Hyper-Personalization, Mass Customization and the Demand for Unique Experiences

Hyper-Personalization, Mass Customization and the Demand for Unique Experiences

Hyper-personalization is often considered to be the ultimate ambition for brands and businesses. However, providing extraordinary levels of personalization to each individual as they interact with marketing, retail, or in the wider realms of customer experience, assumes a level of prior knowledge that is extremely challenging to achieve, even with today’s big data capabilities. A powerful alternative, mass personalization, or mass customization as it’s also commonly known, is a more achievable strategy that brings its own rewards. What sets these two similar-sounding concepts apart?

Hyper-personalization

Let’s start with hyper-personalization. Go back a hundred years and imagine being a fly on the wall in the village stores. The local storekeepers would probably greet everyone in the village by name. They would know where they lived, their family history, their station in life. A customer coming through the door might see the storekeeper readying their regular purchases before they’d even got as far as the counter. Once there, the storekeeper might ask after a new baby or aging relative and suggest appropriate goods. It wouldn’t have been considered anything other than normal at the time, but this intimate relationship exemplifies hyper-personalization: deep knowledge, built up gradually, with an awareness of their customer’s situation and likely state of mind and able to anticipate the right solutions.

In today’s digital world, a new kind of hyper-personalization has become possible and is already in use by industry giants like Amazon, Netflix and Starbucks to provide unique experiences at scale. They are leveraging artificial intelligence, algorithms and real-time data to provide highly relevant, curated content or communications that anticipate the needs of every individual user at the perfect moment for them. 

Product recommendations are most common – for example, Netflix employs machine learning to create unique show recommendations for every user. For their hit series Stranger Things, the company designed multiple thumbnails to appeal to different users based on their likes and dislikes, highlighting different aspects of the show from specific actors to horror and sci-fi, children’s adventure, even romance1. Starbucks utilizes data from their long-running loyalty app to send their customers emails featuring individualized offers, based on their previous buying behavior and known preferences2. Customers are happy to share data, knowing that it means they will receive offers that resonate with their needs.

But the truth is that hyper-personalization is still an extraordinary challenge. In a metaverse, almost everything is virtual, making it possible for people to use multiple log-ins, or alternatively share a log-in with several members of the family. This presents a problem for any AI or machine learning-based engine: who is the person interacting and what exactly are they looking for? Netflix asks people to self-identify when they arrive on the site, but it may not always solve the issue. 

Hyper-personalization can also run the risk of seeming like a ‘blunt instrument’ if used without subtlety or high-quality data. Levels of sophistication are growing but it will take time before all brands and businesses can anticipate needs in a way that feels like beautiful serendipity, rather than sometimes coming across as intrusive or ‘creepy’. But it’s not the only method of delivering targeted, individualized goods and services that make people feel special. 

Mass customization

For many years, consumer brands sold their products via resellers. The brands focused on what was core to them: innovation and manufacturing good products. As they relied on the retailers to sell their merchandise to consumers via stores, brands did not gather data on the consumers, their retailers did. With the ubiquitous reach of the Internet, brands can now access consumers directly, a strategy referred to as D2C or Direct to Consumer. But what if they do not know enough about these consumers to give them a personalized experience in the first instance? 

Enter mass customization. This is another way to cater to the growing demand for focus on individual needs. Thinking back to our local storekeeper, the advent of the industrial revolution meant that the old-fashioned hyper-personalized approach largely dwindled in favor of chain stores and the mass-produced goods which have dominated the marketplace for more than a century. Now there are new ways to combine mass production’s economies of scale with digital technologies that allow individual customers to make a number of choices about their goods or services which are then designed to order. By orchestrating modular designs, online configurators, 3D scanners and flexible production systems everything from eyewear to houses can be customized, and though customers are often charged a premium for the service to make it viable financially, they’re happy to do so3. It’s a powerful response to the increased desire for personalization, for people to feel that their products have been made especially for them. 

For Dell the ability to customize desktop models has been fundamental to its strategy since it was founded in the 1980s, allowing customers to choose the appropriate processor, memory capability and screen type for their particular needs and budget4. In the automotive industry, mass customization has been the norm for some years, with customers able to make a number of decisions – engine, gearbox, style package, paint color – in order to configure their perfect model. In 1999 Nike made it possible to customize their sneakers, and many customers have been only too delighted to pay a premium for doing so, given the kudos that their unique new footwear brought them5.

