Personalized Experiences Across Touchpoints: The Key to Winning the Holiday Season in Today’s Digital World

Personalization has moved past the eCommerce world to include retail touchpoints across online and offline channels. Customers now demand to be met with personalized experiences on their turf and their terms. With traditional differentiation approaches such as strategic pricing and promotions no longer deemed ‘enough’, how can retailers stay relevant and champion the holiday season? The key is to provide contextual and personalized experiences at every point of interaction across the customer’s lifecycle.

Be Present Throughout the Shopping Process

The fundamental of getting omnichannel personalization right this holiday season begins with a clear understanding of the customer. When do they shop? Where do they shop? How do they shop? What influences their buying decisions? These are key questions that will help brands provide the right experience at the right stage. 

To be relevant, brands must provide value to customers WHEN they require it the most.

Brands must be prepared to kickstart the holiday shopping experience early this year. According to Research 451, in a recent survey, 61% of customers stated that their holiday shopping expedition started in the months and weeks leading to the actual sales holidays, i.e., Black Friday/Cyber Monday. 

With shopping already underway, brands need to recognize that customers will be in different stages of the buying process and mobilize personalized campaigns to meet them in their individual journeys.

Facilitate Real-time Omnichannel Interaction

Bolstered by advances in technology, customers now engage with brands over a plethora of channels. Brands must be present, listen, learn, and engage the customer with contextual interaction at each of these preferred touchpoints in real-time. Simply put, customers no longer want to search for product specifications, recommendations, or offers across platforms and devices, instead, they demand these interactions be personalized and tailored to meet them in each moment along their lifecycle. 

Now, more than ever, to thrive in an already crowded and highly competitive landscape, such as retail, brands must provide value WHERE the customer requires it. 

It is also important to acknowledge that customers engage and transact using a mix of devices. According to 451 Research, 66% of customers surveyed chose in-store as their preferred mode of shopping this holiday season, while 51%, 31%, and 27% of customers chose computer web browsers, mobile apps, and mobile web browsers respectively. Brands must provide a seamless and consistent experience as customers transition across platforms and devices to guarantee positive outcomes. 

Enable Seamless Buying Experiences

Customers want to shop based on convenience. In its paper, 451 Research found that while 56% of customers surveyed responded they plan to do their holiday shopping online, 44% stated they would prefer in-store shopping this year. This indicates a shift towards digital.

Customers want the option of online, offline, and even hybrid buying. 

In fact, purchases made online that were then picked up either by the curbside or at the brick-and-mortar store increased by 52%.

With the path to purchase diverging, brands need to provide customers with options to complete their transactions and personalize each interaction thereof. For example, brands can provide information to facilitate a smooth and contactless pick-up experience and send real-time updates.

To gain a competitive advantage this holiday season, brands must provide value to customers HOW they require it. Below we discuss how they should go about this.

Build Trust to Scale Personalization

Data is key to personalizing the customer experience across touchpoints. To provide a contextual and personalized experience, brands must piece together first-party, second-party, and third-party data from multiple sources to create a unified view of the customer. It is this data that is leveraged and synthesized into actionable insights to provide the next best action and enhance the customer experience. 

However, the challenge of data privacy and security can pose a hurdle to brands. 

451 Research found that while 85% of customers preferred privacy over personalization, 43% strongly agree that context for how/why a business uses their data would make them more likely to share it.

To secure this crucial first-party data, brands must provide rewards such as personalized coupons as incentives to improve the customer experience. Further, brands must be transparent about what data is being collected, why it is being collected, and how it is being used within the guidelines stipulated. Brands would also greatly benefit from giving customers the ability to manage their personal preferences.

Configure Personalized Experiences

67% of customer experiences fail to meet customer expectations. 

To win the holiday season, brands must bridge the gap between customer experience and expectation. With 9 out of 10 customers stating having a bad experience will make them less likely to shop with a brand in the future, it puts into perspective the pivotal importance for brands to understand what customers expect this holiday season. 

According to 451 Research, customers’ expectations for the holiday season include product reviews, detailed product information and specs, convenient experience across online, offline, and in-store, better search capabilities, convenient payment options, rich image and video content, personalized experience based on past purchases, and the ability to configure preferences.

To stay relevant and come out on top this holiday season, brands must personalize each expectation based on data (personal, behavioral, and transactional) to provide the right contextual experiences at the right time in each interaction along the customer journey.

Ensure Effective Digital Transformation Strategy

According to 451 Research, there is a correlation between customer experience emphasis and equity returns. With a $305B opportunity available to brands based on 451 Research’s customer experience measure, providing a personalized experience across all touchpoints becomes pivotal. Yet, to bridge the gap between expectation and experience, brands must improve their digital strategy to be more contextualized and personalized. In its paper, 451 Research found that digitally driven businesses demonstrate a composite index that is 3X more effective than those that are lacking. 

If personalized customer experience is to remain a priority, brands must adopt a digitally-driven approach. This would reflect customer experiences that according to 451 Research are:

  • Individualized and managed by algorithmic initiatives.
  • Leverage advanced ML and AI capabilities.
  • Harness real-time 360-degree customer data profiles.
  • Driven by cloud-based processes. 
  • Managed end-to-end across the enterprise.

In summary, to capitalize on the season’s veritable goldmine, brands must ramp up their personalization strategy to build on a solid and adept digital foundation. To truly stand out from the competition this holiday season, brands must invest in digital capabilities that enable real-time, omnichannel, intelligent personalization across touchpoints at scale. 

Learn how Algonomy’s omnichannel personalization platform can help your business.

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