Embracing personalisation can help retailers thrive in today’s markets

22nd Nov 2016

Faced with digital disruption and fast-changing markets, organisations will need to be more imaginative in how they collect, analyse and use data about customers. There will be opportunities to provide integrated, highly personalised services that transcend traditional sectors, but this will require unprecedented collaboration and innovative new partnerships.

These insights comes from The Institute’s recent report, The customer of the future – and they’re ones that were echoed this week by Sir Stuart Rose, former chief executive of Marks & Spencer and currently chairman of Dressipi, a B2B provider of one-to-one personalisation solutions for the fashion industry.

According to the Office for National Statistics, online sales in September 2016 grew 22 per cent year-on-year, but Rose believes that high-street retailers have been slow to respond to the customer purchasing revolution.

In an opinion piece for financial newspaper City A.M., Rose commented that a mixture of too much focus on short-term revenue targets and reactive shopkeeping, rather than proactive, has meant that the traditionally close retailer-customer relationship has become more distant.

“For example, in fashion retail, most customers buy from a large number of retailers and brands each year, with each customer keeping only one or two items per retailer,” he wrote. “This means that any single retailer typically has a fraction of the overall shopping and browsing data of any one consumer.

“Extrapolating customer insight or predicting future trends thus becomes extremely difficult. Put simply, retailers just don’t understand customers as much as they used to.”

Getting personal

This lack of understanding, assures Rose, can be overcome and the delivery of a more personalised service based on data, via collaboration between customers and retailers, is possible and can be a win-win situation.

Personalisation solution providers are already working with major retailers, both in the UK and internationally, to pool and share data, with the aim of gaining a greater understanding on customers, leading to better products, better merchandising, better distribution and, ultimately, better customer service and bigger profits.

It’s a trend that’s only likely to grow in 2017 and beyond. As The Customer of the future report forecasts, in the next few years, retailers that focus on combining data and digital technology to deliver a better shopping experience will unlock the ability to give customers what they want.

Earlier this year The Institute launched a strategic insight arm, Deliberata, to help retailers and other organisations unlock the value of their existing sources of data to deliver customer service strategies.

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