Mass personalisation on the high street – adapt or die

| July 24, 2017 | By

Enhancing the personalised experience for customers is vital to bricks and mortar survival, says Yoyo’s head of product, Dom Povey. He reveals five ways retailers can introduce mass personalisation to the high street.

Online mass personalisation is now a part of our everyday lives – whether it’s checking newsfeeds, choosing a movie to watch or deciding what clothes to buy. But when it comes to high street retail, a personalised experience is virtually nowhere to be seen.

When out shopping, everyone likes the feeling of being treated with special care and attention, and good service is often the main reason a customer makes a return visit.

The local shop of old springs to mind – when the shopkeeper knew your parents by name and kept the products they liked aside for them. It may not have been the cheapest or had the biggest range of items, but there was a mutual sense of loyalty – we all favour the “personal touch”.

Nowadays, when visiting your regular high street supermarket after work to buy dinner, the experience is somewhat different. Depending on the scale of the outlet you visit, there could literally be hundreds of other people there doing the exact same thing as you.

Apart from picking up the things you want to buy, and perhaps randomly spotting something that takes your fancy, your only point of contact with the store will be at the checkout, which will either be a person you vaguely recognise (at best!) scanning your items or a machine that barks at you if you haven’t put them in the bagging area correctly.

Either way, you pay for your goods and leave. A necessity? Yes. A rewarding experience? No.

Not long ago, customers passively accepted this high street experience. These days, some large-scale retailers claim to serve “millions and millions” of customers each and every week. Some of these have taken steps to enhance the personal experience for customers, but it is non-existent in the vast majority of high street shops.

But…a rewarding retail experience at scale has been online for ages!

Consumers are regularly exposed to a personalised experience when shopping online, reading news on social, listening to music or surfing through Netflix or Youtube, with many online platforms having long since harnessed the data their users choose to make available to them.

Globally, ASOS has 12.4 million active customers, Spotify has over 50 million subscribers and Netflix has more than 98.75 million paying streamers. Yet they are able to deliver loyalty offers or recommendations that are personalised to each and every individual based on how that individual behaves on their platform.

Unlike their digital rivals, many high street retailers still have customers who are partially or entirely anonymous to them. It seems the moment customers look away from their smartphone/tablet/desktop and walk down the high street, they become strangers again.

Countless high street loyalty cards have been launched to combat this issue, but they lack personalised customer engagement and, with the advent of mobile payment, their delivery methods are fast becoming dated.

Before we go on, some food for thought – According to Econsultancy, 40% of consumers buy more from retailers who personalise the shopping experience. What’s more, 41% use their mobile to seek out offers and deals whilst out shopping, says Retail Week.

For many retailers, the idea of converting the personalised online experience into a seamless proposition for the high street sounds complex and daunting.

But in reality, there is no hidden magic to creating a personalised experience for each and every high street shopper. What’s more, enhancing the customer experience is a key component to revitalising the high street.  

Below are five initial steps that retailers can take to introduce mass personalisation to the high street:

1. Collect preference and behavioral information

Mass personalisation is made possible through the collection of preference and behavioural data. If you want to deliver a personalised experience you will need to ask your customers for their preferences and learn from their purchasing behaviours.  

2. Clearly convey the benefit you will deliver to customers in return

Your customers are not going to share their preference and behavioral information with you unless they clearly understand how it will improve their experience. Don’t be fooled by the concept of tech savvy Millennials who are happy to share their data. They are happy to share their data when they believe there is value in doing so and are quick to work out when it’s not.

3. Deliver a relevant experience

Once a customer has decided to trust you with their data, make sure you deliver the value you promised quickly and consistently. If you promote a “personalised” offer that is not actually relevant to a customer who has chosen to share their data with you then you will damage your brand. Remember, customers are not just used to receiving a personalised experience, they expect it.

4. Bridge the gap between any existing online experience

When a customer interacts with your brand, their experience should be consistently personal, no matter where that interaction takes place. Retailers should look to combine their online and offline experiences to ensure that an online customer is visible in store and vice versa. It is also important to ensure that any loyalty rewards are earned and usable across both environments.

5. Prioritise mobile

E-commerce changed retail forever, transforming customer expectations around convenience, choice, price and relevance. At Yoyo, we believe that mobile is bricks and mortar’s answer to unlocking the level of customer understanding that online retailers have enjoyed for years.

According to Deloitte, over 80% of people now own a mobile device. In a study, Retail Week found that over 65% of people use their mobile device when out shopping and over 40% were using to seek out deals and offers. Mobile is a customer’s personal highstreet and a direct marketing channel for retailers.

Dom Povey is head of product at Yoyo Wallet. With a passion for delivering the advantages of digital marketing to bricks and mortar retail, Dom has been a product manager for over six years, managing products across web, iOS and Android.

He started his career in digital marketing and has first-hand experience of building targeted marketing campaigns, end-to-end analytics and measurable outcomes.