In comparison to hyper-personalization, mass customization creates its own benefits. A business may know nothing about the potential customer who has landed on their site, but as the customer interacts with their product offering, they will gradually learn more and more. Best of all it won’t feel intrusive, or like an off-putting ‘data grab’; instead, it’s part of a natural process towards giving the customer exactly what they want. Moreover, for existing brands, mass customization offers an opportunity for a revenue stream with increased profits, selling direct to the consumer, without the additional costs retailer and wholesaler relationships entail. 

Customized cookies

Take OREO for example. Owned by multinational Mondelez, this iconic brand sells ‘the world’s top selling cookie’ through wholesalers and retailers, the result being that they had a limited direct relationship with their customers. BORN worked with them to create a new flagship digital experience, OREOiD. On the website www.oreo.com, users are empowered to customize their OREO cookies, designing their own unique, authentic cookies that can be boxed and sent as gifts. They can choose different flavors, dips and colored sprinkles, even add photos and messages. 

The site won four Webby awards and is now widely admired. The experience on the site is not just a delight for the user, who can enjoy the playful, process of interacting with the brand alongside treating a loved one or celebrating a special occasion with their gift. It’s also incredibly useful for the brand in their bid to develop a holistic view of their customers. When a user decides to go ahead with their purchase, they will necessarily need to submit practical details like their name, physical address and email address, what we might call ‘longitudes’, and they will be happy to do so. But they will also reveal their emotional sensibilities and relationships, their ‘latitudes’. For instance, we might learn that they like celebrating birthdays, that they have a sister whose favourite color is purple and lives in Chicago. Or that they work for a corporation who regularly have events for a large number of people and whose brand colors are red and white. Through playful interactions OREO can be privy to a whole sphere of information created almost effortlessly from the customization journey.

Not only did OREO enjoy record sales from their new venture, in addition they are gathering the building blocks for hyper-personalization, in the form of customer information, should they desire to go down that route in the future. 

Of course, people may behave differently on a website from how they do in a store, or on the phone to a call center. By adding in details gained from interactions in other channels to the data gathered from mass customization, brands can build their view of each individual customer until it gradually come into sharper and sharper focus.

Whichever route they choose to go down, the potential rewards for companies who can successfully implement hyper-personalization or mass customization are great. Furthermore, while businesses are boosting sales by providing highly relevant product recommendations or creating new revenue and data streams by empowering users to customize their products, consumers are winning too. They’re happy to pay a premium to gain access to the targeted and customized experiences that they desire, and still finding added value.

For more information on BORN’s work with OREO, please visit here.

Footnotes

  1. 3 Examples Of Hyper Personalized Marketing Campaigns, Wedia, https://www.wedia-group.com/brand-content/3-examples-of-hyper-personalized-marketing-campaigns/
  1. Why Hyper-Personalization Is The Future Of Marketing (And How To Do It), WebEngage, https://webengage.com/blog/hyper-personalization-marketing-future/
  1. How Technology Can Drive The Next Wave Of Mass Customization, McKinsey & Company, https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/bto/pdf/mobt32_02-09_masscustom_r4.ashx
  1. 3 Success Stories Of Mass Customization, TopMostBlog, https://www.topmostblog.com/3-success-stories-of-mass-customization/
  1. Nike’s Online Customers Can Step Into Designer’s Shoes, Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-nov-23-fi-36665-story.html

Draw Them in with Content: Enabling Buying Decisions through Visual Commerce

Draw Them in with Content: Enabling Buying Decisions through Visual Commerce

The content that goes behind selling a product has rapidly scaled over the past decade, with more and more features to capture user-generated content and professional footage to sell products. This trend has been styled Visual Commerce and is a key part of the buyer’s journey – approximately 75% of internet users search for visual content before carrying out a purchase1.

The path to a sale has never been easy. Buyer journeys at a brick-and-mortar store always included some amount of comparison shopping and brands tried to influence buyers by helping them visualize their product on a mannequin or styled as part of a setting, or having a sales associate available to talk to. 

With eCommerce becoming all-pervasive and accelerating faster than retail these days, brands need to take over even more of that visualization in order to provide a seamless omnichannel experience – that is, to persuade a buyer to make an informed purchase decision without being able to touch and feel it. 

