Unlocking the personalisation of retail customer experiences


By Mike Kiersey, Head of the EMEA Technology Organisation, Boomi.
In 2022, Merkle, a prominent customer relationship management agency, conducted a study that corroborated a widely-held belief within the retail industry: personalisation enhances customer loyalty and generates greater revenue. 
According to the study, 86% of consumers value personalised offers highly. Despite having access to a variety of customer data, such as demographics, browsing history, channel preferences, and mobile app usage, smaller retail businesses are not utilising personalisation as effectively as their larger competitors. They are also struggling to deliver personalised messages through the appropriate channels.

The solution to the problem faced by numerous small retailers lies within the data they possess. It is often scattered, inconsistent, and stored in several separate systems, making it difficult to obtain a comprehensive and unified view of their customers.

Why Attempts at Personalisation Deliver Mixed Results

Retailers have embarked on multiple approaches to counteract this challenge, including amalgamating customer data into a unified foundation. However, this complex process demands significant effort and resources and typically takes IT teams several months as they must manually integrate data and applications. 

Even then, if the initial data quality is subpar, the frequency of off-target messages that could harm brand reputation will rise.

Further complicating matters is that personalisation efforts are generally restricted to a specific business unit, such as marketing. Personalisation results will always be suboptimal unless the data is integrated across all business units and the entire omnichannel customer ecosystem.

Due to the frequency of changes in business applications, large retailers regularly employ multiple systems for various purposes, from eCommerce and merchandising to loyalty and customer service. When these retailers update to newer systems, they are then forced to recreate their fragile integrations from scratch.

The Goal of Omnichannel Personalisation 

As personalisation challenges continue to persist, the increasingly sophisticated integration p latform as a s ervice (iPaaS) market is emerging as a compelling solution.
Leading iPaaS solutions offer retailers intelligent connectivity and automation that can dismantle inflexible data silos, expedite business processes, and unleash the full potential of data - essential capabilities in the advancement of personalisation.

For instance, swiftly deployed and modern turnkey solutions provide data frameworks that enable the prompt creation of personalised omnichannel customer journeys that are comprehensive, consistent, and timely.

Comprehensive. To achieve omnichannel personalisation, retailers collect customer interaction data from all touchpoints, not just those necessary for specific functions like eCommerce or brick-and-mortar stores.

Consistent. Discrepancies will inevitably exist in data stored in different applications, with customer contact details and names changing over time. However, by utilising iPaaS data capabilities, retailers can compile, cleanse, and augment isolated data into standardised records, providing a unified and accurate overview.

Timely. Retailers can significantly enhance personalisation returns by engaging in " personalisation with purpose ," which presents customers with offers as they browse products. iPaaS solutions supply personalisation tools with near-real-time user activity data, facilitating direct outreach through multiple channels. As a result, engagement, revenue, and customer loyalty are all enhanced.

Building a Data-Centric Culture

While iPaaS solutions can significantly advance personalisation efforts, their potential is restricted if the retailer's business culture is not wholly immersed in its data.
Nonetheless, embracing a data-centric culture comes with its own set of challenges. Outdated systems frequently lack support for modern data analysis tools, and opposition to change among employees is often widespread.

The solution to this dilemma lies in providing the workforce with the appropriate training or recruiting external partners with expertise in data analytics and culture implementation.
Another alternative is to reassess recruitment strategies. Employing data specialists can enhance comprehension of customer behaviour and preferences, allowing for more precise identification of trends and patterns and resulting in more informed decision-making.

Rethinking Retail’s Innovation Priorities

Innovation within the retail industry has traditionally prioritised front-end customer experience applications. As a result, when the C-suite evaluates technology investments, this emphasis often comes at the expense of back-end systems, such as integration platforms.

With front-end applications so reliant on integrating with other systems in the retail ecosystem, it makes for a mystifying trend. Ignoring the back-end systems, including integration platforms, can lead to even the most advanced front-end applications missing their full potential.

Even though customer expectations constantly evolve, the significance of instilling data-centric cultures is routinely overlooked. Therefore, it is up to departmental leaders to promote the use of tools that offer data insights for enhanced personalisation and to hire skilled personnel who can effectively utilise them.

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