Personalisation has been a much talked about theme in retail in recent years and continues to be the stated aim of marketing and ecommerce professionals. But huge volumes of customer data and a lack of expertise in insight and analytics is leading many retailers to fall at the first hurdle, warns leading global customer experience outsourcer, Webhelp.
Personalisation is so much more than simply addressing your customer by name in marketing materials, and yet for 61% of companies covered by a 2015 Experian report, this sort of limited data is all they use. Perhaps even more surprising is that the report revealed 30% of companies are not attempting to personalise at all.
This leaves only 9% of companies at the other end of the scale and personalising using insights such as attitudinal data.
We operate in a world where a surplus of choice, coupled with increasing ease of comparing offers, means customer loyalty is more difficult than ever to generate. And that is a growing problem.
According to Daymon: The Next World: How Millennials Will Shape Retail, published in June this year, only 29% of millennials say they usually buy the same brand, while 26% are likely to buy “whatever brand they feel like at the time”. When you put that together with the fact that there are 13.8m millennials in the UK according to a report published in The Guardian in March this year, this presents a huge opportunity to increase customer loyalty that brands are missing out on.
So why are so few companies getting involved in personalisation to any real degree?
There have been concerns around personalisation and the use of data being too intrusive. However, recent studies show that 87% of customers are happy for brands to use their data to personalise their experience, so long as it makes things more relevant to them or if it’s from a company they have recently purchased from. If brands stay on the cool rather than creepy side of personalisation they have nothing to fear on this score.
Perhaps the real barrier for companies is the staggering amount of data and seemingly endless choices of what to do with it. A report published in July 2016 by Daisy Corporate Services stated that 48% of retailers find volumes of customer data overwhelming when it comes to analytics enhancements.
Shop Direct is a leading online retailer that has been focussing very heavily on personalisation in recent years. Webhelp has been working with them since August 2015 and has used customer behaviour analysis, contact dis-positioning and sentiment analysis to generate insight that has helped us to meet our agreed increased self-service, reduced voice contact and reduced cost targets ahead of schedule.
Personalisation is one area which has contributed to Shop Direct returning a massive increase in profit this year of more than 40%. It remains a key focus for Shop Direct and one they are committing ever more resources to.
Webhelp is investing a seven figure sum annually to keep abreast of the new technology and opportunities that exist for brands through personalisation. Potentially the most exciting opportunity in the near future is the use of artificial intelligence. Webhelp is focussing significant resources in this area to ensure we can offer our clients an integrated human and bot solution that will deliver the benefits of personalisation without the drawbacks of unmonitored bot engagement.
48% of retailers are looking to invest in data and analytics over the next 12 months, according to Daisy Corporate Services, but how many of them will get it right and deliver real value to their customers and their bottom line. Using data and insight to work out what customers want will ensure the ability to carefully tread the thin line between cool and creepy successfully. Analytics and a clear focus on outcomes will shine a light through the forest of information and allow the ability to prioritise where to focus resources.
Personalisation is a key battleground in the war for customer loyalty. It is one which many retailers are talking about but very few are using to its full potential. Retailers may talk about personalisation but how many are really ready to get personal?