Can you remember what making every customer feel unique used to mean? – make eye contact, smile, approach (if they looked like they might need assistance) and ask if there is anything they need help with… The tools were so limited to engage the shopper that you actually had to get by with a friendly face and a bit of charm.
These days there are ways to engage the shopper that will immediately resonate; ways that don’t include throwing thousands of items at them in supposedly visually arresting displays or for the online shopper to have to scroll through pages of poorly photographed products where you can’t tell a navy from a black.
I came across one such example when I was wading through reams of baby photos and life changing sunsets on Facebook when I saw a sponsored ad. It was a hooded top with a logo saying “it’s a Heller thing… you wouldn’t understand”. My surname… on a top. I wasn’t particularly interested in the product or the slogan but despite that it was the first Facebook ad I ever clicked on. I got hooked by the personalisation.
Going up a gear online retailers are now able to personalise their website’s homepage for individual shoppers so that you will see your favourite brands and offers that are tailored to how you shop. This personalisation is driven from data collected from previous searches, purchases and complex demographic algorithms. Shop Direct’s Very.co.uk can manage over 3m versions of their website with differing text and offers making it easier for you to find relevant items quickly before you lose interest. That’s personalised online shopping – but it’s not personal; there’s no emotional connection.
Getting personal are companies like The Chapar who offer time poor men personal stylists who then deliver a trunk full of hand-picked clothes to your desk. The stylists are friendly, chatty and want to get to know your lifestyle and your wider interests in order to best pack the trunk with clothes that you will love. It’s a fantastic service with free delivery and returns and you only pay for what you don’t send back.
There’s personalisation of service and then there is the personalisation of product; from a personalised Burberry poncho to hand-embroidered Breton shirts from Mon Breton; luxury brands are trying to elevate their product by adding tailored touches to increase their exclusivity and engage an ever more “seen-it-all-before” customer. Find a way to connect with the customer through personalisation and they will see value in your brand.
Going back to the bigger picture, retailers that are winning are the ones that understand the importance of personalization and that are investing heavily in it. Who isn’t excited about the opportunity to pick your own deals at the supermarket, find exactly what you’re looking for on the front page of a website, get sent products that fit and you feel comfortable wearing?
The retailers that succeed will keep the customer’s attention longer, take a larger cut of their spending money and leave less for the companies that don’t understand the power of personalisation. Fingers crossed they won’t leave it too late…