Visual commerce is about using compelling content in context to attract, influence and convert buyers on their journey. In short, heightening user engagement to drive sales.

High-quality content for product visualization

What they need is a step-up from static 2D product images. What they need is a branded visual experience, one that incorporates interactive content that is engaging as well as informational and is consistent in its messaging. 

Lookbooks and digital catalogs using large, high-resolution photos and livestreaming videos that show 360° views, as well as entertaining content such as GIFs and memes, are included in this list.

Add curated user-generated content as well as shoppability layers to visual assets to create shortcuts in the sales process. 

Immersive content using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can project a homeware product into the users home or help buyers visualize an accessory as part of a look in 3D. IKEA’s AR app goes as far as helping the buyer design entire rooms2. The more diverse your media, the higher the search engine rankings

User-generated content provides social proof and builds trust. According to a Bazaarvoice survey in December 2020, nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US said they were more likely to buy a product if they were able to view customer photos and videos. Roughly a quarter of them were influenced by UGC on or used Facebook to make purchases based on UGC3. In fashion, up 9 out of 10 shoppers trust an influencer more than traditional advertisements or celebrity endorsements and this, alongside peer reviews (55%) and social media (74%) impact purchase decisions4.

There exist tools and platforms that allow you to

  • aggregate posts from your users on multiple social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
  • curate the best content for your site
  • tag your products on their posts
  • display them as galleries or besides specific products, and
  • study the analytics of user engagement. 

Such shoppable posts can take users directly to the payments page and avoid extra time till purchase. 

Besides providing fresh and eye-catching imagery at low cost, using UGC and reviews also is a badge of authenticity, develops customer loyalty and builds trust. Would-be buyers can also see the context and the lifestyle in which the products are being used.

Product discovery through a personalized experience 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are the ever-evolving technologies that underpin the rich personalization features of visual commerce. They help brands offer ever more individualized and dynamic content, offers, and recommendations to customers based on their demographics, preferences as well as past and present behavior. Content works harder over more buying journeys.

AI-powered visual search improves product discoverability. This feature enables people to go straight to a product using pictures clicked on their mobile devices, thereby increasing engagement, conversion rates and consequently, customer lifetime value. ASOS is a good example of an eCommerce website that does this well.

Visual configurators can also give a 360° view of the product and empower buyers by offering them options to change or personalize details. Allow them to point to a part of the product or use icons rather than use naming conventions that they may be unfamiliar with. Allow them to save and start over.

Gucci configurator for knitwear

Easy and seamless experience

The end goal of visual commerce is to reduce friction in the buying journey. The experience overall needs to be easy and seamless, else it will result in abandoned carts. IKEA users, for example, don’t love that they have to open up the IKEA website or app, besides the AR app, to complete the purchase. Amazon, on its part, had a consumer camera called the Echo Look, which enabled users to take videos and selfies, before folding its functionality into the Amazon shopping app.

Visual commerce for a digital world

Fashion shows are being reimagined as heightened visual experiences for a digital tomorrow, to market to buyers who are not there in person5. Even in B2B industries such as manufacturing, the lack of trade shows and exhibitions have given a push to visual commerce, showing that visual commerce is here to stay6

For more information about BORN Group’s expertise in brand and customer experience, click here.

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Footnotes

1. Visual Commerce 2017: How Image Recognition and Augmentation Are Changing Retail, eMarketer, https://www.emarketer.com/Report/Visual-Commerce-2017-How-Image-Recognition-Augmentation-Changing-Retail/2002059

2. IKEA’s Revamped AR App Lets You Design Entire Rooms, Wired, 20 Apr 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/ikea-revamped-ar-app-design-entire-rooms/

3. User-generated visual content can influence purchases, eMarketer, 21 Feb 2021, https://www.emarketer.com/content/user-generated-visual-content-influence-purchases

4.  The State of Fashion 2018, McKinsey and the Business of Fashion,  https://cdn.businessoffashion.com/reports/The_State_of_Fashion_2018_v2.pdf

5.  5 Digital Artists Reimagining The Fashion Show, Vogue UK, 23 May 2021, https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/digital-artists-reimagining-the-fashion-show

6.  COVID-19 Driving Visual Commerce Accelerator for Hand-Selected Manufacturers, Manufacturing Tomorrow, 2 Jun 2020, https://www.manufacturingtomorrow.com/article/2020/05/covid-19-driving-visual-commerce-accelerator-for-hand-selected-manufacturers/15326/

Shopping in Augmented Reality: The Impact of AR on eCommerce

Shopping in Augmented Reality: The Impact of AR on eCommerce

In 2016, Pokémon Go drew millions of individuals around the world into the streets to ostensibly play a game that simultaneously familiarized them with location-based services and augmented reality (AR) technology. 

