The connected, personalized retail experience: eTail West recap

Last week I had the opportunity to attend eTail West where over a thousand retail-focused marketers gathered to learn about what’s disrupting the industry and discuss a number of key topics, some of which include measurement, how to rebrand your loyalty program, marketing automation, the role of data, best practices for the design of retail, the importance of creating a personalized experience for each consumer and more.

One of the major takeaways discussed by multiple speakers was the fact that personalization is much more than just including the consumer’s name in an email. Brands are looking to promote and offer products and services specific to an individual’s interests and buying habits. And 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company who offers personalized experiences.

As marketers, we’re all striving to create personalized experiences to gain brand loyalty and encourage shoppers to buy from us, our brand, in this ever-so crowded market. And there is an increased reliance on digital to help provide these personalized experiences to consumers. But it’s important to understand that digital is just one of the channels that influences a consumer’s purchase decision. Marketers need to focus on all channels to achieve it, including in-store. As I shared in my previous blog post, the role of the retail store has changed but it’s very much an active channel. Marketers need to determine how to best leverage in-store within their overall omnichannel strategy.

Learn more: Retailers struggle with identity resolution: New Forrester research explains why

Major brands are focusing in-store

At the conference, I had the opportunity to hear from leading retail brands on how they’re working towards achieving the connected retail experience for their customers. In a panel discussion focused on the merging of online and offline to deliver the optimal customer experience, Thredup’s Head of Retail shared, “70% of women’s apparel is purchased in-store and we are using in-store as an opportunity for it to be a service center for the brand.”

Additionally, Fabletics discussed how 50% of their shoppers go in-store to interact with their brand. To stay relevant in a changing industry, Fabletics is finding new ways to integrate digital into their in-store customer experience. For example, each dressing room within the Fabletics’ retail stores is equipped with a tablet which enhances the personalized service. With the tablet, shoppers have the ability to request assistance from an attendant for a new size/style, and they’re even able to order online via the brand’s website. The Fabletics associates have can scan the clothes being tried on in the dressing rooms, which serves as a ‘testing mechanism’ to learn of the apparel items that are consistently tried on but not purchased. This provides guidance as to how certain clothing lines may need to be reworked.

Retailers like Thredup and Fabletics are incorporating new marketing strategies into their program and are working towards the common goal of being able to provide the best personalized experience for each and every customer.

The secret ingredient to a great customer experience

Oftentimes, we are asked ‘What’s the secret ingredient to creating this ultimate connected experience?’ Our answer is two words – Consistent Identity (ID). As Epsilon’s Lisa Henderson shared in the panel discussion at Leaders in Retail Tech and What’s Next, “Knowing the customer online and offline and integrating the solutions and data to create persistent and consistent ID to deliver the right message at the right time is crucial. Measuring just the last touch (or interaction with your brand) is worthless because everything is multi-touch. Retailers need to put their brand at the center of experience and know where the full journey is happening.” When retail brands are consistently able to identify their customers across channels and devices, they can use that rich information to curate the personalized experiences customers crave.

So, as you’re evaluating your marketing programs to determine how best you can create that desirable connected personalized experience for your customers, think consistent ID and how you’re able to support the ‘always on digital ID’. It truly is at the core of enabling a personalized retail experience.

Key takeaways from the event

I walked away with some great learnings retail marketers can start using right now to give them a leg up in a crowded marketplace:

  • Evolve your personalization strategy. Remember, personalization is more than just adding a customer’s name to an email promotion. Understand their browsing and purchasing behaviors to optimize your message to the individual shopper to include relevant items and promotions you know they’ll appreciate.
  • Focus on crafting a great in-store customer experience. While many people are engaging with retail brands online, the in-store visit is still extremely important to influencing the customer to buy—on the web or in-store.
  • Make sure to have consistent identity (ID) for each customer. It’s integral to learning who they are and what they like to buy. And, when you can reach them on any of their preferred devices and channels, your always on digital campaign will never lose touch.

Want to learn more about how data and identity can fuel your retail marketing strategy and provide top-notch customer experiences? Download our research to learn more.