The profit engine: personalisation

Personalisation has always been important in retail. Not so long ago, a local shopkeeper knowing your name or suggesting a new item you might like to try, gave them a competitive edge and improved customer loyalty. Fast forward to today and personalisation remains as important as ever, but the way it’s delivered is constantly evolving.

Customers now have the option to browse their favourite stores online at their convenience, across multiple devices, instead of taking a trip to their nearest high-street. Retailers have had to adapt to this change in consumer habits, to ensure that they maintain a connection with customers both online and in-store.

When commerce first shifted online, basic customer segmentation was the focus of personalisation. But it was a blunt instrument – too often offering irrelevant recommendations. The evolution of technology has facilitated a much more in-depth degree of insight, influenced by machine and real time learning, we like to call it the personalisation engine.

A personalisation engine acts as a shopper’s favourite local sales assistant across the several touch-points of their modern shopping journey. It identifies the optimum experience for an individual, based on what is known about their behaviours. It can tailor the experience in real time, help anticipate shopper demands and behaviours, alter the online presentation layer or trigger a useful suggestion.

By 2020, Gartner predicts* that personalisation engines used to recognise shopper intent will enable digital businesses to increase their profits up to 15 per cent. This means more page views and clicks per page, decreased bounce rates, and higher use of self-service costs, which all individually drives profit. With higher engagement, there are more shopper acquisitions, wider margins, fewer returned items and lower service costs.

The driver of a personalisation engine is data. It creates a shopper profile on an individual’s personal data, as well as the behavioural data of similar individuals. It can tell a retailer a shopper’s preferences, what they’ve purchased and what they’ve been browsing, allowing retailers to fully understand their customer. This gigantic volume of data can be overwhelming and for many extracting the important information is a real challenge. The personalisation engine ensures that this data is managed effectively, so each shopper is approached with predictive targeting in the most personable way possible. This efficiency is what creates the competitive edge and puts personalisation engines at the forefront of online marketing.

With the right knowledge in place, you can start to apply it where it matters: multiple devices and channels are now the norm when browsing and buying. Today, the leading 25 per cent of mobile retailers saw 50 per cent of their sales from mobile** and one-third of transactions involve two or more devices from the first website visit to point of purchase***; proving that delivering a truly personal experience requires a seamless presence across all parts of the journey.

The combination of the right data delivered across the right channels means more intelligent solutions can be created. The most sophisticated brands incorporate machine learning to update customer profiles in real time. These advanced engines ensure that personalisation is driving relevant digital experiences that help to increase satisfaction and engagement, which in turn help delivers happy customers.

The basic principles of retail remain the same: know your customer. Forward thinking retailers must place personalisation at the heart of their marketing strategy to deliver a truly relevant experience across the multiple touch points available to shoppers and in-store. When personalisation is done right, it can be the magic ingredient that will make profits soar.

* http://www.criteo.com/resources/gartner-report-preparing-for-digital-commerce-success/

** http://www.criteo.com/media/5333/criteo-mobilecommercereport-h12016-us.pdf

*** http://www.criteo.com/media/6620/criteo-state-of-cross-device-commerce-2016-h2-us.pdf

Pressy Sankaran, Commercial Director – ANZ, Criteo

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