How Aussie retailers can keep up with the 'selfie' generation

Crafting a truly personalised shopping experience is not about Big Data and 'targeted' marketing but about allowing customers to be actively involved in the process.

Today’s retail executives often talk about one-to-one marketing and personalising the customer experience. They track behaviour across every activity online via smartphones, in the car and everywhere else they might shop. With all the Big Data out there on each consumer, it should be straightforward for retailers to always provide customers with compelling, relevant offers.

If this is the case, why are consumers, including me, still receiving offers that miss the mark? For example, the messages retailers claim are “just for you” often don’t resonate, and irrelevant banner advertisements pop up on consumers’ phones only to block them from reading what they’re actually interested in. How does this occur, given the Big Data brilliance that’s applied to predict every aspect of our buying behaviour?

Perhaps Australian and global retailers can learn from the 'selfie' phenomenon, where consumers essentially generate their own public relations and brand awareness without help from the experts. Consumers would likely feel better if they had more say in deflecting a shooting gallery of ads that claim to 'target' them directly. This also offers the potential for consumers to be more loyal to their favourite stores if retailers gave them more say in their shopping journey.

The era of 'Small Data', such as individual customers’ personal preferences and lists, as opposed to everyone’s big data, will arrive sooner rather than later. Using small data, companies can provide equal time listening to what customers want as they can predicting what customers want. This can eliminate the need for intrusive retail strategies, including the use of facial recognition and tracking technology that follows a customer’s path through the aisles, pushing out offers on products the customers may not want.

Small Data is poised to be a win-win for Australia’s retailers and customers. Customers will be more satisfied with a personalised shopping experience, which will lead to increased sales and loyalty for retailers.

In order to connect with the selfie generation and earn its respect and loyalty, retail marketers must work together with their tech colleagues to enhance the customer experience and consider the following:

  • Connect to a standard preference portal. If retailers can tell customers about what they want, when they want it and how much it will cost, they will be more likely to convert sales.
  • Let target audiences tell brands what ads don’t work and provide an 'unlike' button.
  • Serve up loyalty offers without a sign-in. Your app may be special among the more than 2 million smartphone apps out there, but consumers only use a handful of apps regularly.
  • Tailor offers to purchases, not demographics. As the saying goes, “you are what you buy, not who you are".
  • Match shopping lists and offers to an up-to-date planogram with on-hand inventory.

Rick Chavie is chief solution officer at hybris. He has held leadership roles at The Home Depot, C&A, SAP, Deloitte, Accenture and NCR.