It was reported that high streets had noticeably fewer customers on the first day of 2017, and that sales were down 12.7% compared to 2016.
Soon after this, famously well-managed retailer, Next reported struggling profits, fearing a fall of up to 14%, which caused concern across the high street.
Amid further woe, accountancy firm BDO recently released figures for sales in January which has been labelled the worst January of trading for the last four years.
January is traditionally one of the busiest months for trade sales but inflation, price hikes and political uncertainty appears to have seemingly birthed a cautious consumer.
>See also: 4 ways to get personalisation right
However, a BDO spokesperson claimed that “that those with a strong online presence were able to combat falling footfall with strong online sales”.
This proves that purchasing isn’t quite off the cards where technology and convenience are concerned.
Physical stores need not be written off just yet though, further research confirms that 90% of sales are still carried out in bricks and mortar stores, so whilst customers respond positively to the convenience of quick transactions and online discounts, they do still value the consultation of in-store advisors.
Case in point, savvy retailers such as Marks & Spencer are combatting consumer reluctance by implementing technology within their high street stores.
In Marks & Spencer’s, Morrison’s, and Topshop, to name a few, retailers are using tech that tracks the movement of customer’s by identifying signals from their phones.
Stores then send out targeted adverts based on their current location in the store, while also collecting customers’ phone numbers.
There is something to be said about being in-store and being directed to what you want or need on arrival.
It means that customers can carry out an efficient shopping experience without having to forgo the benefits of physical purchases.
Is personalisation key to the winning formula?
Mindtree’s global study has revealed that the vast majority of consumers say that personalisation initiatives cause them to spend more – including on products they have never bought before.
In the survey of 6000 global consumers and 900 industry decision-makers, customers indicated that customised promotions encourage them to buy products and services they have purchased before (78%), as well as relevant products and services they have never purchased (74%).
Further findings revealed that around a fifth of respondents (19%) expect a more personalised customer experience online versus in-store shopping. Investing in personalisation goes beyond solely rewarding the consumer, but also becomes beneficial for the company that deploys it.
Half of organisations in Europe said that providing more targeted promotions has contributed to improved sales over the last 12 months.
Yet companies across the retail, entertainment, banking and travel industries appear to be under-investing in this key area of digital development, with only 28% of the decision makers surveyed say their organisations are investing significantly in personalisation to improve the online purchasing experience.
It’s what you do with the data that counts
Commerce businesses must look to create unique customer personas using the varied digital data streams within the company.
However, where data is concerned, retailers must be mindful to not infringe on customer privacy while providing a tailored service.
Brands such as Boots and Superdrug’s have the right idea by approaching personalisation via loyalty schemes, enabling their customers to select and tailor the offers that they receive while collecting valuable data about each individual.
By taking advantage of this data gold dust, businesses can create unique customer personas and apply analytical models to segment individuals.
This establishes an activation layer that notifies customers with the appropriate and relevant information and offers.
>See also: In-store personalisation: is it creepy or cool?
A ‘code of honour’ should be employed in order to mitigate privacy concerns and encourage customers to feel safe providing their data to receive personalised offers and services.
Bridging the gap between online customer experience and the in store experience is the key to happy customer.
Often the customer walks in and out of the store without any interaction.
Digital and mobile have the power to facilitate in- store sales with the right interfaces and customer insights converting foot falls into revenue.
Sourced by Anil Gandharve, associate VP at Mindtree