Deliver on the Seamless Customer Experience Promise with a Phased Approach to Omnichannel Personalization
As retailers settle into 2016 armed with predictions for leading industry trends, one movement that dominates the space is omnichannel. While not new, fierce competition from eCommerce giants, emerging technologies, and shifting consumer behavior have outpaced omnichannel integration. This has prompted a renewed urgency to solve the omnichannel puzzle, with the ultimate goal of delivering personalized customer experiences seamlessly across channels.
Although a top priority for the past few years, as identified by Forrester Research, many businesses are still struggling with how to craft and implement a successful omnichannel strategy. With challenges around breaking down channel silos, democratizing data, choosing and funding new technologies, allocating resources and in many cases restructuring the entire corporate culture and vision, building the proper infrastructure is no easy feat. And, the infrastructure is only a piece of the puzzle.
The Multichannel Merchant 2016 Forecast and the Internet Retailing Customer Experience Research Report both state the competitive necessity for retailers to start leveraging the data they have to create more personalized omnichannel interactions that make customers feel like they are receiving a special service tailored to their needs and interests.
The good news is that a perfect infrastructure does not need to be in place to start creating these personalized and tailored experiences, and in turn position businesses to deliver them across channels. A phased approach to omnichannel personalization empowers retailers to make significant strides toward omnichannel success, while they are sorting out infrastructure requirements.
While each phase of omnichannel personalization can vary depending on objectives, resources, and where a business is in their omnichannel integration, there are some patterns for how retailers have proceeded with this approach, as outlined below:
Phases of Omnichannel Personalization
Phase 1: Web and Email Personalization
Usually, the quickest avenue to revenue, web, and email marketing personalization is easy to implement, have well-defined key performance indicators, and therefore tend to be the starting point. Implementing product recommendations that best resonate with each customer across site pages is often the main focus, with an emphasis on testing strategies for optimal conversion. Through an email address, loyalty number or other consumer identifier collected via the website, email and web channels can be easily tied together to trigger emails that dynamically deliver product recommendations tailored to individual customer preferences, based on insights gathered from web activity.
Phase 2: Targeted Content & Offers and Contextual Segments
With a solid personalized product recommendations strategy in place, businesses start looking for other ways to engage and retain customers through their personalized channels. Content, such as hero shots, videos, and blogs, and offers targeted to individual customer interests often come next. In combination with this, leveraging contextual information to segment experiences based on geography, weather and day-parting patterns become an interest, to further target content and offers, as well as add another layer to product recommendation personalization.
Phase 3: Mobile Personalization
Building on content, offers, and product recommendation tactics on the Web, implementing mobile and tablet-specific personalization strategies that leverage geography to hone the experience for on-the-go shoppers and deliver geo-targeted offers is often a big focus. Utilizing the same identifier captured for web and email will align the mobile channel, allowing data sharing within and across channels for a seamless experience.
Phase 4: In-Store Personalization
With a mobile strategy soundly in place, extending personalization in-store is a natural next step. Arming sales associates with tablets for clienteling and introducing kiosks and digital displays is the quickest way to pull personalization into brick-and-mortar locations. Capturing in-store purchase data can be a bit more difficult because POS systems are often not in sync with online channels. It comes back to referencing the same consumer identifier implemented in other channels. Once in place, the interconnection creates a seamless omnichannel personalization experience across off-line and on-line interactions.
Phase 5: Contact Center Personalization
Contact Center often comes in at this later stage, pulling online and phone-based customer service agents into the mix with a view of offers and product recommendations relevant to each customer.
Omnichannel retail continues to evolve, fueled by shifts in consumer behavior and expectations for more personalized and tailored experiences that are consistent within any and every channel a customer chooses to interact. Businesses can start delivering on this expectation by determining the channels that are most important to their customers, quickest to revenue and easiest to implement, and kicking-off a phased omnichannel personalization approach that will ultimately deliver on the seamless customer experience promise.