The world went fully digital in a surprise attack – and retail finds itself in another turmoil. But there’s a big chance hidden there. Many, actually.
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Whereas the years 20/21 made many retailers want to turn back the clock of times, the future actually looks much brighter than the past – for those in the industry who do it right. What means a multifaceted approach to personalization, powered by intelligent digitalization – and a new overall modus operandi to the business. Let's name a few examples:
1. Personalization is a must – and digitization the most important prerequisite
What engages us as humans is social interaction. Which is why you should never give up on brick-and-mortar stores. But they need to become part of a strategy which backbone is made of data – they can't work as standalone solutions anymore. Buyers don’t want to be numbers. And ironically, digitalization is the only way for big players to fix this problem. It will show you who your client is. Online and offline – as the channels may vary, but the characteristic needs, preferences and constraints of the client tend to be much more stable.
2. You've got the data. But you need the whole picture.
80% of enterprise knowledge is spread across scattered sources. Which means that you can't connect the dots which would give you an (almost) 360 degree overview of your clients and your business. There's so much knowledge within your teams and systems: product management, marketing, web content management, digital asset management, sales ... If you put them together the right way, those data provide valuable insights on content performance and customer behavior. Individually and across markets.
3. Let your website go local. Everywhere.
There are plenty more fish in the sea, and the products you’re retailing may be in great demand among customers of so far untapped markets. But how to address them? How to become personal in a foreign language? By not only translating the words but, first of all, translating the tone. To get in sync with your audience, you need to localize your global content. This is a task for experienced experts, native to the targeted markets, to partner with you.
4. Make sure you'll be found
How must your content be written to be classified as helpful, informative and relevant – by the search engines and by your prospects? Is your SEO on point? Do you know whether the same keywords are relevant for you across languages? Whether your customer personas are more likely to use them in their local language or in English? To not only be appealing for other markets, but relevant and findable, you need to have the knowledge for international, localized SEO.
5. Market research and analysis – the holistic way
A truly localized market strategy takes into account hard figures just like local currency and payment preferences, technical infrastructure, social norms, motivations and drivers of the target audience. Only in conjunction with these factors you'll be able to tailor the selection of your products, your channels and your content for successful and personal relationships with prospects and clients across borders. It is this holistic market research and analysis that will distinguish you from your competitors – an investment thay pays off: From the beginning – and in the long run.
6. Go to where your customers are – and let them have it their way
We don’t wake up every day the same. But we have our habits. The same is true for your customers: They may require a video on Youtube to see a product in action one day, get inspired by a clip on TikTok, by a photo on Instagram the next day … and finally go directly to your website for profound information. Let them have it their way, But make the experience a consistent one, and know which channels make more sense in which market. This depends on your brand, on your products – and on your audiences in the different markets.
7. Online means convenience – and brick and mortar? Experience!
Make shopping an event, and make your clients an integral part of it. After being confined in their homes for months in 2020, they got used to the convenience of online shopping, with their purchase being brought to their doorstep. But life is about more than sitting on the couch comfortably. It’s the memorable experience that counts. And there’s a pent-up demand for it. So make sure that while your customers’ online experience provides all the convenience, in your physical store, it will be memorable. Be it with live cookings, cocktail parties, fashion shows ... depending on your branch and your clients. So that they'll remember you – and be happy to come back.
8. BOPIS, ROPIS and BORIS are a store’s best friend
The better integrated online and offline experiences are, the more your clients will be willing to switch between the two. And you can optimize their experience as well as their engagement, combining online and brick-and-mortar for even more convenience and human touch at the same time. The three acronyms stand for "Buy online, pick up in
store", "Reserve online, pick up in store" and "Buy online, return in store". In all three cases you offer the client the best of the two worlds that now become one – and you strengthen the ties in the personal interaction, while increasing the chance for some extra revenue.
9. After sales, taken personally
The happier a relationship is, the harder it is to say goodbye. So hard that you eventually don’t even say it anymore: the goodbye becomes a “see you” in many variations, The same is true once the sale is done: after sales begins. It’s now that you can demonstrate how much you really care. Be it by sending the link to a tutorial video, by asking for feedback, by appreciating the purchase with a discount on a complementing service or product that fits their profile … the more creative, helpful and personalized you get, the more special you make your customer feel – and the more they keep being engaged.
10. The influencer and you
Word of mouth, accelerated: influencer marketing is not only much more personal than classic promotion with celebrities; it's just like a good conversation should be – bidirectional. Ideally, the right influencers may represent your customer personas – but in any case, you’ll find the respective profiles among their followers. And those are the ones who become highly engaged, give immediate feedback, ask questions, give ideas ... for free.
11. AR and VR are getting real
The more shopping in a physical store is about a unique, sensual experience, the less it can be a necessity. Your clients have experienced it in 2020: It is possible to try on different pairs of glasses, different dresses – and even various shades of makeup virtually. Just like you can ease decisions on new furniture by visualizing the new pieces within rooms and houses. The clients may start the purchase process with visualizations in the comfort of their home, and visit your physical store to finalize or complement the acquisition. Give them the freedom they want – and make use of the data they offer you in the course of their online and offline customer journey.
12. Personalization is not a one-way street
While you shouldn’t try to look like a small, local business, your organization is still made of real people, from real neighborhoods, with real values. Make them the faces of your brand, because they are. And make their values yours - as humans who live in one world, interdependent. Be prepared to be asked about how much you pay your employees, about the sustainability of your products etc. More and more, consumers demand honest answers to these questions, as well – for business and people to only survive, but thrive in a more conscious world.
You probably sense it already: There's much more to digitalization and personalization than you may have thought. We give you an even deeper insight in our brand new ebook Retail restart: all-in digital – to become personal. And if you click below, you have access to more resources and can consolidate your retail restart knowledge.
About the author
Eva Mäkler is Content Marketing Manager at Amplexor, based in Lisbon. With broad experience in Cross-Media Journalism, Eva joined Amplexor in 2020. She's a qualified Social Media-, Online- and Online Marketing Editor and Digital Media Producer, additionally certified in Inbound- and Content Marketing.