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Driving customer engagement inside and out of the store through personalized digital experiences

By Luke Shave, Global Industry Marketing Lead, CPG and Retail, Microsoft on October 11, 2016

Filed under Retail & Consumer Goods

Until recently, shopping for anything from electronics to paint color would have required a trip to the store. You might have browsed the aisles to weigh up your options, chatted with a salesperson, and visited other stores to compare products before returning to make a purchase. If you visited a shop frequently enough, the staff might have learned your preferences and suggested items based on your interests – but it is unlikely. Even if you did build a rapport with employees over time, that relationship would be lost with staff turnover.

E-commerce has made it easy to avoid the crowds and get a good deal by browsing and buying online. Consumers can now compare prices, features, and peer reviews from anywhere on any device, and get what they need without ever visiting a physical store.

Online retailers also generate personalized recommendations that keep customers coming back. Increasingly, consumers have come to expect the kind of personalization they get from companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify. A recent Infosys survey reported that 78% of consumers are more likely to be a repeat customer if a retailer provides them with targeted, personalized offers.

As the old retail model recedes further into the past, brick-and-mortar stores must offer customers an experience that matches the tailored service they get online and dovetails seamlessly with digital channels. According to RetailNext, 84% of customers believe retailers should be doing more to integrate online and offline channels. The question is: how can retailers meet these expectations?

Making true retail personalization a reality

For many years, retailers have been devising their own ways to pull customer data and incentivize purchases with membership and rewards programs. But due to the rise of omni-channel shopping and social media, they need to make sense of more data – from more sources – than ever before. Turning massive amounts of data from disparate sources into personalized offers requires highly sophisticated analysis. Microsoft and Plexure are introducing a solution that gives retailers the tools to deliver personalized retail in a way that truly sets them apart.

Plexure’s Retail Personalization solution leverages customer data to engage customers, empower employees, and optimize operations. It collects and analyzes data from websites, mobile, point-of-sale and connected in-store technology to tailor offers to individual customers or customer segments. It also arms store employees with cross-channel customer history in a single, unified view that makes it easy to deliver outstanding customer service.

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Source: Customers 2020 Report by Walker Information

Personalized offers give each individual customer the deals that are most relevant to them, which increases their spending and drives return visits. Plexure tailors offers using data like past purchases, special offers redeemed, and previous store visits in addition to real-time data like location, weather conditions, and local events. A global convenience store retailer working with Plexure increased mobile transactions by 73% by targeting customers based on their spending habits and digital behavior.

Consider a travel blogger who has been browsing for new hiking boots from home. She receives an email with a personalized in-store discount for 15% off boots. When she arrives at the store, a wireless beacon device triggers another notification through the retailer’s app, because she has opted to share her location. This second offer is for $50 off luggage – a promotion selected for her because of her frequent travels. The sales associate can see a complete view of her purchase history and recommends options she is likely to buy, and she leaves satisfied with both of her purchases.

Plexure launch blog graphic 2016 10 07e

As seen in the image above, centralized customer data also empowers retail employees to create better in-store experiences. When sales associates have more a complete picture of a customer’s preferences, they can recommend the most appealing products and promotions for that customer. This opens the door for cross-sell and upsell opportunities that would otherwise be missed. It also helps retailers avoid inundating customers with duplicate offers across channels. Thanks to Microsoft cloud technology, sales reps have access to real-time data anywhere in the store.

Finally, retailers are able to optimize their operations and become more data-driven with Plexure Retail Personalization. By predicting consumer trends and purchasing patterns, stores can be sure to keep the correct items in stock.

Retailers that don’t take action on personalization are risking lower customer satisfaction and stagnant revenue. With Retail Personalization from Microsoft and Plexure, businesses have the keys to increase loyalty and profitability today and in the future.

Try it yourself

Want to learn more about Retail Personalization? Try the preview solution at www.AppSource.com today.

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