Omnichannel Personalization Means Mobile First, and This Time We Mean It!
Can a better user experience disrupt an industry? I don’t mean digital-only experiences like Angry Birds or FarmVille, but industries with physical assets and high marginal costs like taxis and 200,000 square foot stores. Uber and Amazon are proving that user experience disrupts. Amazon accounted for 24% of all U.S. retail growth last year and taxi license values have dropped 28% since Uber launched. Increasingly, our clients are telling us that their customers compare their user experience’s to that of Uber and Amazon — not Kohl’s to Target, Nordstrom to Saks, Williams Sonoma to Crate & Barrel, or Sam’s Club to Costco. Today, your competition, especially in user experience, has no bounds. Vertical silos no longer apply, you’re competing against whomever has created the most innovative and user-centric experience.
Google predicted this six years ago and has consistently repeated the warning ever since, however, few retailers responded. It’s difficult to head this kind of warning when ecommerce is growing at 30% year-over-year and there’s no pain in sight, but this year the pain arrived. So what can retailers do?
One of our luxe department store clients conducted a study a year ago to determine what their clients wanted in their user experience. They were considering everything from pop-up stores, in-home trunk shows to tablet apps. The response was oddly simple and overwhelmingly clear: whatever you do make sure it works on the shopper’s 5 inch smartphone screen and equip in-store sales associate’s with tablets rich with useful information. They were a bit surprised. Women standing in a gorgeous multi-story luxury department store would want rich, personalized information on their 5” screen? Overwhelmingly, yes. And when she was talking face-to-face with a high-paid, well-trained sales associate she wanted the associate to have the same personalized information so they could share it on an 8” screen? Yes again!
Like most mega-trends, it’s not surprising in retrospect. After all this is the generation that publishes their lives across social media, invented the selfie, and stares at their beloved 5” screen every chance they get. Although we’ve heard it time and time again, we’ve now been told that mobile dominates, plain and simple.
So with mobile applications in mind, here are the low-hanging fruit we’re seeing our retail clients go after:
Offline sales: Add store and contact center sales transactions to your web and mobile app customer profiles. Transactional data is relatively small. It only takes four minutes to upload Cyber Monday sales for a huge retailer such as Macy’s.
In-store mode for customers’ mobile app: Stores are information rich environments, but so are smartphone apps, so get them working together. JCPenney, L.L.Bean, Patagonia and many others are doing just this. Start with something as simple as letting customers scan an item’s barcode and retrieve real time prices, inventory, accessory recommendations, other product recommendations and even editorial content. Standing in front of a 4 foot hunk of plastic is useful, but so is watching an awesome video on how to use it; feeling the fabric of a dress is experiential, but so is seeing how it was fitted and flowed on the runway. If your customers like scanning items then add more proactive service features such as passively detecting location with beacons and then streaming personalized recommendations and content as they move about the store.
Sales associate app: Monsoon was our first client to add personalization to sales associate tablets. After extensive testing, they rolled it out to 325 stores, saw a 130% increase in average order value for customers served with the app compared to customers who were not. Customers loved the app, 84% of customers gave it an excellent rating and they purchased 1.3x more merchandise. Since then Barneys New York, Ann Taylor and others have rolled out similar sales associate apps.
In-store browse abandonment emails: If 80% of a retailer’s sales are in-store and only 25% of store customers use the apps described above, then that will generate as much customer-level data as their website, doubling the behavioral info available for driving personalization. One obvious and high ROI use case is browse abandonment (retargeting) emails following store visits that did not result in a sale.
There are a myriad of ways to create impactful customer experiences across channels, and if it hasn’t become evident, now is the time. There is no one size fits all for omnichannel personalization, after all that would be counter intuitive. If you’re interested in learning more watch my webinar on How to Utilize Your Customer Experience to Disrupt your Market or feel free to reach out to me at DBryan at RichRelevance.com to start sketching a personalization roadmap that best represents your brand, channels, tech stack, budget, and ROI goals.