Brands and retailers must do more to drive innovative personalisation across mobile platforms – whether apps or mobile sites – a panel of ecommerce experts have said today.
Speaking at the Drapers Digital Festival 2017, the panel, which included representatives from Zalando, Joseph and IBM Watson, said data and consumer experience are integral to the new mobile-focused consumer, and debated the future of the personalised mobile consumer journey.
“Mobile is changing how consumers engage with brands,” said James Lovell, European retail business executive at IBM Watson. “Brands need to start to drive innovation. There’s so much data that could be used – it could create a much more engaging relationship between brands and consumers.”
“There is a lot of personalisation that is yet to be done, and most retailers do very little,” added Oyvind Henriksen, chief executive and co-founder of Poq, a business that creates apps for retailers, whose clients include House of Fraser and Missguided. “Personalisation requires a bit of homework – it’s not something that can just be switched on. One benefit of apps is that they give retailers the ability to personalise.”
The appeal of apps was not universal on the panel, however – neither Joseph nor Jack Wills currently offers an app.
“I took the decision that we needed to kill the app. The consumer experience was very poor and there was a low frequency of purchase,” said Mark Wright, managing director of digital at Jack Wills. “We put our energy into the mobile site instead. We put mobile thinking at the heart of the business. We will release an app one day, but it will be very consumer-focused.”
This was a strategy echoed by Randa Crebbin, head of ecommerce at Joseph: “Improving the mobile customer journey was a priority for us – focusing on personalised content based on factors including gender and nationality.”
Personalisation requires a bit of homework – it’s not something that can just be switched on
Oyvind Henriksen, chief executive and co-founder of Poq
Hans Kristian Furuseth, head of UK for Zalando, which has an app that drives a large share of its sales, noted that multi-brand retailers were naturally more suited to the app format: “As a single brand, there’s not a high enough frequency of purchase to warrant a dedicated app. With a multi-brand we can look at things like browsing and purchasing behaviour, as well as what brands people have on their wishlists.”
Looking to the future of mobile shopping, the panel stressed the role of social, the importance of continued personalisation, and highlighted artificial intelligence and natural language systems as areas that have future potential.
“We have to learn how, when and where a customer wants to receive information,” said Lovell. “You can only personalise with the effective use of data, and mobile is now the primary source of data.”
“Brands and retailers must be able to use natural language systems,” he added. “We must keep an eye on how Gen Z are using their devices – AI will play a big part of that as well.”