The retail sector was one of the first to realise the potential value of the data that digital transactions and online behaviour generates. Even before the days when it dominated online commerce – back when it only sold books – Amazon was able to offer its customers personal recommendations based on previous purchases and where they had spent time on the site.
Today, retailers are using systems that are much more advanced, based on much richer data and integrated across multiple channels. In the age of Big Data, systems have been optimised to absorb the vast quantity of information that is being created by our digital lives.
In-store technology like iBeacons will become familiar fixtures in retail outlets, and will become increasingly useful for both shoppers and retailers alike. They will connect with smartphones to display localised offers and promotions in-store. These could be unique to each customer based on spending habits, browsing history or proximity to a certain date, such as a birthday. iBeacons can be deployed from around £700 and set up in-store in less than a week. The key to their success will be to provide simple, direct messages that are truly personal and can save customers time and money.
For example, on entering a store, an iBeacon could trigger a click and collect order, enabling you to skip the 15-minute queue. Or it could encourage you to buy toothpaste based on your purchase history and the fact that it was two months since you last did so. Promotions will only be welcomed once they have a legitimate use, and marketers have earned the right to present them.
Consumer experience is now the primary ground where retailers do battle. Customers have instant access to pricing and product information, and can switch retailers in a heartbeat. This means the front line of customer loyalty is consumer experience, with personalisation the key weapon. Those that can deliver a rich, integrated, personal journey across multiple retail channels will be the winners, while those that don’t will be left behind.