Payments: the key to personalisation in retail

Retailers are cost-cutting, trialling customer policies and experimenting with tech such as smart mirrors in the aim of securing their future. Cutting through the noise and getting through to customers is critical, but also easier said than done.

You just need to look at ASOS updating their extended returns to see how one simple change can cause outrage with customers classified as ‘serial returners’. With customers now demanding a more personalised experience, delivering on these expectations will be integral to the long-term health of many retailers. Yet, how can retailers ensure personalisation is successful and doesn’t result in a negative backlash?

Data-led insight

Omni-channel retailers are ploughing a lot of resources into gaining new customers and some are even excelling in this area. However, retailers must address the entire customer experience, from the first point of engagement through to the next purchase. An example of this is Amazon Prime. Through its easy to follow returns and refunds processes it is redefining quick and simple shopping for consumers.

However, having a good customer experience doesn’t always translate into a personalised one. Recent research from Valitor and WBR reports that just 25% of companies feel they excel at personalising payment options online and a mere 25% of retailers feel they excel at personalisation in-store. If retailers are to stand out they need to get personal and go the extra mile to get deeper insight into their customers. This is a huge challenge.

If omni-channel retailers are to create a successful personalised experience for their customers, brands must do more than second guess customer needs. It is critical then that decision-makers hold access to data points throughout the entire customer journey if they are to make a true impact on the shopping experience. Despite retailers’ confidence in their payment options and returns policies, there is an industry-wide understanding that siloed data is presenting a consistent barrier to connecting and personalising the customer experience. However, the good news is that there is a solution to the data problem and it comes from the checkout.

Calculating the customer experience

Whether it’s in-store or online, payments are central to personalising the customer experience. During the checkout process customers can either confirm or abandon their purchases. For this reason, retailers spend a lot of attention omitting friction from the checkout process to reduce baskets being abandoned and increase sales.

Using insight from checkouts is, therefore, a strong starting point for creating a more personalised experience and reducing the number of basket abandonments. In fact, the research shows us that when mapping the customer journey, 61% of retailers start with how people pay in any given channel and work backwards to the point where they first encounter the brand and their products.

Omni-channel retailers can get a range of data from checkout including their customers’ most popular payment methods and favourite products. Thanks to tokenization, retailers can combine data from multiple sources and obtain a complete view of their customer behaviour rather than operating across siloed data. Tapping into this kind of data enables brands to adapt the customer experience accordingly and make their customers happy from the first point of engagement through to their next purchase.

Perfecting personalisation

Payments are a critical part of knitting together the entire cross-channel customer experience. From in-store to online, retailers need to offer flexible solutions that meets the real needs of the customer. This means implementing quick and easy returns, localised payments or one-click purchasing. As stated in Deloitte’s report on the mass of personalisation, if businesses fail to adapt, they will risk losing revenue and customer loyalty.

If retailers offer a strong omni-channel experience, they can access a range of data that can in turn inform smarter marketing, loyalty schemes and set the benchmarks for innovators in their field. For retailers, there are huge marketing opportunities to gain from an omni-channel payment system. For instance they can optimise on sales through using multiple channels to build more tangible relationships with their core customer base.

Yet retailers and customers can only reap the benefits of omni-channel if both parties trust each other.  If customers do not trust retailers with their data in the first place, then retailers cannot build an agile infrastructure that will make customers come back for more. Enabling customers to pay any time, any place is a key part of unlocking a personalised experience, and in turn, build trusting and lasting customer relationships

The future of retail resides in personalised experiences. Get it right, and retailers will be not just securing their customer base, but also their future. Fail to hit the mark and retailers cannot achieve an integrated and personalised relationship with their customers, turning them into another forgotten retailer.

 Angus Burrell, General Manager, Omni-channel Solutions, Valitor

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