*This post was originally published by Booodl CEO & Co-Founder, George Freney, on LinkedIn.
It’s widely accepted now that a one-size-fits-all approach to retail doesn’t work. Savvy shoppers get a personalised experience online – think retargeting, virtual assistants, product recommendations and other content that is a direct reflection of their online shopping behaviour and past purchase history. They expect that same level of personalisation in-store. In fact, they demand it.
The hype was all about e-commerce and now it’s about me-commerce; using data to know your customers and craft delightful shopping experiences around those insights.
The opportunity is certainly there: almost every customer has a smartphone in their pocket and probably already encountered your brand and products online. Furthermore, there is the increase of shoppers ‘webrooming’ (browsing online and buying in-store). But how to utilise and cross reference for in-store activities – that’s the big question. To make it more complex, there is no such thing as a straight purchase path anymore. It’s not uncommon for a shopper to research on their desktop, continue on their mobile device, and then complete the purchase in a physical store.
Established companies and start-ups alike are tackling this area and I expect to see some great innovations surfacing in 2016. That expectation is backed up by Gartner who reported that 89 percent of marketing leaders expect customer experience to be the key differentiator in retail by 2017.
At Booodl we’re looking at part of the problem by empowering physical retail stores with the tools to get discovered and know who is shopping in the area (and what products they want). A store can also chat with a customer prior to them arriving, so they can tailor the in-store customer service. For example, if a Booodl shopper outreaches to a nearby store and requests further info on a specific pair of shoes, by the time they get to the store the shop assistant could have the shoes ready for try-on, along with a great complimentary product.
There have been multiple innovative in-store solutions: Facebook with their beacons last year (why I don’t think that will work here) and Apple a couple years earlier with their iBeacon. Then there is Google’s Eddystone, which will eventually integrate into Google Maps. From a retail perspective, Eddystone will provide more crowd-sourced data on customers and highly detailed knowledge about the movements of specific shoppers around aisles. But there’s an obvious downside for shoppers: Google knows where you are, where you were and where you’re going next. Creepy.
It’s powerful for retailers though: a shopper who spent time in a certain area of a store can be picked up by beacons, cross-referenced with store layout data that reveals the product they were interested in, and will then likely receive a special online offer on the product they were looking at. That tactic is targeted at those ‘showrooming’ (the opposite of webrooming) where the customer intends to buy online. Interestingly, it’s far fewer people than you would expect, with the majority purchasing in-store.
Data is at the centre of creating these personalised experiences. It’s well and truly there for online marketing, but increasingly retailers are coming to understand its value in the physical retail world. They’re eager to create smooth and engaging shopping experiences that are personal and meaningful.
This is a trend set to dominate retail in 2016. What is your store doing to prepare?
Retailers can sign up to Booodl, the platform to help stores get discovered, for free at www.booodl.com/retail.