What was once a gimmick in apps such as Snapchat and Instagram to add real-time special effects, transformations or filters to pics – bunny ears, anyone? – is now big business. 

AR has been on the radar of developers and marketers since 2017, when with a view to making the technology go mainstream, Apple announced its augmented reality framework. Called ARKit, the framework made it easier to develop apps for iOS apps and games. Consequently, the options available to brands have exploded.

Total spend worldwide on AR as well as virtual reality (VR) is expected to have topped USD 18.8 billion in 2020, an increase of 78% over 2019. This is set to rise considerably through to 2024, reaching USD 72.8 billion.1 Consumer mobile AR experiences spending alone is expected to rise from USD 1.38 billion in 2020 to USD 1.93 billion in 2021, before climbing to USD 4.18 billion by 2024.2

Brands as diverse as Gucci and Ikea are using AR technology to enhance their user experience with virtual trials.

Not surprisingly, AR has especially gained traction with beauty and furniture brands as people saw what filters could do to faces. Beauty brands such as Ulta were some of the first adopters of AR. L’Oreal ModiFace develops custom AR hair, cosmetics, and jewelry apps for brands like Amazon, Sephora, and Estée Lauder. Perfect’s YouCam’s 3D face scanning enables virtual makeovers. Samsung’s Bixby Vision uses ModiFace’s platform to let users try on makeup from Sephora, CoverGirl, and Laneige.3

Gucci let customers see what their Ace sneakers would look like on their feet, using technology developed by Wannaby, a Belarus-based startup, whose Wanna Kicks app also showcases other sneaker brands such as Nike, Adidas and Allbirds. Nike’s app can also measure customers’ foot sizes. AR has been a part of Gucci’s marketing mix before. The brand offered a customization service for select sneakers, bag,s and clothing items by equipping stores with a tool that let customers point an iPad or iPhone camera at a real product available in-store, personalize it and then see it in a real-world setting.

Snap, the maker of the Snapchat app, is looking to AR to make its platform profitable and commerce-oriented. Snap said it will be investing in more features to drive customer engagement and as an advertising tool4. Companies such as Target and Dior even have profiles on Snapchat.

Finally, Ikea has offered AR as part of their in-app experience since 2014 but their Place app takes it up a notch with users able to render digital renderings of their furniture in their living room. 

At this point though, while most brands are using AR the way movies use special effects – to enhance the user experience – most brands can’t definitively point to how much AR results in sales. Ulta says they look at AR as a way to ensure brand loyalty5

Regular fashion brands haven’t embraced AR as much because there are many ways clothes can look on a person depending on their body shape. ASOS is one of the few brands that have with its See My Fit function allowing users to visualize a dress on 16 virtual models between sizes 4 and 186

The future of AR is, to put it mildly, bright. Snap, which made the concept of filters commonplace, is betting on smart glasses, but these are first aimed at developers and creators7. Facebook and Apple are also expected to debut smart glasses for consumers in the next few years.

Besides clarifying business objectives and goals, brands looking to AR tools should choose carefully the kinds of AR tools as well as their licenses, and make sure they are compatible with the devices and operating systems that are in play.

What kinds of AR tools can you choose from? 

  • Location-based tools use GPS or position-detectors to determine current location, then adjust the environment and create objects in it. 
  • Marker-based tools are based on image recognition and the more advanced they are, the better they are able to detect 3D markers and real-life objects. 
  • Superimposition-based AI where objects are overlaid onto a real environment. One good example is IKEA’s Place app. 
  • Projection-based AR are the simplest type of AR and just project holograms onto a surface. 
  • AR codes use the basic idea of QR codes to add interactive content to the world around you. Amazon’s Augmented Reality App, for example, allows you to scan the QR codes on their packing boxes for interactive, shareable experiences.

