Why Personalisation Is the Biggest Missed Opportunity in Omnichannel Retail

If you sell online and in-store, then you’re in luck. Studies show that customers who shop across multiple channels are more loyal and spend more than those who only shop online or only shop in-store. But there’s a catch. To capture the omnichannel opportunity, you need to provide a seamless shopping experience across channels, and that is easier said than done. 

It requires breaking down silos between your e-commerce, store and customer service teams – both organisationally and in terms of data. A lot of retailers have done this over the past few years. But one area where experts say there’s still room for improvement is the customer experience. 

“Although many companies have tried to implement an omnichannel strategy, few have truly succeeded in building a comprehensive experience for the customer,” McKinsey analysts stated in a recent report on the topic.

A big missed opportunity lies in personalisation. According to McKinsey, companies that personalise the customer experience across physical and digital channels can achieve a 5 to 15 per cent revenue increase across the full customer base. 

How can you personalise the omnichannel customer experience? Here are three ways to get started. 

Double-down on key moments

One way to personalise the customer experience is to focus on key influence moments in the customer journey. The customer journey can be broken down into four phases: the initial consideration period, the active evaluation period, the moment of purchase and the post-purchase loop. Think about how a more personalised approach can help you achieve different business outcomes in each phase. 

For instance, if you’re looking to drive traffic and awareness pre-visit, you should consider sending location-based marketing messages, while if you’re looking to increase conversion or order size during the visit, you could try personalising your homepage and offering specific promotions based on the customer’s purchase history. And if you’re trying to deepen engagement post-visit, you should avoid one-size-fits-all messages in your email marketing.  

Combine physical and digital touchpoints

When you look at the customer journey from a touchpoint perspective, it’s less straightforward. Customers will typically interact with a brand or business multiple times, on multiple different online and offline channels, so trying to personalise the ENTIRE experience can be daunting. McKinsey suggests focusing on five key touchpoints where the digital and physical channels converge: mobile app, digital displays, interactive screens, tech-enabled associates and point of sale.

Not all of these touchpoints will be relevant for every retail business, but if you’re an omnichannel retailer, you probably use at least a few of them. To get the most out of each touchpoint, you should consider how the digital and physical channels can best reinforce each other. 

Take the point of sale, for instance. By incentivising customers to identify themselves at the point of sale in exchange for loyalty points or an e-receipt, you can better personalise your digital communication with them post-purchase

Empower in-store staff

The big advantage omnichannel retailers have over pureplay online retailers is their store staff, but often they’re not utilised as much as they could be. Since more than 80% of sales occur offline, however, store staff play a crucial role in most customer journeys. Arming them with the right data and tools is key to providing a more personalised customer experience. 

For instance, giving your store staff access to real-time data on a mobile device could enable them to identify customers by name when they walk into a store, make personalised recommendations based on their purchase history and assist with any customer service requests, such as payment issues or returns. 

When leveraging in-store staff, it’s important to provide the necessary training. This should not only include ‘hard skills’ around how to use the device and interpret the data at hand, but also ‘soft skills’ around how to personalise interactions with customers without being creepy.  

At the end of the day, a competitive omnichannel strategy not only needs to be seamless, but also customer-centric. And key to that is personalisation.