Fayez Mohamood, CEO and Co-Founder of Bluecore, explains why shifting at least some control from messaging in customer communications to technology can provide customers with the most personalized experiences and lead to benefits other than retailers might never have considered.
Today’s retail environment is dominated by buyer preferences: shoppers want brands to meet them with exactly what they want, on the digital channel they’re on. And the only way to retain buyers with a brand is to provide them with these individualized experiences based on their preferences, including who they are, how they buy, and the products they engage with.
Retailers see personalization as a way to connect customers with products they’ll love and create loyal, long-term customers, instead of unique buyers. But personalization is more than it looks.
Personalized marketing can impact retailers in ways they may never have even considered and have major business benefits. Here are five surprising benefits of personalized marketing:
1. Customer service can be less of a complaints center than a customer experience space
When customers are not satisfied with a product, their first reaction is to speak directly to customer service. Maybe the product doesn’t look good on them, they don’t like the color, or they just hate the product. Through personalized communications, only products that are meaningful to them and in their specific size are shown to buyers. This doesn’t mean that buyers will always be happy with a product, but they are more likely to be, which means there are fewer unhappy customers contacting customer service.
For example, when brands of footwear and fitness clothing NO BULL Derived from personalized product recommendations in their communications with customers, based on current inventory and buyer interest, they saw a significant decrease in unhappy customer service calls.
And with less time spent processing complaints, customer service teams can spend more time building relationships with customers. Call centers can become more of a customer experience space – another point of contact for customers to interact with a brand – rather than a complaints center.
2. Brands can better forecast inventory
Brands need to examine buyer behavior and the products they interact with to successfully personalize their marketing. Only then can they make precise decisions – with the help of technology – about what buyers will be interested in buying next. This data can also be used beyond marketing and, surprisingly enough, in the warehouse.
Some retailers who have made personalized marketing a priority have also seen an impact on their supply chain. With retailers’ knowledge of what customers are going to buy, what has recently been out of stock that customers are engaging with, and which products are not working, they can stock their warehouse more efficiently.
This is especially important in a digitally driven world, with increasing pressure on the supply chain. Retailers are still grappling with their supply chain due to COVID, and with the holidays approaching, they can’t afford a repeat of last year: low inventory with increased demand for products, coupled with delivery delays. Retailers need to double their supply chain and make sure they have enough of the right items and the means to offer fast deliveries to customers.
3. Brands “go green” and increase sustainability
Almost all brands want to incorporate some aspect of sustainability into their business. For some it may mean selling products with sustainable fabrics and for others it may mean corporate donations to environmental causes. What about personalized marketing? It can also be sustainable.
Buyers who buy products selected just for themselves are less likely to make returns. Lower returns mean less carbon emissions from transport to warehouse and less wasted packaging. And many times the returns are completely thrown away and go straight to the landfill. By matching shoppers with the products they want – and that match them – and avoiding returns, retailers also end up being more sustainable.
4. Brands are experiencing a renaissance in margins
With a personalization strategy, brands can be much more thoughtful in how they market products. Brands can make personalized recommendations based on which items shoppers already have in their cart, to increase cart size and minimize the cost of initial processing (one order, with many items, is cheaper to process than three orders, each with an article).
Product recommendations aren’t the only type of personalization that affects margins – personalized offers and promotions can have a significant impact on a retailer’s bottom line as well. Not everyone needs an offer to shop, in fact, only 36% of buyers say discounts have the most impact on their purchase from a brand. And each buyer has a different offer value that will lead them to convert.
5. Buyers turn to the brands that know them best
Today’s consumers want an experience specially designed for them; at each point of contact, they engage with a brand. And with this heightened expectation of personalization, they’re starting to think of brands differently than they maybe had in the past.
As brands discover customers through different touch points, like how they interact with products online and what they buy in-store, they will be able to personalize customer experiences accordingly. When brands know what customers want – even before they do – it creates an affinity with the brand and in a way, the brand becomes a friend. Customers want to visit the friend who knows them best over and over again and continue to build that relationship, rather than staying in touch with the friend who never seems to ask questions about them.
Brands that meet shoppers with exactly what they want, whether online or in-store, will be the ones customers gravitate towards.
Historically, brands have stuck with manual processes and moved away from mainstreaming AI and process automation because they believe AI will make decisions that don’t match the brand. But the technology won’t eclipse the brand, it will strengthen it. Brands that are willing to cede at least some control of messaging in their customer communications to technology will be the ones that can provide customers with the most personalized experiences and lead to other benefits that they may not have. never be considered.
Fayez Mohamood is CEO and co-founder of Bluecore