The rise of mobile has led to brick-and-mortar stores being replaced by living rooms, park benches, and office cubicles as primary locations to shop. Convenience has become the new priority for consumers.

Moreover, with more consumers going digital, the personalization that accompanied in-store sales is disappearing. Retailers need to bring personalization back to online consumers or miss out on sales opportunities.

Online retailers that know their shoppers can grow sales and improve the shopping experience.

Below are three reasons why the retail industry needs to deepen its focus on personalization for online shoppers.

1. Consumers want personalization

Consumers expect a personalized shopping experience.

A whopping 83% of shoppers see value in being recognized with personalized experiences across all devices, according to a recent report by Lauren Freedman (of the e-tailing group) and MyBuys.

As the desire for a one-to-one personalized experience grows, segment marketing is becoming increasingly difficult to justify. Consumers not only want information tailored to their specific needs, but they want information tailored to them across all their devices, whenever consumers choose to access them.

We have seen an upsurge in those expectations these past six years since the initial e-tailing group's survey on personalization, and we anticipate that those expectations will continue to grow.

2. Sales are made using multiple channels and devices

Retailers are quickly becoming familiar with consumers' multi-device buying habits. Nearly 62% of shoppers use three or more devices to access the Internet, and a majority of shoppers make purchases using all those devices.

Though multi-device buying creates some hurdles for marketers, it also creates opportunities for brands to learn more about how customers shop.

For example, consumers receive an email on their phone, open it, and see content personalized for them. They then go to their tablet to browse more products and shift over to their desktop computer to make the purchase.

Previously, marketers had to figure out how to create a unified and personalized message across all three channels. That's no longer the only issue.

Now, that message requires traversing each channel and the multiple devices consumers use on their path to purchase to understand each "clue" the individual is leaving you about his or her wants and desires. Anything less will leave significant holes in your understanding and will render your personalization capabilities suboptimal.

Understanding consumers' physical location also has become increasingly important. Geo-targeting technology maximizes the serendipitous nature of shopping by identifying motivated shoppers based on their location and proximity to physical stores.

With personalization, a consumer can have a one-to-one personal experience at every step of the buying process. A consumer's personalized experience remains consistent from online store to in-store... and back again.

3. Personalization creates a better understanding of known and unknown consumers

Using the right tools, marketers can gain greater visibility into customers' online shopping behaviors and learn when, how often, and what device they use to shop. By analyzing various online shopping behaviors, brands can better understand shoppers' entire buying cycle, not just the end purchase.

Brands can learn where and how shoppers browse, when and where they compare prices and features, and most importantly, when they might be ready to make a purchase decision.

Having that information readily available enables retailers to better gain and acquire new customers. Technology has made tracking and maintaining this relationship with the consumer across all channels possible.

Moreover, one-to-one personalization allows retailers to understand Consumer A and Consumer B at a deeper level. When we personalize at the individual level, each consumer's unique style and shopping behaviors are reflected in the recommendations and ads each customer sees.

Retailers that have realized that one-to-one personalization is the future of marketing are also the same retailers that have seen their sales and customer retention rates go up.

Quick Tips for Personalization

Give consumers what they want, when they want it, and where they shop.

  • Personalize every experience, on every device, and make it consistent across each one.
  • Market to consumers where they shop, both online and in-store.
  • Use technology to better understand your customers and anonymous consumers.

Retailers may lose the physical proximity to consumers, but retailers now can engage consumers in many more ways and have a deeper understanding of buying behaviors.

Savvy marketers recognize that gathering data from multiple channels—not just individual silos —provides key insights that can be used to drive actions and sales.

* * *

Move past thinking of online and offline marketing as separate entities. Using all the data at your disposal—across every channel and every device—for personalization will yield far better results for you and will give consumers a consistent, personalized view of your brand and your store every time and everywhere they shop.

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Three Reasons for Retailers to Focus on Personalization

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image of Rita Brogley

Rita Brogley is CEO of MyBuys, a personalized display and email retargeting firm.

LinkedIn: Rita Brogley