With Victoria in lockdown and other parts of Australia on high alert, many shopaholics are forced to turn to the “online shopping centre” in order to scratch their shopping itch. It’s no secret, the online environment is vastly different and more competitive than its physical counterpart, with shoppers able to effortlessly discover a number of stores at the one time and just as easily “walk out the exit”. This new era presents a unique opportunity for many retailers to obtain new customer segments.

Competitive prices can only go so far and consumers shopping online expect a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint. Delivering a positive experience hinges on creating a personalised user journey for each individual customer. With competition for customers so fierce, getting this right is crucial.

Here’s a four-step personalisation checklist for retailers.

1. Gather information on an individual level

Retailers should look to capture customer specific information at every stage of their journey. This means by the time they arrive onsite; you know what they want. Critical information includes profile data, historical purchases, browsing behaviour and location. These pieces of information are known as customer behaviour signals and provide insights into the customer’s preferences, needs and intent. Without this data, an organisation’s personalisation efforts will fall flat.

In addition, signals identify where the customer is in their journey, and helps determine the “next best action”—whether that’s offering more information on a product or suggesting accessories for a recent purchase.

2. React in real-time

It’s widely known that assumption is the mother of all failures. Therefore, assuming a customer’s needs and/or behaviour is a risky road to take. If we look at the COVID-19 pandemic, the line “no one could have predicted this” is often used. Instead of assuming, retailers should glean insights from data and identify trends that inform promotions, recommendations, search results, landing pages, product offers and filters. For example, as many people work from home, there’s less demand for jeans and corporate attire, while desire for athleisure and “comfort clothing” has increased—this trend could hardly have been predicted at the start of this year.

3. Recognise and respond to the customer’s omni-channel journey

Rarely is a path-to-purchase a linear journey, as consumers often have multiple interactions and touchpoints before deciding to purchase. For example, they may click through a marketing email on their phone, before researching further on their PC and finally make the purchase on their tablet. As a result, retailers must follow consumers across every channel and avoid isolating them to a specific platform. This avoids the customer experience coming across disjointed and clunky, which could ultimately cost the business sales.

By doing this, businesses are positioning themselves well to deliver an effective and accurate personalised experience.

4. Measure performance

As with every initiative and strategy within a business, it’s important to measure performance and look at the value each activity is bringing to both customers and the business. If the performance indicates personalisation isn’t working, leaders should make changes with the view of optimising results. As with many technology-driven programs, personalisation is not a “set-and-forget” activity; it should always be monitored and fine-tuned to ensure maximum value is obtained.

Personalisation is the key to delivering a positive customer experience. It tells the customer that the business understands who they are and what they want. Consumers are savvy and as such, should be treated as a unique individual rather than just another click on the website. By providing customers with a memorable experience for all the right reasons, one-time shoppers will become return customers for the long-term.

Scott Ho is vice president for Asia Pacific and Japan at Lucidworks