There is little doubt that personalisation is one of the buzzwords du jour in the world of fashion retail. What is less clear is the right way to approach personalisation, what the objectives should be and what those goals should be measured against. In Drapers’ first personalisation report, we aim to shed some light on these areas.
From short-term sales boosts to creating a unique point of difference, the rationale for adopting personalisation differs from retailer to retailer. Drapers explores the objectives of some of the UK’s major players.
Fashion brands and retailers across the spectrum are placing big bets on personalisation. However, these wagers are made for different reasons.
Some are looking for quick wins. “Companies can use it to drive short-term business performance – better conversion rates, higher basket values and higher sales,” David Brussin, co-founder and chief product officer of personalisation and experience marketing platform Monetate. However, Brussin believes there’s a more compelling, strategic reason for backing personalisation – differentiation.
“Consumers now have access to an unlimited selection and price transparency from online. Amazon has a vast collection and is extremely competitive,” he says. “You need to focus on where you can differentiate from the likes of Amazon and many have selected [customer] experience. Consumers are happy to jump around to secure the best price, but experience is durable and helps bring them back.”
Brussin explains that personalisation is central to creating a unique experience that is relevant for customers. Retailers with a vast range, such as eBay, Amazon, Zalando and Shop Direct have used personalisation to help shoppers navigate their range more easily and find the product they want.
When unveiling very.co.uk’s personalised homepages last year, Shop Direct chief executive Alex Baldock explained: “We know that relevance wins in retail and right now customers are drowning in a sea of irrelevant choices. We’re making it easier for them to shop by tailoring our websites for them. This is the digital equivalent of Selfridges laying out their Oxford Street store for each shopper.” In an interview with Drapers, he revealed that Shop Direct is trialling software that shows shoppers the most relevant product first when they search. This is particularly relevant on mobile: “If she searches for a red dress and, in the one space you have to show a dress on a smartphone screen, it is the one she really wants, she is much more likely to buy it.”
Personalisation enables other brands, such as LVMH-owned shirtmaker Thomas Pink, to replicate online the personal touch that customers appreciate in its retail stores.
Meanwhile, Norwegian outdoor brand Helly Hansen adopted personalisation to change customer perceptions. In southern Europe, the brand is most well known for sailing and watersport products, but in northern Europe it is famous for skiing and rainwear.
To best serve these two distinct audiences, Helly Hansen worked with Monetate to deliver personalised homepages based on the region in which customers reside. Beyond this, though, the brand also looked at ways to use personalisation in the short term – it made use of real-time weather data and promoted rainwear rather than skiwear during a particularly wet spell in Germany. This resulted in a 170% increase in conversion rate over the period.
From improved conversion rates to increased customer loyalty, there are clear benefits to personalisation of the etail experience. The only question for retailers is: what is your priority?
Drapers asks retailers that have embraced personalisation what they are trying to achieve:
Daniel Schneider, head of product management & consumer facing products, Zalando
“With more than 18 million customers, 1,500 brands and 150,000 articles online, it is essential to connect our customers to products of the highest personal relevance. We are striving to build our user experience customised to the individual in terms of relevance, inspiration and time.
”Personalisation is at the core of Zalando’s customer-centric approach. It creates individual experiences, offers a tailor-made shopping journey and guides the customer to products mirroring their preferences.
“However, we believe that the element of surprise remains essential. Whenever we recommend a product or content, it is not only about increasing sales, but improving the overall experience by injecting a dose of inspiration. Therefore, we set ourselves a goal of 80% completely personalised content and 20% left for discovering something new.”
Erica Vilkauls, chief operating officer, Thomas Pink
“Personalisation is not new. Back in the day, the local shopkeeper knew your name, what you usually purchased and how much you had to spend. He probably also knew your whole family. The difference between then and now – apart from the fact we have hardly any shops like this any more – is that this level of personalisation is expected across all channels, not only by a person in store but also a website and mailing material.
“I expect personalisation to strengthen the relationship between brand and customer, hence improving loyalty, which in turn will increase frequency of purchase.
“We all relish the personal touch, whether this is in store or online. An enjoyable shopping experience means the customer is spending more of their shopping time with my brand rather than someone else’s, thus spending more of their money with me.”
Rhian Bartlett, director of retail, eBay UK
“With more than 18 million Brits coming to eBay every month, personalisation is key to a great shopping experience, enabling consumers to buy exactly what they want or to simply be inspired.
”With our diverse range of shoppers, tailored experiences cater directly to consumers’ needs, whether that be a life occasion or specific shopping profile. For example, our ‘home move hub’ that launched earlier this year is a curated shopping area featuring all home move needs from DIY tools to packing materials, as well as guides and content from selected media partners. The success of this hub will see the roll-out of fashion shopping hubs on eBay.co.uk – the first is set to launch in the autumn.”