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The Reality of Personalization Series, Part 3: Omnichannel Retail: It’s Here. It’s Real. It’s Personal!

The Reality of Personalization Series, Part 3: Omnichannel Retail: It’s Here. It’s Real. It’s Personal!

In part 1 and part 2 of the Reality of Personalization we reviewed a breakdown of personalization techniques and how to achieve deep-level personalization. Determining the best personalization method for your business is an essential step in developing a complete strategy for spanning personalization across channels, and ultimately creating a seamless omnichannel experience.

Purchasing decisions are no longer exclusive to one channel. Prior to buying, consumers access multiple points for product information and comparison shopping. How many times have you been in a store and witnessed shoppers on their mobile phone scanning bar codes and looking up products? How many times have you done this yourself? Researching products, showrooming and looking for deals prior to making a purchase are all a part of the modern buying process. To this end, it is more important than ever to ensure that you get the right product and offers in front of consumers at the right time, and that interaction with your brand and individual products is consistent across all channels.

Previously defined as recommendations, personalization has become synonymous with the customer journey and is fundamental to achieving omnichannel success. As the buying process has expanded in complexity, with technology providing retailers more opportunity than ever before to reach consumers, the expectation placed on retailers has evolved. Today’s connected consumer expects information to be available at their fingertips. Whether at home, on their computer, scanning an email offer, searching from their mobile device, browsing a store aisle or reaching out to customer service, they expect retailers to guide them through the vast number of available options to help them find just the right product. A disjointed experience from one channel to the next leads to frustration that can prompt them to go elsewhere. Personalization is the conduit for meeting the customer’s expectation for finding the right product, and the glue that ties channels together, harmonizing data across all customer touch points to create a seamless omnichannel experience as consumers journey through the buying process.

Consumer Buying Process Applied to Channels


Example of How a Consumer Might Journey Through The Buying Process


Creating a seamless customer journey requires that businesses go through a journey of their own. First, embracing personalization as more than an enhancement, but rather a long-term corporate strategy, is necessary to gaining a competitive advantage and is imperative to omnichannel success. In addition, there are definitive steps that can be taken to build a foundation for omnichannel personalization. These steps will vary depending on where your business is with data collection, channel implementation and your current personalization methodology, but the elements that support a successful omnichannel personalization strategy remain the same.

C-Level Support 

Organizational and cultural changes are typically a part of moving to omnichannel. These types of changes usually require the support of, and are often driven by, executive management:

  1. Developing a Vision and Strategy – Moving to omnichannel is usually not a singular implementation, but a journey through multiple implementations that lead to a complete omnichannel approach. Developing an overarching vision and communicating a clear strategy for achieving this vision is necessary for structuring the organization to achieve omnichannel success.
  2. Establishing Business Objectives – Channel business objectives should be clearly defined and consistent across the organization with proper alignment to support omnichannel goals, such as, enhancing the customer experience and increasing customer loyalty, retention, lifetime value, acquisitions and overall revenue.
  3. Allocating Necessary Resources– Deploying technology that supports the omnichannel vision, partnering with top tier providers and assigning internal resources are essential to building the groundwork for efficiency and success.
  4. Breaking Down Silos – Business units that support each channel often operate independently of one another. A convergence of these units, their goals and success drivers is essential to a comprehensive omnichannel strategy.
  5. Democratizing Data – In order to create a complete view of each customer and deliver a seamless personalized experience, data must be interconnected across channels. For example, data collected at POS and through reward cards should be available for online profiling and vice versa.

Personalization Evaluation

The most well planned omnichannel strategy cannot succeed in creating the seamless experience that consumers have come to expect without personalization. Making sense of your of your data, leveraging it to deliver individualized customer experiences and harmonizing those experiences across all channels is the job of personalization, and the purpose of moving to omnichannel. Make sure that your strategy includes a personalization solution that can do the following:

  1. Deliver True Personalization – Beyond wisdom of the crowd and testing and targeting, you want a solution that creates a clear picture of each unique shopper to predict and deliver the most individualized experience. This should include deep customer profiling as a source of historical behavioral data, and real-time data collection and delivery for responding in the moment with the most relevant content, creative and recommendations.
  2. Offer Flexibility and Ease of Use – Business rules should be flexible and enable you to curate personalization strategies for achieving your specific business goals. In depth testing and analytics should be easily accessible for optimizing personalization strategies throughout channels as your omnichannel business evolves.
  3. Provide Ease of Implementation – The implementation process should be guided by a team of experts to offer the most efficient means of deploying personalization. Your provider should be partnered with top tier technology partners to offer easy integration with channel platforms, and have the ability to work with internal platforms.
  4. Supply Continuous Advice and Expertise – Guidance should not end after implementation. Your provider should act as a partner, providing advice on best practices, recommendations specific to your business goals and ongoing innovations to keep you at the forefront of personalization evolution.

Channel Implementation

Most businesses are not prepared to make an immediate move to omnichannel. As the saying goes, “don’t try to boil the ocean”. Take a phased approach where you can test and collect learning’s as you build out your omnichannel personalization strategy. Most business begin with web and/or email personalization, then move into mobile, contact center and lastly, in store. It is important to determine the order of channel implementation that makes the most sense for your business. Below are some considerations:

  1. Consumer Demand – Evaluate market trends for your industry to determine the channels to which your target market levitates. This includes not just the channel in which they purchase, but where they reach out for product information, ratings, reviews, and comparison shopping.
  2. Your Customers’ Desires – Analyze the purchase, browse and behavioral patterns of your customer base to determine the channels that are most important to them.
  3. Resources and Funding – Identify channels that are appropriately sourced with technology, staff and budget for moving forward immediately.
  4. Best ROI – Determine the channels that will provide the most immediate return on your investment.
  5. Ease of Implementation – Pinpoint channels in which personalization can be easily implemented. These may include areas where platforms are in place for easy integration, where minimal IT involvement is required or a combination of these and other factors.

Omnichannel is no longer what’s in the future for retail. It’s here today. The reality is that consumers already search and shop in every channel, and they expect their experiences to be seamless and personal. To learn more about developing an omnichannel personalization strategy, including the five functional requirements for omnichannel success, download Certona’s white paper entitled, The Power of Omnichannel Personalization.