When we think of personalisation in Retail we obviously need to think of data. Traditional data in the form of Demographic, Profile, Behavioural and Transactional; but we need to consider the new boys on the block, Contextual and Emotional.
Contextual personalisation will allow marketers to deliver messages, content and experiences based on where the customer is. This might mean based on type of location – a retail outlet, whether that be on a high street or a shopping mall or other factors based around location, for example weather. For the former digital displays could now reflect the status of the store as well as the context of location and surrounding stores, whether they be competitive or complementary. In fact, those messages could also be based on the individual and their previous purchase history (Transactional Data).
The actual weather in that location can obviously be used to entice you into buying that North Face waterproof or a warming latte.
Understanding the emotions that a consumer is exhibiting in response to products (Joy, Surprise, Anger, Confusion?) will allow brands to target communications either real time or as a follow up.
For most consumers, omni-channel experiences are now a given, but the issue marketers have is recognising a customer when they are ‘offline’ in a bricks and mortar environment. The solution needs to focus on the thing we have with us 24 hours a day. No, not mobile phones, faces!
If we want to look to the future and how this might all come together then need to look East.
Brands in China and Hong Kong are using cameras with Facial Recognition capability (yes AI) to identify individuals and then combining for example online browsing history to allow informed conversations with store staff.
Alibaba and Guess have Fashion AI that combines facial recognition into ‘magic mirrors’ in changing rooms. It allows customers to essentially see what clothes look like on without trying them on. Recommendations on other options can also be based on local weather, gender and age .
But of course aiding a sale can also be delivered by making the transaction itself easier. Alibaba has launched an experimental cashier-less store called “Tao Café’’ where customers give permission for facial recognition to essentially to be used to facilitate payments without queuing. (Amazon Go’s queueless shopping experience has people queuing to use it!)
And a little bit less East, Zara is already experimenting with automated in-store order pick-up at its new flagship store in London’s Westfield Stratford shopping mall. Customers can scan their order QR code or provide a pin number to activate an automated warehouse behind the store, which uses robots to find the package and drop it into a collection mailbox.
The key is to use data and technology to deliver a customer experience based on who they are, where they, what they need.