Retailers need to re-think their personalisation strategy. As online adoption starts to slow and retailer loyalty decreases, it's important businesses know what to do. We asked Graham Ralls, Head of Product at preezie, about changes in shopping expectations, the case for hyper-personalisation and the looming issue of privacy.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve entered a new world. What do you expect will be the longer-term shifts in consumer behaviours that result from the current state of the world?
“It’s a lot more about being specific about the needs of customers. They don’t want to play the guessing game. Certainly, they don’t want to browse tonnes of products in order to find something that really meets their needs.
“It’s really about trying to get to engage with a brand with a person on the other end of it. That’s very difficult to do online, so I think that we’re going to see much more of this trend of people reaching out to people, genuine contact happening, and being smarter because of it. It’s all about having a nice, rich experience end-to-end, going all the way down to delivery,” he said.
For the team at preezie, personalisation is all about the data and volume. “People don’t mind telling you about themselves, as long as you do it the right way,” Ralls continued.
Looking at 2019 in a pre-pandemic landscape and today, how has personalisation changed?
“Before everything shut down, people used to have a relationship with online, where they knew they could always go into a store to back up what they thought they would be browsing online. They always knew it was going to be there, so there was a more casual relationship with online [channels]. But as soon as you shut that down, [retailers] need to get a lot smarter about personalisation,” he said.
Ralls explained that there was a knee-jerk reaction to the shutdown of stores in 2020, with retailers asking for personal data such as email addresses, and sending incentives such as promo codes to capture a new audience online, which became ‘very obvious’ to consumers.
“Everyone is discounting continuously, and there is no loyalty anymore,” he said. “The experience has become very incentivised. I mean, you wait a week, and you get another promo code sent to you again. Things have shifted because of that, and [retailers] need to be smarter, because consumers are smarter.”
Graham Ralls, Head of Product at preezie
Talking personalisation. Preezie is famous in the retail scene for its hyper-personalised experience. Could you please explain the difference between personsalition and hyper-personalisation?
“It all starts with understanding what you need to know from your customers and what you want to do with that data,” Ralls said. Finding out certain aspects of the consumer’s day, such as the time it takes for them to get ready in the morning or what beauty items they use in their daily routine, takes away the guesswork for retailers.
“The things that you would normally find out in-store with a sales assistant, you can now do online, and it works,” Ralls explained. “So, hyper-personalisation is next level down; it sounds really manual and hard to do, at scale, but it’s not. It’s the next level, and it totally makes sense.”
What may be some setbacks to a hyper-personalised experience in the wake of a privacy-concerned shopper? Where do you draw the line?
“It all comes down to balance. If a sales assistant in-store would ask that question to try and give you a better experience, you could certainly replace that experience online,” he told Power Retail. Moreover, consumers don’t have to answer these questions if they find them too intrusive. However, to get a better understanding of the consumer and how they operate, retailers need to get on a ‘human’ level.
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