Is personalized marketing the savior of retail?

Published on November 7, 2019

Personalized mobile marketing is critical to drive sales for retailers facing tough economic conditions, and new technologies are creating new opportunities to succeed.

Reflecting an ongoing public fascination with the zombie apocalypse, around 1.4 million American adults chose to dress as the undead for recent Halloween celebrations, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

This helped drive $USD 8.8 billion in spending on Halloween, down from the 2017 record of $9 billion (75% through physical retail stores). Is softer Halloween spending a sign of an impending retail apocalypse?

Bricks and mortar has had better years

predicted 12,000 retail stores will close in the US in 2019, an increase of over 40% on the previous year. Analysts say this trend may continue for up to two more years, as consumer preferences continue to move online.

This trend is reflected in softer overall retail performance expectations. Bankers Credit Suisse recently warned of a tougher road ahead for the US retail sector, citing the impact of e-commerce firms like Amazon and increasing global trade tensions. The year-long US-China trade war is seen as the root cause for October US retail sales falling for the first time in seven months. According to reports, consumers are slowing spending in response to the uncertainty of the trading tensions.

There is no shortage of advice for retailers trying to cope with these challenges; to transform brick and mortar stores from potential millstones to strategic assets. Technology plays a critical role in this, especially as the lines between physical and online retail become increasingly blurred.

Personalization is a key defense against the retail apocalypse

Respected analyst firm CBInsights has surveyed this apocalyptic landscape and identified the strategies that will help retailers to respond.

One of their key opportunities is personalized marketing: as more consumer data flows from mobile apps, e-commerce and in-store technology, retailers are increasingly able to personalize the way they connect with and convert customers.

This emphasis on personalized marketing squares with Plexure’s in-market conversations with large retailers worldwide. What are the pros and cons, and in particular the technology opportunities in ‘mass-customizing’ retail marketing?

Retail CMOs understand the value of using customer, purchase and contextual data. It enables them to provide their customers with better, more personalized experiences that increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, and ultimately grow sales. Personalized marketing initiatives like customer loyalty programs work - you just need the right technology to make it happen.

Five questions to consider as you prepare for personalizing your retail marketing in 2020

Effective personalized marketing is technology-driven, and platforms must be natively mobile. They also need to be smart engines for personalization, running the kind of intelligent algorithms that can turn data into amazing, individualized consumer experiences.

Getting the right tech stack in place is a complex undertaking, but here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Can you build automated personalized marketing campaigns that harness the power of AI and machine learning to continuously evolve?
  2.  Does your platform enable you to generate individual customer profiles to which you deliver targeted content and offers? And can you refine recommendations in real-time based on their behavior?
  3. Can your team easily drive campaigns using a mix of tools to fit specific situations – whether it’s news, ads, banners, redeemable offers, loyalty cards, gamification or push notifications?
  4. Can you unlock the potential of your data? i.e. Combine customer and contextual data into something you can use to drive marketing campaigns?
  5. Do you have access to the talent to implement and manage your technology platform?

The essential weapon

Personalized mobile marketing alone won’t save retailers facing a softening economy, but without it, you’re going to have a hard time keeping up. It’s become a table stake for retailers, something you need to just play the game and survive.

The key to getting in this game is having the right technology platform in place. Plexure can help you identify any gaps you have in your current tech stack, and the steps you need to take to build a personalized mobile marketing engine.