Personalization: The heart of the retail revolution

Anna Arwidi

“The customer is always right” has long been every retailer’s mantra. But with more stock and larger stores to maintain and manage, focusing on customers can be tricky amongst the operational requirements retail staff face daily.

Customers are easily attracted through floor tactics such as in store events, having more dynamic in-store experiences and personalized promotions. This level of customer service is something that is now expected by customers, so should be a key focus for retailers.

Back in the days when people shopped locally and knew each store keeper by name, it was easy to encourage loyalty through giving them a personal experience. However, in the era of retailtainment, customers flock to malls, not just to buy something, but for the overall experience, such as socializing with friends, eating, playing sports, looking at new seasonal displays and even (at special events) meeting celebrities. While this is good for generating footfall and increasing the amount of potential money to be spent, it is increasingly difficult to connect with these anonymous customers. By not knowing who is likely to be near a store, it is hard to deliver an exceptional in-store experience and personalized promotions, which may in turn lead to missed sales opportunities.

Rarely is technology seen as a mean to deliver the human touch, but in this blog post we will look at how technology can help fashion retailers understand customer needs and manage the everyday running of the store, so their sales clerks can focus on engaging with customers.

It’s good to talk

One of the key benefits for shoppers visiting a fashion store to make a purchase is seeing the product in real life, being able to try it on and getting style suggestions. Plus there’s the added benefit of expert advice, improving – and personalizing – the customer experience.

A well-trained sales assistant will know which cuts flatter certain body types, the colors that would bring out someone’s complexion, as well as being realistic about what fits that individual’s budget. Having this insight can not only secure a sale – and a happy shopper – on the day, it can encourage customers to return when they get compliments on their outfit and prompt others to shop there.

However, the key for shop assistants is finding that sweet spot between offering help proactively, being available, and knowing when to keep a distance. A recent survey from Axis, conducted in partnership with GfK, found that 67% customers in New York would leave without making a purchase if they couldn’t find what they were looking for. Further, both shoppers in New York and Shanghai rated being able to get an overview of the store’s assortment as very important (88% and 76% respectively). Having sales representatives who are able to serve customers and identify customer needs and provide positive interactions will lead to an increase in sales and raise the chances of a customer repeat purchasing due to a good in-store experience.

How technology can help face to face shopping assistance

So how can sales staff make the call to step in? Technologies such as cameras with on-board analytics can help make this call.

For example, a camera deployed with analytics can detect movements in an area of a store and notify staff as the amount of time spent can indicate that the customer is in the process of making a purchase decision or needs assistance.

Technology can also be used to aid the efficiency of some of the operational tasks that contribute to a better personal experience for customers. For example, smart surveillance and audio solutions can improve customer service by detecting where there are shorter lines and directing shoppers to a faster checkout line.

Analytics can also be used to monitor stock and alert staff to low or absent stock on the shop floor. This means retailers can re-stock to ensure the availability of products improving the customer experience.

Keeping customers in focus

By taking the load off staff to monitor these factors, shop assistants have more capacity to deliver exceptional customer service with personal and value adding customer interactions. Taking the time to find out what customers really want raises the chances for increased sales and customer experience. This is especially crucial since the mood of assistants also plays a big role in the overall shopping experience. The above-mentioned survey from Axis found that in Shanghai, 81% of the shoppers think it is important that shop assistants contribute to a good atmosphere.

You can read more about how technology can aid the retail experience here.

Store optimization

Download and read our consumer survey report here.