online yesterday and bought $50 of merchandise in the store today, the cashier will have access to the most up-to-date information to know that she now qualifies to receive the promotional item that is being given to shoppers who spend at least $150 within a certain time period. In a siloed data environment, it could take several days for the information to sync between multiple systems, resulting in a sub-optimal experience for the shopper and a missed opportunity to surprise and delight her at checkout.
3. Using POS information to trigger experiences for deeper future engagement
In-store purchases can also be used as a trigger for online activities. For example, if a person purchases in the store, the retailer can send him an email receipt containing individualized recommendations of products that pair with the item he just purchased. Or an email can be triggered a few days later to suggest other items he may like, based on his recent shopping or purchasing behavior.
The same type of experience can apply to returns. If a shopper returns an item to the store, an email can be sent to him suggesting other items he might like instead. This approach can help the retailer drive more engagement from a shopper whose business it would have otherwise lost.
Delivering personalized shopping experiences across channels is critical for today’s retailer. Outlined in this blog post are just three examples of what can be accomplished when in-store and online experiences are in sync.