Though personalization software can automatically give marketers a more complete picture of their customers, CMOs still play a crucial role in balancing the technology’s scale with its relevance. This article explores some of the questions businesses may encounter in their personalization journey – such as how to treat “dark” social data – and gives insight from a unique perspective.
PepsiCo exec Brad Jakeman went off on advertisers, criticizing them for unoriginality, outdated ways of thinking based on the dying TV model, and for an overabundance of “white straight males.”
But in terms of online retail, personalization is not always executed as well as it can (or should) be.
One of the biggest speed bumps in retail shopping online is determining a customer’s perfect size and fit. When shopping at brick-and-mortars, customers can tell whether an item fits by trying it on. However, the inability to physically model the clothing yourself is a huge caveat of online shopping at today’s top retailers.
However, there are a couple different ways that companies are tackling this problem.
Voluntarily sharing personal data
Determining which size fits best is often done by looking at the clothing’s measurements or relying on past purchases from similar retailers. However, both of these options can be problematic.
Let’s be realistic – how many shoppers actually use those measurements to determine which size is their best fit? Oftentimes, this can be too much effort to figure out. This is why most customers simply rely on the size they typically wear.
But while many customers have a standard size, retailers occasionally size differently from one another. Someone who wears a size XS pants at one store may burst out of XS shorts at a different retailer.
A scale that shows whether pieces run small or large can help fix this problem; however, this is not the only solution.
The best way to confront sizing disparity is by implementing a personalized sizing feature into your site. Sites with features like these are often customer favorites. Customers can feel confident with their purchase without worrying about the hassles of returning products. This feature gives customers a sense of security about making orders, which increases individual orders and draws in new customers.
So how does a retailer go about implementing a sizing feature? Consider the work from an expert: Lilly Pulitzer.
Click on the images to enlarge and learn about Lilly’s True to Fit feature.
Lilly Pulitzer helps customers unsure about their particular size by asking for their personal data. This data includes a customer’s height, sizing in other brands, and body shape. Lilly Pulitzer uses this data to evaluate which size is best for the customer. This feature also considers other sizes for the shopper, and explains which parts of a clothing item may fit poorly. Shoppers can save their profile, which comes in handy when checking sizing for other Lilly products.
Virtual fitting rooms
Retailers who more digitally inclined may have the option to utilize a new, exciting service. The UK-based company Fits.me works with retailers to create a virtual fitting room for shoppers. This is similar to Lilly Pulitzer, but much more visual. The feature projects how different clothing items would fit on one’s specific body measurements. After a shopper selects the fit they like best, he or she can proceed to customize the clothing item.
Fits.me is an innovative concept that has yet to make its way into U.S. retail. These virtual fitting rooms are available in Europe, but with the United States’ strong eCommerce market I expect features like Fits.me to come across the pond soon enough.
In less than five years, one marketing strategy has evolved from an unfamiliar concept, to a trendy buzzword, to a crucial component for successful marketing. Omnichannel marketing is one of the fastest-growing concepts for retailers and consumers alike.
Omnichannel is about continuing a consumer’s shopping experience across multiple platforms. Retailers must integrate every available channel to create a seamless shopping experience for customers. Omnichannel aims to encourage evaluation and interaction between a customer and the retailer.
The concept of omnichannel was first introduced to the marketing world in 2010. The term was devised to describe a shopping experience that extends beyond multi-channel retailing. An ideal omnichannel shopping experience would be accessible to customers on all platforms, from traditional brick-and-mortars to the digital world of text message, emails, and online shopping.
In September 2010, a report from IDC Retail Insights predicted a strong reliance on omnichannel for successful marketers in years to come. According to the report, retailers utilizing multichannel strategies in 2010 saw a 15-35% increase in average transaction size, along with a 5-10% increase in loyalty customers’ profitability. IDC cited the growing ecommerce market as the key reason retailers needed to implement omnichannel strategies.
