Getting Personal at Retail’s Big Show 2015
Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of my shirt?
In this time of technology-driven self expression, personal branding, opinion sharing and life streaming, the awareness and celebration of one’s self is not only accepted; it’s rewarded. We want it specialized, optimized and personalized.
Especially personalized. Talk of the “all about me” mindset of today’s shopper buzzed across the exhibit floor at the recent NRF Retail’s Big Show 2015. The hot topic was personalization, and the show offered many glimpses of ways retailers can make the customer’s in-store experience more one-on-one.
Among the most meaningful personalization innovations we saw:
- Email with content that can “anticipate,” depending upon when the shopper opens it. Message changes are based on her location, time of day or specific interests.
- Next-generation beacon and smart display technology that revolutionizes the brand-to-consumer channel through mobile.
- Mobile payment technology that allows a shopper to check out when and how she prefers.
- Digital wallet upgrades that go beyond simple transactions and into lifestyle solutions.
- Apps that suggest products based on linking loyalty programs, personal favorites, influential consumer media and merchant suggestions.
- Food brand kiosks that streamline the ordering process and let diners really have it their way.
There is no shortage of bright ideas to improve retail personalization. And I believe many more are in the pipeline. Wonderful innovations; tools we may not have even imagined yet.
But these are just tactics.
The biggest challenge facing retailers who want to create personalized shopper experiences isn’t what to do. The real trick is finding ways to get customers to share the information that drives the interaction. To get it personalized, shoppers have to get personal. And many (especially older shoppers) are not yet fully comfortable with that.
So our strategy has to focus on redefining privacy. Retailers must make sharing personal information less painful and scary for the shopper. We are looking at affecting a major shift in the consumer mindset. Not an easy task, but vital for keeping the in-store experience relevant and well placed in the omnichannel model.
Retailers have to demonstrate that the exchange of information for a heightened shopping experience is worthwhile; that there is indeed real added value. Merchants must also prove that information sharing is low risk. Only responsible use of data, transparency in dealing with glitches and continuous demonstration of success stories can achieve this.
Trust must be built. Only then will these retail personalization innovations reach full potential.