Magic Moments This Holiday Bring Customers and Products Together
A true understanding of a shopper means that a retailer needs to decipher his/her preferences across every facet of their interaction with that brand. One study found that 73 percent of online consumers expect companies to understand their unique needs, up from 66 percent two years earlier. The concept of “understanding unique needs” goes beyond simple personalization that takes into account generally available demographics or recent purchases.
Meeting shoppers’ unique needs also requires a more granular use of product data such as sizes, colors, categories, what’s new in stock, what’s selling fast, if prices change or if there are coordinating items, etc. To really get to the heart of those “unique needs,” retailers are starting to realize that product data can be an equal player in their personalization strategy.
While many marketers are already personalizing triggered marketing based on consumer behavior, they will often blast product info to everyone — holiday discounts are a classic example. But even bulk messages can and should be tailored.
By marrying information like new arrivals, new prices, and back-in-stock data with shopper data, retailers get a much bigger bang for their buck.
Bringing Two Halves Together
Magic happens when a shopper’s behavior aligns perfectly with information about a product. Think of a shopper who browsed an expensive vase for six weeks and a retailer emails as soon as the price drops, triggering a purchase. These are the moments that deliver those great customer experiences and make shoppers feel like a retailer understands their needs.
To create retail marketing that really gets at that concept, retailers need to better understand the important consumer behaviors and all of the important product attributes that can be aligned to create that feeling of customer understanding.
For shopper insights, marketers should act like detectives, working to learn more about every shopper. It’s not just about location or recent purchases; it's about all of the subtle clues that shoppers leave that might indicate certain product and purchase preferences.
For example, some people read ratings and reviews, some don’t. Some people buy several items that are similar with a plan to try them at home and keep the one they like most. Some consumers have favorite colors, or buy in bulk. All of these unique elements set the stage for more specialized outreach.
From a product perspective, the goal is to surface information that may be valuable to specific shoppers. In addition to “new in,” recent discounts and back in stock, product information could include new sizes added, new colors added, low inventory alerts, new ratings and reviews, and even custom content from the marketing department about a favorite brand or product.
Then it’s time to bring the shopper and product info together. If the shopper has tended to browse and buy classic neutrals in the past, share the new beige pillows. If they read ratings and reviews, share a new five-star review of a product they bought to see if they want to leave a review, too.
If they tend to buy similar items, share a carousel of items that are in the same category of the item in their shopping cart. And if they wait to buy items on sale, share recent price drops at times they might like.
Have a Bigger Blast
During the holidays retailers often fall back on the big blasts when it comes to sharing product info. However, the layered effect that accounts for shopper behavior and product info can help improve results. Brands like Nordstrom and LOFT prioritize understanding their customers' preferences so they can match the right content with their audiences, making sure more people have experiences that deliver value.
Whatever recent product information is available can also drive triggers for social proof. Nike uses social proof on its website to make sure shoppers know what’s selling fast, and the brand makes it more personal with newsletters that are targeted based on recent shopping behavior.
Great moments don’t have to be based on recent customer behavior if the product information is fresh. Perhaps someone has had an item sitting in their wish list for months, and the price just dropped in time for holiday giving. This new information provides a relevant reason to reach out to a customer. QVC has taken this approach to reach out to shoppers with wish lists and it has seen significant movement as a result.
Especially during the holidays, when mega-email blasts are common, a way for retailers to stand out is to create magic moments that combine shopper insights with the right product information.
Jackie Schnackel is a senior strategy consultant at Bluecore, the personalization solution of choice for the world’s fastest growing retailers.
Related story: 4 Steps to Shopper Identification Nirvana
Prior to joining Bluecore in early 2022, Jackie spent the last 10 years in direct-to-consumer, digital marketing roles. Starting as an email campaign manager for Sears Holdings Corporation, she worked her way up to a Senior Director role within SHC’s loyalty program, Shop Your Way, managing all digital marketing for the brand. Additionally, she spent time in two highly regulated industries, pharmaceutical and financial services, where she was able to utilize her consumer first approach in new and different ways. Jackie’s background is built on a foundation from Purdue University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Distribution.