There was no bigger buzz word in retail than personalisation last year and this will not only continue in 2018 – it will accelerate.
In fact, retailers will invest more in personalisation this year than any other area of retail in 2018, according to new research from Forrester.
Personalisation and customisation, however, may mean many things for retailers today. For the consumer, it means the ability to make changes and have products tailored to their needs. This sort of customisation manifests itself in technologies like Mon Purse’s proprietary 3D bag builder, Nike ID and Audi Configurator, but it can also mean something as simple as a retailer offering free alterations.
And for retailers, it’s important to note that personalisation is more than sending targeted emails to consumers – it’s about the complete shopping experience.
Retailers now have a significant amount data that will power artificial intelligence and deliver more personalised, customised and localised shopping experiences to customers that have the ability to surprise and delight. Even more importantly, customers today are willing to share their personal information with companies in exchange for more valuable and richer experiences.
Brendan Witcher, principal analyst at Forrester Research, says that personalisation now is no longer just about predictive technology, explaining that it has evolved from personalisation to individualisation. The Starbucks app, Sephora’s beauty stations and Lowe’s Holoroom are good examples of this.
Last year Starbucks launched its personalised rewards program and payment app that enables it to push certain incentives and products to customers based on what it already knows about them, and each Starbucks customer will receive different offers via the app and unique emails based on their buying history.
Via the app, Starbucks knows exactly what a customer buys and when they buy it – the app can prompt customers to add food to their order and may even sweeten the deal by offering extra points (or stars) if they purchase a pastry.
“We can now use stars as incentives for personalised behaviours,” said Starbucks’ global chief strategy officer, Matt Ryan, at the company’s investor day prior to launching the app.
In 2018, retailers will begin investing in personalisation for the physical store as well, and not just online. According to Forrester Research, personalisation has been specified as the number one investment by retailers, with 2018 marking the first time survey respondents indicated their plans to extend personalisation to physical stores.
US-based home improvement retailer Lowe’s started its new store-based personalised concept last year – Holoroom How To. Following research that showed some customers don’t have the confidence or skillset to embark on their own do-it-yourself projects, the retailer started running a proof-of-concept program at its Miami store called Holoroom How To, which is a virtual reality skills workshop to assist customers in their DIY projects.
Holoroom How To enables customers visiting the store to use a virtual reality headset and controllers in each hand to immerse them in their specific DIY project. For example, retiling the bathroom – customers will receive a step-by-step guide on the how-to, which includes life-like experience features like haptic feedback such as feeling the drill vibration through the controller. It allows consumers to skip the testing phase of their DIY project and enables them with the experiences and the skillset to kick start and motivate the process.