At BORN, we pride ourselves on human-centered design. If you would like to know more about our capabilities in augmented reality and other forward-looking innovation, click here.

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Footnotes

1.  VR and AR market size, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/591181/global-augmented-virtual-reality-market-size/

2. Consumer mobile augmented reality (AR) experiences spending worldwide from 2019 to 2024, Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1222728/consumer-mobile-augmented-reality-spending/

3. Gucci’s iOS app lets you try shoes on remotely in AR, 26 June 2019, VentureBeat, https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/26/guccis-ios-app-lets-you-try-shoes-on-remotely-in-ar/

4.  How Snap aims to turn augmented reality into a monetization machine, ZDnet.com, https://www.zdnet.com/article/how-snap-aims-to-turn-augmented-reality-into-a-monetization-machine/

5.  Despite advancements, AR struggles to take off in retail, Modern Retail, 22 Jan 2020, https://www.modernretail.co/retailers/despite-advancement-ar-struggles-to-take-off-in-retail/

6. Asos is using AR to promote and sell fresh products in lockdown, The Drum, https://www.thedrum.com/news/2020/05/18/asos-using-ar-promote-and-sell-fresh-products-lockdown

7. Snap Plans Hardware Push With AR Spectacles, Drone, The Information, 30 Mar 2021, https://www.theinformation.com/articles/snap-plans-hardware-push-with-ar-spectacles-drone

Assessing The Pillars of Modern Digital Infrastructure

Assessing The Pillars of Modern Digital Infrastructure

Seeking to better understand customer experience expectations of digital commerce, Avalara commissioned business intelligence platform PSFK to research key trends and technologies along the purchase journey. The resulting five-chapter report features Avalara customers, partners, and thought leaders.

What did we learn?

Consumers expect retailers to have ecommerce and mobile capabilities. Their expectations are high; they bank on researching each stage of the purchase journey online. Real-time accuracy and transparency are essential, as is a seamless experience.

There’s a lot at stake. Global ecommerce totaled more than $3.5 trillion in 2019. By 2023, online retail sales in the United States alone are expected to reach $969.7 billion.

To succeed in this increasingly crowded field, retailers must deliver an exceptional customer experience at all stages of the customer journey, from discovery to post-purchase support. Technology is a key component of success, helping to build trust and therefore loyalty.

Mobile has elevated expectations: Consumers count on retailers to deliver a true omnichannel experience, tailored to them, no matter how they shop. Retailers that sideline mobile risk alienating a growing portion of the market. Mobile sales have doubled since 2015 and are expected to account for 44% of ecommerce by 2024.

In short, retail today must be “digital-first, fluid, and agile,” as the current pandemic has highlighted. In recent months, retailers reliant on physical stores alone were often unable to connect with customers. Those with an established online and mobile presence could meet consumers where they were — at home or on the move.

No matter the circumstances, the more agile a retailer’s overall digital infrastructure, the better the experience for customers passing through these five stages:

  • Discovery
  • ‘Store’ experience
  • Shopper education and assistance
  • Payment and tax
  • Fulfillment and support

Discovery

Consumers shop across all digital platforms in today’s hyper-connected world, including through social channels as well as through Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. Managing customer relationships is key. A dynamic outreach with visual search streams and shoppable content helps retailers rise above competitors. 

‘Store’ experience

To convert browsers to buyers, ecommerce retailers need more than an online storefront; the whole shopping experience must be streamlined, secure, and increasingly, curated. An adaptive homepage and social shopping options help provide the experience consumers crave, as does augmented retail. People respond well when given the option to virtually try on products.

Shopper education and assistance

Online shoppers are increasingly coming to expect personalized support at key moments, as they might receive in a brick-and-mortar store. They value well-timed expert opinions. Authentication tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots help customers navigate product catalogs and retailers understand when human interjection is necessary.

Payment and tax

Checkout must be seamless on the front and back end. Customers are one step closer to a purchase when their payment information is automatically (and securely) provided. Other best practices include offering one-click purchase options, digital layaway options, and in-cart optimization. Currency conversions aid cross-border sales, as do accurate tax and customs calculations. To foster trust, reveal shipping, tax, and other applicable charges up front.

