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Personalisation of the entire customer experience

Personalisation is a hot topic. New technologies keep emerging that enable retailers to personalise the experience customers have when they’re shopping online or in the physical store, based on consumer preferences and past behaviour.

Should it be just about the personalisation of the in-store experience?

The way retailers are approaching personalisation doesn’t surprise me. It’s highly tactical, like the way most retailers operate. They see that technologies exist and that they provide a solution to the general requirement to be more relevant to customers. So many retailers will buy up these technologies, 'switch them on' and then move on to the next job.

By definition, to personalise is to design or tailor (something) to meet someone’s individual specifications, needs, or preferences. Should that ‘something’ just include what the customer experiences when they're in buying mode? We argue that it shouldn’t be.

The broader Personalisation strategy

If retailers are to succeed they need to develop a broader personalisation strategy, which considers the entire customer journey. Customers go through a number of interactions with retailers pre- and post-purchase. All these interactions have an effect on how the customer regards the retailer; the degree to which they trust that retailer and feel listened to. This has a massive effect on whether they're likely to refer that retailer to friends or more importantly, whether they'll repeat purchase.

Competition is fierce in today’s retail market. The customer has so much choice of where to shop, but also what to buy when they’re in-store. A broader personalisation strategy will recognise this and become a key way of differentiating in the crowded marketplace.

So retailers should start, not by procuring off the shelf technology solutions, but by building a detailed vision. This vision shouldn’t just be a mission statement, but a thoroughly thought through depiction of the customer experience across all touchpoints.

It’s this vision and the strategic plan for delivering it, which should dictate what technology to procure. Perhaps more importantly, it should also dictate what customer data needs to be captured in order to deliver a personalised service back.

by Will Young