What is Omnichannel Personalization?

Thursday, August 25, 2022

In a post-COVID world, digital experiences encompass a greater share of all retail purchases. But those digital experiences aren’t just happening on the merchant’s website. They’re happening across social media, marketplaces, email, mobile apps, and more. In addition, with the ability to move about more freely as the pandemic recedes, consumers are increasingly expecting to be able to conveniently and effectively do their shopping both online and in-store. This means that the actions they take and interests they demonstrate online should be taken into consideration when they visit a brick and mortar to make for a truly delightful and intuitive shopping experience.

How do retailers stay relevant in the new reality of omnichannel e-commerce? Successful retailers are constantly evolving to adopt newer, smarter ways to offer personalized shopping experiences across channels. These new methods must address meeting customers at every turn – whether digital or in person – and ensuring that they get the same highly personalized and unique experience relevant to their tastes across all those channels.

The rise of omnichannel e-commerce

Omnichannel is a fully-integrated approach to e-commerce. While a multichannel approach refers to being present across various channels as a brand (e.g., the brand has a website as well as a TikTok account, an app, and/or email newsletter that is centered around the business and/or product), omnichannel marketing in e-commerce is focused on meeting the customer where they are.  

Marketers who focus on omnichannel are primarily concerned with creating a unified shopping and brand experience that will benefit their customers. When executed correctly, omnichannel promises a greater return than the sum of its parts.

Omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than single channel shoppers, according to Google.
Meeting your customers wherever they are by using an omnichannel personalization platform can lead to better brand loyalty.

What is omnichannel personalization?

Omnichannel personalization is the practice of gathering a customer’s preferences from one channel and creating personalized shopping experiences for them on another channel.

For example, when a customer shops in-store, retailers can gather intelligence about that customer’s preferences, such as their shirt size or their taste in footwear. Armed with that information, retailers can personalize that individual customer’s online experience to show them the products they’re most likely to engage with. That way, when that customer shops online, they will discover relevant products more quickly.

The same is true in reverse. Online interactions such as purchases, adds to cart, or “save for later,” can inform which products should be shown to that customer when they’re in-store or via email and SMS.

Why are retailers focusing on omnichannel personalization?

As more commerce channels become available, omnichannel personalization becomes increasingly relevant - and advantageous.

For retailers, there are many benefits of a strong omnichannel personalization strategy:

Better conversion rate. Customers convert more quickly when they are able to find products they’re interested in. This is particularly relevant for retailers with a high SKU count.

More effective email and SMS. When those channels contain personalized product recommendations, customers are more likely to interact with the brand again. This can be measured by Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and over time by number of returning visitors per month.

Greater brand loyalty. Retailers benefit from creating high-quality customer experiences, no matter the touchpoint. In effect, those customers feel that the brand simply “knows” what they like.

73% of shoppers purchase both in-store and online, according to a Harvard Business Review survey.

Tactics for a successful omnichannel personalization strategy

While it can be beneficial to personalize the omnichannel experience, it’s also important to know which channels allow for personalization. While social media and marketplace platforms have limited personalization options, there are a wealth of personalization options available for retailers.

1. Send personalized product recommendations via email & SMS

Personalized email and SMS are a cornerstone in every successful omnichannel strategy.  Retailers can send personalized product recommendations to each customer via email and SMS for a variety of purposes:

• Re-engage visitors after an abandoned cart

• Alert customers when a relevant product goes on sale

• Promote new product launches to relevant customers

• Send individualized offers such as sales or discounts to aid conversion

For instance, Braze and Klaviyo are two customer engagement platforms that allow for personalization. Paired with the Crossing Minds integration, retailers can start personalizing those channels immediately.

2. Capture in-store shopping behavior

The vast majority of shoppers are hybrid shoppers, meaning they will shop in-store and online. Therefore, a major opportunity exists to use in-store shopping behavior to personalize the online experience.

When a customer checks out in-store, they are providing valuable signal to the business that can drive even more conversions. Retailers can continue leveraging that signal by having them sign into an account - like a loyalty program - and capture that shopping behavior in their Customer Data Platform (CDP). 

Armed with that information, they can send similar product suggestions to that customer when they visit the online store, and via email, SMS, and mobile apps.

3. Leverage online shopping intelligence for in-store experiences

When a customer clicks, saves, adds to cart, or purchases an item, they are expressing their interest in an item. Successful retailers are capturing that intelligence with an omnichannel personalization platform.

Omnichannel magic happens when retailers can bring that intelligence to the in-store shopping experience as well. There are several ways that retailers can leverage this intelligence through blue-sky opportunities. For example:

• Personalized upsell and cross-sell served in a checkout line

• Customers using an app with geospatial technology could be served recommendations and discounts when approaching certain products

• In-store barcode kiosks can help customers find related products

In a new pilot launched in July 2022, Best Buy launched a digital-first store. Upon entering the store, patrons scan a QR code, which enables Best Buy to connect their digital and in-person experiences. With that info, Best Buy can guide customers to certain items and enhance their in-person shopping experience with digital recommendations. Best Buy effectively bridged the gap between online & in-store shopping experiences.

How to start personalizing your omnichannel brand

• Identify key personalized touchpoints. Which touchpoints should be personalized for each customer? Many retailers & e-commerce merchants start with email & SMS, which can be personalized according to a customer’s expressed interests.

• Use an omnichannel personalization platform. For example, the Crossing Minds platform will predict which products a customer is most interested in, enabling you to personalize touchpoints with products they’re likely to purchase.

• Choose your metrics for success. Carefully choosing your KPIs will be key. When considering omnichannel personalization, many retailers begin to measure their success with Conversion Rate, Returning Users per Month, and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

As new platforms unveil e-commerce capabilities, options will increase for omnichannel marketers to reach their customers. They must continue to adopt those new channels strategically. By employing smart personalization tactics, marketers can ensure that their customers are truly engaged at every touchpoint.

Isaac is a marketing leader with proven experience building and executing B2B go-to-market strategies. As the Head of Demand Generation, Isaac is focused on building awareness and adoption through digital marketing, content, events, and partnerships. Prior to joining Crossing Minds, Isaac led Lead Generation at Sentropy (acquired by Discord) and the Communications & Marketing team at the Pan American Development Foundation, where he spearheaded anti-xenophobia campaigns with international celebrities. Isaac currently lives in San Francisco and is passionate about learning languages and traversing California's coastline on a motorcycle.

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