Fulfillment and support

What happens after a customer clicks “Buy now” is an integral part of the customer experience. Flexible delivery options, including in-store pickup and returns, are a must in the age of near-immediate gratification. AI and machine learning can help streamline logistics and reduce costs. Customer loyalty can be fostered with product setup, ongoing support, as well as programs that encourage customer evangelization.

Exceed expectations

Exceeding expectations is key to successful digital commerce. Gain deeper understanding. Get the report here.

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Welcome to BORN’s Partner series! Through this program we look to highlight thought leadership from our vast array of technology partners. Follow along using the hashtag #thisisBORN and #BORNpartner!

Today, we’re thrilled to call attention to our longtime partner, Avalara. Avalara utilizes the PFSK platform to help assess which components of modern commerce infrastructure are some of the most essential. We hope you get a broad overview in this highlight post and explore deeper at Avalara’s site for the full white paper.

How to Increase Customer Lifetime Value With Visual Product Discovery

How to Increase Customer Lifetime Value With Visual Product Discovery

The global pandemic prompted a huge shift in consumer behavior — including notable breakdowns and disruptions in customer loyalty. 

As supply chains suffered a shock that restricted inventory and forced long-time customers to look elsewhere, another important transformation was taking place. 

Brands and retailers that hadn’t been focused on their eCommerce presence suddenly went “all-in.” And those that already had strong websites and solid operations in place to serve online shoppers took things up a notch. 

The resulting advancement in customer experience created a new breed of consumers. These shoppers have sky-high expectations from brands when it comes to everything from product recommendations to fulfillment to customer service, and more. 

Building Loyalty in the Post-Pandemic Landscape

Now that the initial “shock to loyalty” is leveling out, the onus is on brands and retailers to create customer experiences that are so intuitive, delightful, and memorable that they’ll entice these new, more demanding shoppers to come back time and time again. 

The brands that invest in keeping the new business they’re seeing in the long-term — or those that crack to code on how to increase customer lifetime value (LTV) — are poised to be at a tremendous advantage in the coming months. Today’s blog post with BORN partner Syte helps illustrate that advantage by going into detail on LTV and how visual product discovery helps win over shoppers. 

LTV is so essential because loyal customers don’t just return to your website more often, they are also more eager to spend with your brand. In fact, 39% of loyal customers will spend more on a product, even if there are other, less-expensive options available elsewhere.

Still, when looking to build lasting relationships with customers, brands and retailers often overlook the most critical element of the customer journey: product discovery

After all, if shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for in the first place, why would they come back?

Why Visual Discovery Wins Over Shoppers 

Innovative brands and retailers are increasingly using visual AI to take their product discovery experience to the next level. This emerging technology, which includes image recognition capabilities, allows retailers to pinpoint specific details about each product in their inventory and to use that unique visual data to surface the most relevant items for each shopper. 

Visual discovery tools that leverage AI, including camera search and smart recommendation carousels, enable shoppers to easily find products that suit their tastes, even when they don’t have the right search terms or the time to navigate through dozens of product listing pages. 

Connecting shoppers with their ideal products so seamlessly leads not only to a higher conversion rate but also to a dramatic rise in customer lifetime value. 

In fact, Syte’s data analysis from July-December 2020 found that when shoppers interact with on-site visual product discovery tools — specifically those powered by visual AI — they are more likely to become long-term, high-value customers:

  • Compared to high-intent “add to cart” shoppers, those who engaged with on-site product discovery tools had a 12% uplift in retention rate at the end of a 30-day period
  • The higher retention rate among users of visual discovery technologies also translated to a 19% uplift in customer LTV within a 30-day period, compared to all customers.

These numbers demonstrate that today’s shoppers deeply value brands that help them find what they want intuitively and quickly — and that they see this process as a core element of an improved customer experience. 

Brands that rise to the challenge of creating an outstanding product discovery experience will become a trusted destination for shoppers and drive long-term value from new customers. To learn more about how these solutions impact customer experience and drive business value, take a look at our partner Syte’s blog.

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Welcome to BORN’s Partner series! Through this program we look to highlight thought leadership from our vast array of technology partners. Follow along using the hashtag #thisisBORN and #BORNpartner!

Today, we’re happy to call attention to our visual search partner, Syte, and talk about how they help transform Customer Lifetime Value with effective visual product discovery.

