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Staying ahead the market with personalised CX

11 June 2018

Providing customers with a  personalised shopping experience is no longer a nice-to-have. In 2018 and ahead, retailers need to think about personalisation as a must-have approach to shoppers. As we look at this topic, it seems that companies can be driven by different objectives than personalisation alone. All of which enhance customer experience, putting the brand above the competition.

Bespoke service in online retail

There is no shortage of personalisation examples in the ecommerce space. One outlier is Trunk Club. This menswear company was acquired by Nordstrom for a cool US$350 million. The customer experience that separates Trunk Club from the rest hinges on the personal touch and the loyalty it creates. For instance, a style expert will call, email or have a personal consultation with a interested buyer, finding out their individual style and needs. Following that, a cardboard trunk with a bunch of handpicked items will turn up at their door. The customer is free to keep what they like and return what they don’t. Postage is free both ways (as-seen-on-tv businesses take note!) and trunks can turn up at whatever frequency the buyer prefers - monthly, seasonally, what-have-you. Convenient, highly personal service with great odds to create ongoing loyalty. This model takes the in-store experience to a new level - you can try things in your own home when items are sent to you - no wasting time driving to the mall and hunting for a car park.  

Diversify and create hype

Most people will remember Coca Cola personalised bottles with common names printed on them from a few years ago. The campaign received a lot of hype and a lot of people, especially the younger crowd, rushed into grocery outlets to hunt for their own name or a name of a loved one and quickly post it on social media. Going a step beyond, you can now go to the online Coke store and personalise your own glass bottle, get it boxed up and sent to someone. Or you can create corporate swag for the workplace, begging the question - are manufacturers now dipping into the promotional merchandise space?  Love it or hate it, they have found a way to not only run a penetrating campaign, but also diversity the product offering.

Global range, adapted for the local market

When Amazon dropped Echo on the New Zealand market, a lot of potential buyers had their reservations about how effectively it would understand and interact with kiwis. The smart speaker, powered by Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa - Echo is a voice-activated speaker which can tell you if your Air New Zealand flight is on time, tell the weather and a wealth of other gimmicks, most importantly help automate your smart home by controlling lights and appliances.

All of those things are good and well, however, the best part of it is the fact that Amazon regionalised the product for Australia and New Zealand, making it that much more relevant to the Australasian buyer. Echo has local expressions in it’s vernacular, and has the local sports teams in it’s database. It is also versed on some of the local knowledge like economy, geography and even speaks a wee bit of Te Reo Maori to add more appeal and forge a closer relationship with local shoppers. Amazon is proving that product ideation doesn’t have to be hyper-local, but instead use a global product, personalised through adjustments for local markets.

Disrupt, Innovate

Taking hints from retail innovators such as Apple and Tesla, Mazda New Zealand has rolled out a concept showroom which disrupts the traditional model of the car yard. Leaning on the fact that a lot of kiwis now spend over 10 hours researching their target vehicle online before they turn up for a test drive (already narrowing their choice down to two vehicles), Mazda’s showroom rotates around personalisation and immersive experiences. Since most visitors already know what they want to see, they are taken on a virtual tour of the vehicle and shown a range of personalisation options available for their car. The aim is not to start the sale journey from the beginning, but to delight and seal the deal.

Toyota New Zealand chief executive Alistair Davis has announced a similar approach for Toyota, replacing ‘dealerships’ with ‘stores’. Meaning that the shop floor will not be hosted by traditional sales people but salaried product experts, marking a pivot in the business model.

The obvious point is, as a retailer, FMCG or hospitality brand it is vital to listen to what your market wants. The market needs are aggregated by auditing individual pieces of customer feedback, be it through social media, voice of customer platforms or anecdotal feedback in store. You have to sell what people want to buy, if you don’t - someone else will, so don’t rest on your laurels.

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