Personalized experiences: This is the future of the retail industry, especially given the COVID-19 related emergency period we are living in. The way to personalization is through Digital Transformation. We’ll see how in this post.
After the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed one year ago, the world is no longer the same. The way we live has radically changed, how we socialize has changed, the way we work has changed, even school (with distance learning) and how we manage our free time has changed. But that’s not all.
The impact on the global economic system and on all productive sectors has been profound, even if not in a homogeneous way. In short: everything has changed.
Unfortunately, we are still in the emergency phase, although the first lights at the end of the tunnel are beginning to emerge, thanks to the efforts of the scientific community and of individuals taking responsibility. The road, however, is still long.
Yes, we are still in an emergency. But those in business, especially those on the marketing side, are called upon to look ahead. Always.
Things have changed, it’s true. But not all of the changes have been negative. This unprecedented crisis has also shown new opportunities and new occasions; it has made trends that were already moving, perhaps more quietly, emerge with even more force, making them finally explode.
We’re talking about possibilities that are all, in one way or another, connected to the larger trend of Digital Transformation.
Possibilities that are particularly rich and fruitful, especially on the marketing side. Possibilities that also, and above all, concern the world of retail, which more than other industries, has suffered a strong impact in this complicated period.
The new essentials of retail marketing
The future of retail, from the so-called “neighborhood stores” to the big chains, is all about one imperative: personalized experiences. In turn, this translates into a marketing and customer care mix that blends the “physical” and “digital” sides.
We wanted to summarize all this in a formula: proximity, reservations, and, precisely, personalization.
The new proximity is that of the so-called “Proximity Marketing.” It involves the ecosystem of smartphones and concerns the possibility of hybridizing the experience in the physical store with the creation of digital touchpoints in-store or nearby, aimed at increasingly specific targets, obtained based on geolocation data, crossed with varied data related to preferences, habits, and individual behaviors.
We’re talking about tools that are becoming more effective, more high performing, more tailored every day.
The ultimate goal is to build a new Customer Journey model that is – simultaneously – physical and digital. And one side reinforces the other.
In our previous post we focused on the different types of Proximity Marketing, the enabling technologies, the huge advantages and opportunities, and we analyzed some successful examples.
The second element is reservations.
This is something that, in these phases of emergency, has become unavoidable: it is no longer just a matter of convenience, in fact, but also of health protection and compliance with anti-crowding regulations. Even in this case, however, we are talking about a trend that will not end with the end of the emergency, but will continue to bear fruit.
For retailers, building a good reservation process, based on smart and judicious management of CRM systems, is valuable for several reasons. Sure, it’s about improving the Customer Experience…which in turn boosts retention and loyalty. But that’s not all.
In digital reservation processes there are opportunities for personalized dialog with the customer to take advantage of pre-sales opportunities, but also to implement upselling or cross-selling actions in an increasingly targeted and attractive manner.
Now it’s time to close the circle and focus on the last element, one that is probably the most important: personalization.
The importance of personalized experiences: what is personalization?
These new elements of marketing for the retail world are closely related and they have a very clear common root. Something that is very simple, but at the heart of the digital revolution: data.
But let’s take a little step back.
For as long as retail has existed, there has been one thing that is more important than all the others: addressing customers by treating them as people, as individuals, taking care of them in a targeted way, because you know their characteristics… and therefore you can anticipate their desires.
It’s an experience that we all know well: The best shopkeeper is the one who knows who you are, who knows your tastes, who is not intrusive but is able to offer you new products that meet your expectations. The best shopkeeper treats you well, also because he knows that you will come back and that you will talk about his business with your friends. The benefits, then, are mutual: they affect both the retailer and the customer; and they reinforce each other.
But how is it possible to personalize experiences in this large world of ours?
The solution once again comes from digital. It’s called personalization, and it’s what specialized companies like Doxee are all about.
We’ve already pointed out above, the starting point is that of so-called Big Data ( for the retail world we prefer to talk about “Smart Data” or “Deep Data,” because it’s not just about quantity, but above all about the quality of the information collected).
And where can we find this data? Practically everywhere.
All of us, all the time, leave a huge amount of “digital footprints” online. When we use search engines, when we use navigation systems, when we post or express preferences on social networks (and in many, many other situations). Furthermore, with Proximity Marketing and geo-targeting systems, this information is multiplying. Also, and this is even more interesting, it is becoming increasingly precise, specific, dynamic, and in real time.
So what should retailers do?
They must collect this information. You need both quantity and quality. Marketers must analyze and interpret this information in a way that is functional for their business (and here, the most advanced analytics tools, and those of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, come to the rescue).
At this point, they will have a very valuable asset in their hands: a snapshot of their customer base, both actual and potential.
Be careful, though: this is a dynamic snapshot that tracks changes in behavior and habits over time. Also, and above all, it’s a very high-resolution snapshot, where it is possible to point the magnifying glass and “zoom in.” In this way, you can segment one’s own audience into coherent clusters, and you can go even further: Aim at the individual.
It is here, finally, that the one-to-one dialog begins, the truly personalized marketing, the intimate and interactive communication between the retailer and its customer.
In short: here is the oldest secret of commerce, transported into the digital world.
But what are the most effective ways to carry out this new dialog? What are the concrete tools? In the next section, which will close this post, we will see the most cutting edge approaches that can be exploited with significant results.
Personalized microsites and personalized videos
Personalized experiences are the future. Leveraging data to personalize customers’ experiences and communicate with them in a more fluid and effective way, boosting loyalty: this is the path retailers must take to win the challenges of the future. But we promised you concreteness. Now we want to talk about two precise tools with enormous potential that Doxee makes available to companies in the retail sector.
The first is Doxee Pweb®: personalized micro-sites, designed based on the characteristics of the recipients, of their “data,” in fact. We’re talking about a real revolution in the digital Customer Journey, which is no longer based on a one-size-fits-all platform, but on highly personalized processes, built from the CRM systems of retailers, according to an omnichannel perspective.
It is almost superfluous to emphasize how effective Pweb solutions are in terms of engagement and conversion rates.
The second tool is Doxee Pvideo®: here we move to the front of personalized videos.
Once again, the perspective is that of a perfectly one-to-one, interactive, intimate dialog. A dialog made powerful and effective by exploiting the video medium which is the “king” of digital content today in terms of diffusion and communicative effectiveness.
Retailers can build videos based on the characteristics of the recipients, inserting – for example – tailor-made calls to action, pop-ups for in-depth analysis of products or services, and targeted purchase or payment options. They can do all of this interactively, thanks to the UDS (User Directed Storytelling) features, which transform the viewer into the real protagonist of the video.
Here, in conclusion, is where we make the digital revolution: using the most cutting-edge tools, we are doing something very old: putting our customers at the center, in new ways.
This is the future, which we must start building today, innovating despite the difficulties and challenges we’re currently facing.
Learn more about personalization! The webinar with guest speaker from Forrester is now available on demand, so you can watch it for free, any time!