The Clock is Ticking: It’s Time to Leverage Customer Data Platforms

The Clock is Ticking: It’s Time to Leverage Customer Data Platforms

The period of leveraging third-party cookies is coming to a screeching halt, with new regulations and privacy concerns arising daily. While this may be troublesome for marketers who rely on this data, there are options beyond third-party cookies. The time to migrate to a Customer Data Platform or CDP is now.

The key to effective digital marketing is high-quality customer data. Marketers know the much-discussed phrase ‘know your customer ‘ or KYC goes beyond just knowing their names and what they purchased in the past. High-quality data results in superior engagement and lifetime-value conversations. 

How well do you really know your customers though? Traditionally, organizations have used customer relationship management (CRM) systems operated by salespeople to organize and manage data from customer interactions. For example, a history of a customer’s past purchases would be tracked, or utilized to create a record of potential customers. These are then analyzed to drive sales. 

Further customer-relevant information is stored in other discrete, unconnected systems. Marketing systems and customer service information might only partially appear in CRM systems while unstructured data such as those from delivery platforms, i.e. systems that interact at channel touch points such as email software, webpages, social media or surveys would not be connected to those systems. It was hard to build up and maintain a persona of the customer from all this data that also stayed current. 

Besides demographic and transactional data, you can have behavioral data on the web and mobile from data management platforms (DMP), such as those that serve advertising and are used for retargeting using cookie – information that might expire in 90 days or the cookie’s lifetime – as well as in-store interactions. 

Each of the types of data mentioned above comes with different levels of personalization.

What is a Customer Data Platform?

All the information listed above can now be captured, labeled and stored in a CDP to form a more complete view of the customer to allow for better marketing efficiencies. The CDP Institute defines a CDP as “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.” 

A CDP not only manages data from a wide variety of customer interactions and combines them with marketing content, but also makes it easier to comply with data protection regulations. This tool is usually managed by a marketing team without much technical support.

Features of a CDP

CDP software must include features such as the ability to;

  • Scour data from all sources, both online and offline, ideally in real time.  
  • Retain all original detail and segment them according to rules.
  • Store data for as long as users want.
  • Build unified customer profiles including identity, attribute and device data, and offer them to marketers in a web-based interface.
  • Integration with external systems to enable activation.

The data from a CDP can then be used to create a 360-degree view of the customer and their journey that is both individual and unique. Such a segmented model leads to superior insights and personalization, and as a result, increased engagement en route to a consistent multichannel user experience. Anonymous users are recognized as loyal customers who interact with the company via their channels of choice. 

CDPs could take the form solely of data assembly, including; campaigns (data, analytics and customer treatments) and delivery (data platforms, analytics, engagement and message delivery). They must have the ability to send segments and segment instructions to other execution tools for the execution of campaigns, mobile messaging and other channel activity. Some may even include activation features such as recommendations, optimization and testing.

Advantages of Leveraging CDP’s

Unique view of the customers: A CDP links internal CRM first-party data, second- and third-party data from business partners and providers, offline data, event and activity flows, data from the back office and data on transactions, customer behavior and experience. This granular data creates dynamic and unified profiles that can be updated in real-time.

Agility in decision-making: A CDP’s ability to use real-time information such as user behavior and changing technology trends to stay updated allows an organization to stay flexible and thrive in a dynamic business environment. They can do this by tweaking promotional metrics, pricing strategies, inventory scheduling and optimizing relationships with supplies and partners. 

Democratized business intelligence: The availability of customer data in one centralized platform allows users from different departments, customer touchpoints and cross-channel marketing efforts to have access to the same data.

Increased operational efficiency: CDP’s allow organizations to be more competitive – with centralized information at the push of a button, ready-to-use integrations and real-time analytics, they reduce the time between getting insights and using them to make decisions that impact the bottom line. 

A better marketing and user experience: A CDP combines operational data from the back office with front office and experience data. On the basis of permissions given, companies can offer their customers a personalized experience that is tailored to their needs and wants at the right time via the preferred channel.

Reliable data protection: A good CDP automatically recognizes the purpose for which data is recorded and sets the course for a holistic data protection strategy. Collected information is only added to the customer profile if the required declaration of consent is available. With the third-party cookie falling in importance and increased regulatory oversight of data collection, it’s expected that 1 in 4 CMOs will invest in consent and preference management software in 2021. Customers can trust that their data is optimally protected.

