Personalizing Product Selection, by Liza Amlani, Principal and Founder Retail Strategy Group -
Brand experience, Customer Experience, Retail, Retailtainment

Personalizing Product Selection, by Liza Amlani, Principal and Founder Retail Strategy Group

According to a survey by Capgemini, 64% of brick-and-mortar retail customers indicated a lack of guidance and knowledge offered by store staff as one of their top five customer experience pain points. With the increased difficulty in finding the right brand ambassadors or retail staff, many customers leave stores unhappy and empty-handed.  Even with the right frontline staff, there are many challenges in keeping them focused on high-value customer engagements. Unlabelled products or those with the wrong pricing tags are another big irritation for customers, leading to unnecessary price-checking queries, eating away at store staffs’ efficiency, their productivity, and their service. Time spent searching for the right price rather than truly engaging with the customer could result in lost sales as well as an inefficient use of third party brand ambassadors.

 

According to Forbes,“Deloitte estimates the industry is in critical need of at least one million more workers this year. But then as quickly as new employees are added, others quit.”

 

If the industry doesn’t have enough retail workers, let alone frontline store staff, how can brands and retailers expect customers to gain any depth of product knowledge to build their buying confidence and guide shopping decisions?

  • Do we have enough staff on the ground?
  • Is there signage to help customers choose the right product? How are we communicating product information?
  • Are seasonal drops and limited product ranges clearly identified?

When shoppers aren’t given enough information to develop buying confidence and are given no guidance, they will either overbuy and return unnecessary items or simply walking away without buying. Either way, it hurts the brand and retailers that aren’t helping shoppers sufficiently. Figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF) indicate that the rate of return would average 16.6% of total U.S. retail sales, totalling more than $761 billion worth of goods being returned.

“Retailers must rethink returns as a key part of their business strategy,” said Steve Prebble, CEO of Appriss Retail.

Rethinking the product journey and adding returns as part of doing business is one thing. But at such a high rate, it may not be worth it to put the products on the shelves or on the website in the first place. Processing returns cost A LOT. The question is, how do we flip the script and focus on how we can reduce the rate of return?

The Script…Flipped

  • What if we can give customer’s the deepest product knowledge and as a result, close the sale?
  • What if we can capture customer product feedback and insights during the selling process?
  • What if we can truly connect with the customer AND help them through their shopping journey?

Developing trusted and deeper connections with your customers could completely change the game. Customers would be less overwhelmed with a personalized shopping experience and assistance on demand. Better understanding a customer’s needs, their mindset, and answering their questions could fuel the most optimal product recommendations both online and in-store. Essentially, cutting the rate of returns at the source by empowering customers to make informed purchase decisions in the first place.

 

This isn’t a new concept, assisted selling is a well-established concept, but it is still a necessity in staying relevant in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace. Attracting and delighting customers will always be critical to retail success. As retailers innovate and deliver a personalized shopping experience, they will, in turn, deepen their customer connection, remove friction while shopping – it’s exactly what the customer wants and what the retailer needs. From reducing the rates of returns to the ability to feature seasonal product directives, customers would benefit and retailers would win.

 

The Importance of Data in Personalization

Customer data is crucial in making smarter decisions. Insights through data will help retailers learn about their shoppers in real-time and make better decisions based on what their shoppers want. Imagine having the ability to build deeper relationships with customers while informing product and marketing decisions – from assortment optimization to merchandising strategy to customized promotions. Not just giving the customer the right product at the right time and in the right place, but making this process easily repeatable and scalable for shoppers as their needs adapt and develop.

  • Customer insights will drive better product decisions, giving brands a clearer idea of what the customer wants and what they don’t want.
  • Customer insights will remove the guesswork in assortment planning and merchants can better predict evolving shopping behaviors.
  • Customer insights will help retailers and brands customize and hyper-localize product promotions, catering to what the customer is looking for without being intrusive.

 

The Customer Connection

Gathering insights through data and asking the right questions can remove much of the guesswork when planning the right product mix. Telling us what they like, what delights, and most importantly, what we are missing from a product mix. Product planning and merchandise assortment decisions that are driven by insights will make retailers relevant and develop a brand affinity with consumers as you meet more and more of their needs. Not only will sales increase, conversion go up, and returns reduce, but brands won’t have to work as hard to develop loyalty and can focus even more budget on gaining new customers. The secret is developing this customer connection in the first place.

Conversity Solutions

Conversity provides hyper-personalized SaaS solutions that enable authentic connections between brands and retailers and their customers.  Through the deployment of dynamic recommendation engine tech, Conversity applies their offering, both in-store and online, to help customers choose exactly the right products or services for their specific needs.  Conversity Charm is an in-store sales enablement tool that embeds on a device to give team members everything they need to serve customers and close sales at their fingertips. Alternatively, Conversity Connect is a self-serve e-commerce solution helps shoppers better navigate a website and find the perfect product for them based on their needs, mindset and budget. What if you want an omnichannel solution? Conversity Concierge is a SaaS solution that embeds on a tablet or touch screen for shoppers to interact with that helps them find the perfect product. It can then either guide the customer to purchase the recommended product in-store, or if the item isn’t available in that location, Concierge will prompt the shopper to complete the purchase via a retailers’ website.

 

Liza Amlani - Profile