Consumer Personalization – Will Brick-and-Mortar Stores Able to Keep Up?

Consumer Personalization – Will Brick-and-Mortar Stores Able to Keep Up?

“Today, online commerce saves customers money and precious time,” said Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos in a 1997 Letter to Shareholders. “Tomorrow, through personalization, online commerce will accelerate the very process of discovery.”

Well, tomorrow is now today, and more than ever, personalization is ramping up the eCommerce scene.

Thanks to personalization technology, we have been provided with an entirely new way to interact and engage with consumers. Real time behavioral analytics, geo-targeting, segmentation, mobile apps and more have brought a whole new meaning to the fundamentals of the marketing landscape we were once raised on – product, price, place, and promotion.

Because of this technology, consumers now have unparalleled opportunities to participate and interact with brands’ messaging tactics. The traditional, linear paths to purchase are no longer king. Consumers and brands are now responding to one another in real time and on an entirely different level than ever before.

The big question remains, though, will brick-and-mortar stores be able to keep up?

As shoppers, we may not see a difference between virtual and physical stores because we have all this technology in our hands – mobile apps, coupon apps, QR codes and more. Brands, however, work in two entirely separate realms – the online shopping world and the traditional brick-and-mortar world.

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores rely on strategic shelf placement, eye-catching window displays and curbside mannequin appeal to meet their sales quotas. Online stores, on the other hand, may not have the benefit of curb appeal, but they have several different types of advantages. They can help shoppers with discovery, encourage engagement, offer loyalty rewards and more, all in the form of direct personalization.

Online shopping is based on who you are as a person – your likes, your preferences, your desires. It’s based on the type of shopper you are, the technology you use, the communication method you favor, and what’s going on at that moment of purchase. People create a different shopping experience every time they visit a retailer’s store. They buy what they want, where they want, and at the price they want – shopping online and via their smart phones give them that freedom.

More than ever, consumers are hitting the web to browse and buy, and are using their laptops, cell phones and iPads to do so. They’re embracing the online shopping experience and will continue to shop online because they have positive experiences there. They’re able to pick something out and immediately get information on the product in real time. Customer reviews, new product announcements, discounts, instant offers and more are all being delivered to shoppers based on their individual tastes, their location, past purchases and more importantly, their distinct wants.

Consumers’ expectations are higher than ever. They want personalization, they want engagement and they want rewards. When people are able to go online and buy something at 1 a.m. on their iPad after receiving an email on their phone offering them Free Shipping from their favorite store, brands have to start doing more to meet customer expectations.

People want more from their shopping experiences. They want the whole process made easier, more engaging, and they want it all instantly. If I frequent a certain brand online and it says “Welcome Back! Here are some items we think you’ll love at prices you’ll appreciate. Oh and here’s a little something for your loyalty,” I feel special, like I’m part of a club and I want to feel that way in brick-and-mortar stores too.

How do you achieve this though?

You need to create a shopping experience that’s equally favorable and curated and share it across all channels – online, in-store, on your brand’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages, and anywhere else your brand is present.

You’ve got to touch consumers pre-shop, mid-shop and post-shop. You need to give people a reason to believe in the brand and continue to buy from it and love it. More importantly, you need to help consumers break away from their major focus on price.

There are certain products that have found really great ways to do this. Think about an eco-friendly brand or cause — people aren’t shopping those brands for their great prices. They’re shopping there because it represents something bigger. Your purchase may be helping educate children in an impoverished nation or the packaging may be really cool, there’s something about it that makes you love having it on your counter.

You have to be so close to the insight process that it will make people, specifically your customers, irrationally love your brand so that it no longer becomes “where can I find this cheaper,” but instead, “I love this brand. I want this item from them and only them.”

With today’s personalization technology, consumers can interact, engage, and move through the process of discovery across multiple channels, entirely redefining the relationship consumers and brands share. Consumer personalization is no longer an eCommerce ideology for tomorrow. It’s happening now, and it’s more tangible and actionable than ever.

by Kristin Tinsley, Content

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