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 Today’s connected consumers want real-time messages and in-the-moment offers and recommendations that reflect their very individual interests and needs says Annie Abrams. No surprise, when you consider how the digital revolution has changed the way this generation of smartphone wielding consumers shop.

Used to having information at their fingertips and being connected to everything – and everyone – all of the time, they’ll happily Google a product while browsing in-store, log into a retail app to download vouchers or check-in to social media to see what others think of a prospective purchase.

But that’s not all. They also expect retailers to bridge the omnichannel gap and instantly recognise them, whatever channel they’re currently using to shop. And the growing popularity of wearable devices is set to take the challenge of gaining a comprehensive view of an individual’s activities and preferences across all channels to the next level.

Joining the dots to deliver in-the-moment personalisation

Gaining a single view of the customer is no easy task. But according to the recent DigitasLBi 2015 Connected Commerce study of retail trends, shoppers around the world increasingly expect a seamless omnichannel and multi-screen experience from brands and retailers.

The research shows that the average consumer now uses a total of five devices when making a purchase. What’s more, as well as computers, smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, consumers are also rapidly embracing wearable technologies, with 17% of shoppers saying they now own a wearable device.

Many retailers already recognise that mobile is the platform of choice for bargain hunters on the go – a trend that’s confirmed by the 85% of consumers who told DigitasLBi they use their smartphones in-store. But wearable technology has the potential to change the rules of the game once more.

The challenge for brands and retailers is how to go about leveraging their mobile strategy – and by extension, wearable tech – to bring the offline and online worlds closer together to unleash a world of new personalisation tactics that drives online and offline sales.

Personalisation – a key driver to online and offline sales

Today’s ‘Generation Tech’ is intolerant of any inconvenience or barrier to intent – they crave more interesting, more dynamic experiences that are event driven and all about their needs.

Done properly, personalisation is big business. It can drive greater customer loyalty – and increased purchasing. Because, as the DigitasLBi Connected Commerce survey shows, personalising the shopping experience – and making it more convenient – is the surest way to the consumer’s pocket.

Regardless of channel, 62% of respondents who participated in the survey confirmed that they buy more, and more frequently, when they encounter a personalised retail experience. A further 87% said they’ll log into an e-commerce website to actively look for personalised offers – with 78% saying they buy more often as a result, and 76% saying they buy more products. What’s more, 50% said that, as a result of a personalised recommendation, they’d bought products they previously would not have considered.

But the demand for personalisation goes beyond the online experience. Today’s connected shoppers are eager to reap the rewards of being recognised – it’s why 57% say they’d be happy to be identified in-store if they benefited from a personalised offer.

Making the in-store experience more agile and connected

Personalising the retail experience, and tailoring it to the needs of individual shoppers, is a sure-fire way to attract more customers and boost profits – both online and in-store. Achieving this goal, however, will mean retailers and brands will need to get smarter about using data in order to personalise the shopping experience and increase sales performance.

Until now the big personalisation challenge has hinged on the ability to deliver real-time personalised offers to shoppers the moment they step in-store. The advent of wearables will usher in a new level of hyper-interconnected retail in which retailers will need to be able to ‘join the dots’ between an individual’s pre-store and in-store behaviours to deliver an enhanced customer shopping experience.

The pressure is now on to design in-store and mobile services that make life as easy as possible for shoppers and enable the delivery of consumer-centred experiences. That means being able to orchestrate big data about a customer’s known website browsing and purchasing history, alongside mobile app and social media feeds to deliver advanced recommendations and personalisations based on predicted behaviours and interests.

So, based on their online behaviours, it should be possible to deliver a targeted offer or discount voucher the moment a shopper steps in-store.

Elevating and personalising service delivery

Leveraging the power of mobile APIs, retailers will enable more real-time input into purchasing decisions and deliver highly personalised offers and solutions. As stores sync with a shopper’s wearable device, they’ll be able to use shopping histories and personal preferences alongside social trending data to deliver an even greater hyper-personalised experience.

The opportunities are extensive – from on the spot pricing and rewards to notifications that the shoes a shopper viewed on line are in-store and in-stock in their size.

What’s more, retailers and brands will be able to leverage geo-targeting data to direct shoppers to nearby stores with time-sensitive incentive offers. Once in-store, retailers can deliver targeted interactions to shoppers when in aisle – from helping to locate specific products on the shop floor to alternate recommendations that enable shoppers  to select the right product for their needs.

Wearables also open the way for retailers and brands to collect accurate data on an individual’s life styles and preferences in order to better predict which notifications, services and products might complement these interests.

The future of retail is personalisation and retailers will need to address the big data challenge, harnessing all their channels to deliver highly targeted, location, device and channel relevant promotions, in real-time. This will eenable the e-commerce and in-store shopping experience to grow closer and align with customer expectations.

AnnieAbrams_Headshot1  Annie Abrams is Head of Client Services at DigitasLBi Commerce

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