Despite its introduction nearly 5 years ago, omnichannel didn’t receive much attention until a few years later. In 2013, “omnichannel” became a buzzword for marketers and consumers alike.
A 2013 article in Huffington Post attributed the rise of omnichannel to the increase of smartphones. Shoppers with smartphones are showrooming, or using their mobile devices to research competitive pricing while in a store and purchasing a cheaper option later on a laptop or tablet. As Smartphone sales continue to completely overshadow traditional cell phone sales, showrooming continues to increase, promoting more retailers to implement omnichannel practices.
This past year, the concept has further evolved. Omnichannel has morphed from a “buzzword” into a necessity for retailers that want to stay competitive.
In early 2014, Marketing Land called omnichannel a “must” for brands and retailers. Citing a report by MIT, they argued that omnichannel consumers are the “central force shaping the future of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores alike.”
Similar to the IDC and Huffington Post, Marketing Land attributes the rise of omnichannel marketing to the digital age. The MIT report found that $12 billion retail sales were made on Smartphones, and $1.1 trillion store sales were influenced by the web. These findings show that consumers are using multiple platforms to enhance their shopping experiences.
Retailers are also proving that omnichannel marketing is imperative for survival in the competitive free market. A look at J.C. Penney’s marketing strategy from 2011-2014 is a prime example of omnichannel’s impact on sales.
Originally hoping to keep online sales strategies separate from in-store sales strategies in 2011, J.C. Penney experienced a massive 32% decline in sales. In 2013, the company evaluated their business strategy, recognizing that separating online from in-store sales was detrimental to their success. Upon implementing an omnichannel strategy merging the two platforms, J.C. Penney saw a 6% increase in e-commerce sales in 2013 and a 26% increase in the beginning of 2014.
Omnichannel marketing is likely to remain relevant in years to come. A Forrester Research report predicts mobile commerce to grow 33% annually for the next three years, fueled by thee rise of Smartphone sales and usage. The report also expects an 89% increase in retailers that integrate mobile technology in-store. As omnichannel has become essential for retailers, it is imperative to understand the concept and its implications. In doing so, businesses will be able to reach their full potential and achieve success in today’s competitive marketing world.
The most recent retail sales figures from February surprised most people. Everyone expected a modest increase because of the expiration of the payroll tax holiday. But, WHOA, they were much better than the future prognosticators’ expectations. And the biggest winner? Amazon, eCommerce. Everything from a-z indeed.
Slate magazine said it best in their tweet: “Retail sales were up in February as Amazon just KILLED department stores.” According to Slate, general merchandisers (including department stores) saw sales declines of 4% while Amazon eCommerce saw 14% sales increases.
So now the question is why? Why is Amazon eCommerce doing so well while similar brick-and-mortar stores aren’t? Let’s look at what Amazon does well:
They have a vast assortment, yet it’s relatively easy to find what you want in a very short amount of time.
You get your order when Amazon says you will and in the condition they say.
They offer adjunct services to keep you in the Amazon family (and website), like Prime, which not only gives you free shipping but lets you watch shows for free.
They allow you to shop on amazon on every device imaginable.
Customer service responds to your questions or concerns very quickly.
Returns are simple.
In other words, Amazon eCommerce makes the shopping experience easy, consistent and pleasurable.
But other department stores with online stores do this too, right? Many of them do.
And many argued vociferously, as recently as a few months ago, that the reason Amazon was winning was because of the price advantage related to not having to charge taxes. Well, guess what? Amazon has started charging sales taxes and they’re STILL winning.
Could it be that not only do they make it easy, consistent and pleasurable, but they connect with us, the customers, because they seem to KNOW us? How often have you gone to Amazon.com to browse for one thing and ended up buying more than you expected? I have. Lots. And I contend that it’s because they always seem to know what I need (okay, it’s want). Regardless, I always buy more than I probably should because I like what Amazon recommends for me. I like how they personalize my shopping experience.