Choosing the right CDP for your business: CDP’s are already a key part of many marketing automation tools. With a tsunami of data expected from the Internet of Things applications, they are going to become its beating heart.  

To narrow down your choices, start with an audit of your marketing goals and current systems inefficiencies such as the state of your data. Then, identify the features of a CDP that will help you reduce those inefficiencies and achieve those goals.

Peer-to-peer review site G2 has an overview of the most popular CDPs, a list which includes Segment, Exponea, SAP Emarsys, Listrak, Tealium, Optimove, Adobe Experience Manager, and Salesforce Interaction Studio.

As experts in the CDP space, we at BORN would love to connect for an exploratory session to evaluate your current and future marketing technology strategy.

How to Leverage Technology to Improve CX and Build Loyalty

How to Leverage Technology to Improve CX and Build Loyalty

What turns a browser into a customer, and a customer into a repeat customer? It may be as simple as listening and helping shoppers find what they want. That can be done face-to-face in a brick-and-mortar store. For online sellers, it requires technology.

Though brick-and-mortar retail stores have reopened nationwide, the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to drive record online sales. July’s ecommerce sales were lower than June’s, but still up 55% year over year. Adobe Analytics expects online sales for the year to surpass 2019 online sales by October 5, 2020. For many consumers, including some who didn’t shop online before the pandemic, ecommerce is still the best option.

To capture new customers and retain old ones, retailers must provide the essentials: easy browsing, a secure ecommerce store, seamless checkout, and trackable delivery. Yet today’s savvy consumers often want more. They like to see themselves wearing your products. They may want to connect with a sales associate — like they do when shopping in person.

It can all happen online with the right technology. Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI), authentication tools, and curation services can help customers navigate product catalogs. When a shopper needs more detailed assistance, human experts jump in.

Business intelligence platform PSFK examines how technology helps shape customer experience in its Digital Commerce Playbook. Key findings on the importance of customer education and assistance are summarized below and all statistics are attributed to this study;

Help them find what they want

Customers value clear information, well-timed input, and expert opinions. That’s hard to offer when consumers are anonymous, but increasingly, online shoppers are letting themselves be known. About 58% of millennials are willing to share personal information in order to get attuned product recommendations. And 36% of customers (not just millennials) expect a company to be able to provide “relevant recommendations for additional products and services after a single purchase.”

It would take an army of sales associates to offer that sort of personalized shopping experience for all browsers. Fortunately, AI-enabled support can assist with the early stages, narrowing down choices and gleaning preferences. If more personalized help is needed, it can gather information to share with human successors.

Be there for them

Consumers want to feel connected, perhaps now more than ever. Prior to the pandemic, 72% of consumers aged 18–64 said their overall customer experience would be better if they could text with a live agent in real time — too many of us have spent too many hours of our lives caught in endless cycles of automated help lines that provide no answers. Offering different, more human ways to connect can give you a competitive edge. 

Authenticate

Consumers want access to human help, but they also want assurance the products they’re buying are authentic. And unfortunately, the rise of marketplace sales was accompanied by an increase in counterfeit products. More than 70% of products purchased from marketplaces annually are counterfeit, and consumers spend almost $0.5 trillion annually on counterfeit goods.

Marketplaces are aware of the problem and working to stem the tide of counterfeit sales. Meanwhile, customers need assurance they can trust retailers. You can provide that via AI verification and blockchain tracking, among other tools.

In short, people like supporting businesses they can trust. They respond to ecommerce stores that curate selections to their taste and provide personalized assistance. It’s what they expect when they shop in person, and they’re coming to expect it online. Retailers that can fulfill those expectations are likely to outperform those that don’t.

Want more key insights about how technology can improve consumer engagement? Get the report from Avalara. 

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Welcome to BORN’s Partner series! Through this program we look to highlight thought leadership from our vast array of technology partners. Follow along using the hashtag #thisisBORN and #BORNpartner!

Today, we’re thrilled to call attention to our longtime partner, Avalara. Through this insightful piece, we hope you gain an understanding of what types of commerce technology can lift customer experience and bring loyalty to a brand.