Published: 02 May 2019
I recently attended a session entitled To Affinity and Beyond: How Hyper-Personalisation Changes Everything as part of the Leeds Digital Festival.
Given the work we do helping brands implement personalisation strategies on Sitecore, I was interested to see parallels and hear about other’s challenges.
The evolution of personalisation
The speaker made the point during his introduction that personalisation is coming around full circle. Pre-Industrial Revolution, everything was personalised and bespoke and you dealt with the maker of the product or service directly. The relationship was baked into the process of the transaction.
During the disruption of the Industrial Revolution and subsequent decades, the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services were standardised and anonymised. Perhaps 20% of the product or the experience could be customised, but the core product remained the same for everyone.
We are now in the era of hyper-personalisation, pairing both the bespoke experience with a huge scale. This has been powered by technology advances and marketers who keep raising the bar in pursuit of the hearts, minds and wallets of our customers.
‘Personalisation wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff everyone else sees.
No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behaviour as the most important clue about what people want and more importantly, what they need.’
Three questions brands should be asking themselves today
The presentation covered a lot of ground, but these are the three questions that have crystallised in my mind.
1. What would your brand-as-a-curator look like?
Most of us are familiar with the paradox of choice: the more choice we have, the harder it is to choose anything. There is a paralysis that sets in when we’re faced with the 'endless aisle’, whether that’s a grocery store with 45,000 SKUs or a website with 1,000 different dresses.
Customers want fewer, more relevant options. It’s time for brands to become curators.
The data you’re collecting is what drives this opportunity. Based on my preferences as well as my previous buying behaviour, show me what I like, want and need, and I’ll be more likely to make a quick purchase.
Including recommendations based on what similar people purchased is another example of curating based on data.
The caveat here is that we don’t want to create an echo chamber or remove options entirely. Bring your curated items to the top of the experience but offer a discovery or explore feature that customers can interact with to find something new.
2. How are you going to bridge the gap from online-to-offline (O2O)?
Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or a B2C business, we all have to address O2O. We’ve been talking about omnichannel marketing and experiences for years, but it’s time to make it a reality for your brand.
In 2018, Nike opened a concept store in Los Angeles powered by data and technology that provides a personalised experience for their customers, for example:
- The store stocks and displays the products that people in that zip code buy the most
- Customers can use Nike apps to interact with products in the store to find more information about them and their stock levels
- The store allows customers to reserve products online that they want to try. Once at the store, customers scan a barcode to open lockers with the product set aside - no retail assistant or waiting required.
- Customers who are in a rush can 'text and collect’ their purchases at the curb
It’s time for all of us to look at the entire experience of our customers and find ways to make their interactions both on and offline with us as meaningful and personal as possible.
3. How can the Internet of Things (IoT) create personalisation opportunities?
When people hear ‘personalisation', it’s easy to think at a micro level, ie. changing the content of a website based on previous interactions. But the IoT can unlock opportunities at a macro level.
The example cited in the presentation had to do with warehouse management systems powered by IoT.
- By using sensors, beacons and RFID tags on products, you know what stock you have, where it is and how long it will take to get to a store or a customer.
- You can monitor the stock in store and modify the price and promotions based on customer demand or the need to shift stock for what’s coming next.
- Integrating your inventory management system with your website means that you can dynamically change what’s displayed based on seasonal and even regional trends.
- The cycle drives relevance for customers who are seeing what they need when they need it.
With customers today expecting real-time availability, next day delivery and updates throughout, it’s clear to see how IoT linking the elements of the supply chain can benefit both brands and their customers.
Answering these questions for your brand will help you keep up and maybe even pull ahead of the competition.
If you would like to discuss these questions and what they mean for your brand, we are happy to arrange a chat. Contact us on 0208 070 7820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org