4 Tips for Personalization This Holiday Season
Retailers have already started their preparations for the busiest time of the year — the five consecutive days starting Thanksgiving Day and concluding Cyber Monday. Although many consumers will brave the mad rush and adrenaline of Black Friday in physical stores, many others — actually around 122 million people last year, according to the National Retail Federation — intend to do some or all of their holiday shopping online.
While some retailers do whatever it takes to maximize sales during that five-day period, others see that window as a time to be cautious. They often rein in changes to their digital properties out of fear that something will break.
My advice is to go all out on personalizing experiences for customers this holiday season. Here are four tips for how retailers can supercharge their personalization during the holiday shopping season:
Tip 1: Prepare for the omnichannel experience.
The National Retail Federation found that over the course of the holiday season last year, the customer who shopped both online and in store proved to be the most valuable.
To win over this omnichannel customer, retailers need to offer a seamless experience from device to device and even to in-store. If customers have been researching a product, retailers should make it easy for them to pick up where they left off when they move to a new device. One way to do this is having a pop-up message that reminds customers where they left off and direct them to pick up there again if they’re still interested. Be sure to capture what path shoppers take, and personalize the next experience accordingly.
Tip 2: Think mobile at all times.
More customers than ever are using their smartphones to research products in-store and make purchases. eMarketer predicts that this year purchases from mobile devices, which include smartphones, tablets, and wearables, will grow by 32.7 percent to $208.29 billion, and account for 39.6 percent of all retail e-commerce sales.
To effectively reach these mobile-driven consumers, retailers need to go beyond just segmenting traffic by mobile vs. desktop. This can include delivering experiences to mobile users that are personalized for their specific smartphone model. It can also include leveraging data like geolocation to understand when the customer is in the physical store. Once in the store, the retailer can present relevant, timely offers that may convince the customer to either purchase the item they’ve been researching or suggest variants of or products that are complementary to that item for them to consider.
Tip 3: Let consumers use their voice to shop, and personalize the responses.
More consumers are using voice assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri to help them shop. A recent Capgemini report said 52 percent of consumers indicate they use a voice assistant over traditional mobile or web channels because it’s more convenient.
One idea for how retailers can use voice this holiday season is to build an experience for each of the common voice assistants that lets customers track their holiday packages. They can simply ask, “OK Google, where are my adult-size duck onesie pajamas?” It’s a low-entry tactic that will reduce stress for harried holiday shoppers.
Tip 4: Let AI personalize experiences through offers and recommendations.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) to power personalized experiences lets retailers scale their efforts during a time when manual work simply won’t cut it.
AI can be useful for retailers in several ways this holiday season. First, they can create a variety of offers — 50 percent off, buy one get one, free shipping, and so on — and let AI automatically determine what offer works best for each visitor based on the customer’s profile and past shopping behavior. They can also consider creating multipage purchase journeys and let the machine decide the best journey for each visitor. In addition, retailers can take the key learnings from what the machine-learning model found most important in making its decisions and apply those learnings throughout the holiday season, and perhaps even beyond.
Retailers can also leverage AI to deliver personalized product recommendations that help consumers find new or complementary items to purchase. However, retailers shouldn’t just turn them on for the holiday shopping season for the sake of ticking a box. They should test having recommendations vs. not to verify that they do indeed increase sales.
Just the tip of the iceberg
These considerations and suggestions are just some of the many possible ways retailers can personalize their digital channels and in-store shopping experiences to take advantage of the holiday season.