Personalisation has a long way to go, but there is a fine line between helping the customer find what they want and becoming intrusive, retailers and technology experts said today.
“The UK is doing OK compared to Europe and the US, but the industry is generally looking at personalisation in isolated parts – we’re seeing product recommendations and segmented emails – but what we’re not doing well is to combine it all together and touch all areas in one go,” said Alex Henry, client solutions manager for EMEA at cloud-based marketing technology firm Monetate at Drapers Digital Forum in London today.
Romney Evans, co-founder of retail software company TrueFit said: “In reality we are just at the tip of the iceberg now for personalisation - the vision is way ahead of the reality, but we are already starting to see some really good results in terms of increases in conversion rates.”
Charlotte Ellis, director of digital for premium womenswear retailer Karen Millen, said it was difficult for retailers to use the data effectively.
“We have a lot of data about our customers, but often our problem is in utilising it and our systems can hold us back,” she explained.
Martin Bartle, global communications and ecommerce director at Agent Provocateur, pointed out the dangers of using data based on unengaged browsers to your site to inform recommendations for genuine shoppers.
He said he thought low levels of personalisation were the most appropriate for most customers, but systems like Net-a-Porter’s VIP service work well for your most engaged and top-spending customers.
“If you are talking about an unknown customer, use an algorithm, but if they are a known customer there needs to be some manual interaction,” he said.
But Andy Beale, head of digital and multichannel development at F&F, warned: “The industry has to watch that when we use personalisation, we don’t take it too far because it would be counterproductive.”
Henry added: “Your customer is not going to wait while you sort your legacy systems out. Customers will expect you to know them better than ever before and be able to interact seamlessly this year.”