Retail Trends

Shopping Should Be Personal

It's time to challenge the adage, "It's not personal, it's strictly business." Shopping has, in fact, become personal. According to a recent L2 study, 60% of consumers are willing to spend more on a brand that makes an effort to personalize the experience. However, only about a quarter of luxury retailers are offering their customers personalized services online. This disconnect provides an enormous opportunity -  retailers that can figure out how to create more personalized, inspirational shopping experiences will deepen engagement with customers and ultimately drive sales.

Here are five creative ways successful retailers are using advanced mobile technologies to engage with today's consumer by curating deep, personal shopping experiences.

Music

Studies have repeatedly shown that music is a powerful tool for evoking emotions and feelings. In fact, music is a far more powerful tool than language. Retailers are beginning to harness the power of music by incorporating it into their apps.

Starbucks, for example, has always considered music to be an important part of their culture. The company has given away tracks; baristas thoughtfully selected playlists and CDs are available for sale in stores. Last year, however, the global chain took their music integration to the next level by partnering with Spotify. The deal enables Starbucks app users to identify and save music and playlists they've heard in store to their Spotify app, share songs on social media and influence future playlists. These ‘sticky’ features simultaneously boost Starbucks and Spotify’s mobile app usage resulting in higher customer engagement.

Live Chat

We’ve seen the success of live chat in traditional, desktop e-commerce - shoppers have access to a customer support representative who can immediately answer their question on an item, be it in-store availability, sizing, etc. Live chat provides a highly anthropomorphized experience, so the customer feels more connected to the brand. This personal connection is pivotal to the sale as it reduces user bounce rates, drives engagement and ultimately, checkout. Telecommunications giant Verizon is using the power of live chat on its mobile app to further engage with customers. The live chat feature allows the provider to interact directly with clients and answer inquiries in real-time.

Rich Media Notifications

In recent years, rich media notifications and geo-targeting have become more socially acceptable, with Silicon Valley innovators Google and Apple breaking the 'creepy' ceiling. Contrary to 'big brother' beliefs and consumer skepticism, geo-targeting has simplified our lives and created efficiencies - think about the times you've gotten in your car and Apple Maps has advised of your drive time; a clear route, no traffic - yeah!

Rich media notifications are an effective way for retailers to personalize the shopping experience for app users. Moreover, research has shown that when images accompany rich media notifications, open rates increase by 56% compared to other creative forms. Using interactive, targeted push notifications, retailers can delight customers and encourage purchases by recommending products, offering discounts, promotions, and coupons.

Gamification

Consumers like to be rewarded and retailers are finding creative ways to incorporate games and prizes into their apps. Fitbit, the company behind the ubiquitous wearable activity tracker, has a system of badges that rewards users for the number of steps they've taken. This reward system, which also includes a social sharing component, engages and encourages users in a fun and playful way.

Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks are other examples of retailers who successfully incorporate gamification into their business models. The food and beverage chains reward app users when purchases are made with points or stars that can ultimately be redeemed for free products. This is not unlike the airlines’ frequent flyer programs and is quite effective in influencing purchase decisions and loyalty.

Book In-Store Appointments

Cosmetics giant Sephora offers a useful feature on its app - the ability to book in-store appointments for makeup applications or skincare consultations. This is an incredibly useful feature for customers and one that builds cart value for brands. Retailers that offer customers appointments for fittings and other services that are complementary to its product set are creating greater brand ‘stickiness’ and encouraging loyalty.

Shoppers have become accustomed to highly personalized experiences in-store and from their desktop computers.  The data points are powerful - 86% of consumers surveyed admit that personalization affects their purchasing decisions. There is clearly a desire for highly personalized customer service, and with advances in mobile technology, retailers now have the ability to do so.  Brands must incorporate the same level of personalized, exceptional customer service in their mobile offering. Those who do it well will come out on top.

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