Mobile Personalization for the Canadian Independent
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Personalizing the mobile retail experience is one of the most necessary innovations independent retailers should embrace to excel in an ever-expanding omni-channel world. The undeniable essence of independent retail is the relationship between the specialized products and the individual. Every shopper is different from the next and mobile personalization technology has finally given small business owners the tools to embrace that individuality at every touch-point.
Nevertheless, many Canadian independent retailers aren’t focusing their attention on mobile personalization, but on price wars -- with 33% reporting that their biggest challenge is to keep prices competitive with large chains. According to The Retail Council of Canada (RCC)*, competing on price is still a key business strategy for most independents: 58% have everyday low prices, 38% run frequent promotions to drive traffic, and 13% offer price matching.
The fact is that independents simply can’t compete on price against big box stores. The good news is that they shouldn’t be trying to. Competing for prices is not what independent shoppers are looking for – 81% of consumers RCC surveyed did not expect independent retailers to price-match with large retail box stores. In fact, 68% would rather shop at a local retailer that offers personalized products and services even if the price is slightly higher.
With that being said, instead of focusing on pricing, independent retailers should embrace a personalization strategy -- one based on the habits and preferences of their most-profitable consumers.
eCommerce Solutions for Customer Engagement:
When a shopper walks into a shop, retailers should be able to recognize and create an individually tailored experience for them, which can leverage a variety of data points available. To be able to capture engagement, independent retailers should understand the context of their shopper’s needs. What is a new Mom looking at while she’s out for a walk with her newborn? Where are they located? What is the goal of their shopping trip? If the shopping experience is about browsing, how does a retailer influence that specific moment so it becomes a purchase?
Lets say, the new Mom enters a baby apparel store and a personalized text message appears on her mobile device. The message encourages her to log into the store’s wifi or open up her mobile app to receive a customized sale on diapers based on her purchasing history and preferences. As she walks through the store, she is welcomed by a digital touch screen sign that invites her by name and highlights a few diaper products that may be of interest. If she interacts with the products, she is presented with additional curated product information and recommendations. Upon selecting the diaper product, a wayfinding system guides her to the baby section in the store. This experience is seamlessly passed through to her mobile device where she can choose to add the baby products to a wish list, share the products on her social networks, or discover other ratings and reviews from other new Moms.
This scenario is all driven by dynamic personalization engines, which individualizes a customer’s shopping experience.
Meeting Your Match with Sephora:
The beauty retailer, Sephora has done just this. Julie Bornstein, EVP and Chief Marketing and Digital Officer for Sephora, administers much of their recent success to the company’s personalized loyalty program Beauty Insider, which converts anonymous visitors to recognizable individuals. Through its ColorIQ feature, which identifies skin pantone, Sephora can match existing products to an individual's skin tone.
With this feature, the company is able to match skin tones to products in their stores, seamlessly enabling a more personalized customer experience. Now, this is no easy task -- there are roughly 110 skin tones in Sephora’s database. However, with this many skin tones in the ColorIQ personalization campaign, Sephora reduces the number of attempts it takes to find the right match to a customer’s skin tone. In many cases, customer’s have been able to find their skin match immediately.
A profile that can be accessed through mobile and desktop devices is created when a customer first becomes part of the Beauty Insider program -- as well as, through the iPad’s which are located at every Sephora store counter. This connectivity empowers Sephora to match, for example, a shopper’s skin tone with products for sale within the physical store.
Independent retailers should shift from the mindset of participating only to match prices with big box stores and leverage what they do best: providing a personalized shopping experience. To win against the big players in the league, today’s independent retailers must institutionalize these core competencies by adopting increasingly accessible and affordable technologies, and by using knowledgeable marketing tactics. Success for independent retailers is about magnifying what they already do well -- which happens to be exactly what customers want.
*“4 Ways To Win Independent Retailers”. Retail Council of Canada, The 2014 Independent Retail Report: accessed 24 November 2014. http://www.retailcouncil.org/sites/default/files/documents/research_4_Ways_To_Win_Independent_Retailers.pdf
*Photo credit: nonfiction tees