Digital technologies have radically changed the way retail companies operate online and in-store. And today, digital technologies will, and have, radically changed the way retailers connect with their customer base. Personalized customer content is what today’s consumers demand. According to a customer experience survey by Gartner, 81% of marketers state that they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of customer experience in two years’ time. As personalization drives customer experiences, this can’t be ignored.
Personalization technology and strategies have been around for over a decade, but marketers are finally coming to the realization that relevant, in-real-time personalization is no easy feat. Many who have tried have failed for a variety of reasons, whether due to insufficient or inaccurate customer information, disconnected experience management tools or the inability to quickly analyze data to make in-the-moment actions.
Artificial Intelligence Can Help
AI platforms and machine learning algorithms are now available to arm marketers with more accurate information about their customers, allowing them to better shape campaigns that can drive scalable results.These systemsprovide marketers with up-to-date customer preferences, as well as timeframes in which the customer is going to be the most receptive to the information.The technology is more efficient than humans at tasks such as customer segmentation, identifying relevant content and customer communication.
Taking things a step further, AI platforms allow for more relevant personalization across multiple touch points at scale. The ability of AI to process enormous amounts of data through retail optimized models not only helps marketers keep up with changing customer preferences, it also allows them to adapt to those changes in the blink of an eye.
Connect Your Channels
Simply put, customers buy when they feel like a brand understands how to make their lives better by speaking directly to their needs, which is all about relevancy and connection. By connecting a retail organization across all of its channels — online, in-store and mobile — retailers are privy to the most up-to-date information regarding customer preferences and buying history in real time.
One customer comes to mind on this point. A leading North American retailer of personalized merchandise and experiences leverages technology to connect its online and in-store experiences with an omnichannel approach. Through this connection, store associates are able to see a customer’s online activity so they can better personalize the in-store experience. This is truly an example of how a global company is utilizing technology to create a fresh and rewarding customer experience across channels.
LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2018 report showcased what can happen when marketers don’t understand their customers: 76% of buyers stated that they will not engage with a company that doesn’t understand what they are looking for. On the flip side, imagine if you visit a retailer’s online store and you are able to identify the item that you want to purchase and then also find it comes with an accompanying promotion. That type of personal experience would entice you to complete the purchase and perhaps return again.
As customers expect personalized experiences more and more, marketers must embrace platforms that provide unified solutions that are able to create relevant and meaningful experiences. And implementing emerging technologies appropriately will create better customer experiences efficiently, drive revenue and build brand loyalty.
Bob Meixner is Senior Product Strategist, Oracle Commerce Cloud, focused on omnichannel, AI-driven commerce and marketing. Meixner has been helping businesses optimize and scale their digital experiences for 13 years. He resides in New York City and when he’s not talking about digital customer experience, he can found navigating the boutique fitness studio scene.