Retailers and manufacturers are obsessed with personalization experience, and for good reason: Four in five consumers are willing to share data in order to receive a better shopping experience, according to Accenture, and 91% say they’re more likely to shop with brands that recognize them and remember their preferences.
In the quest for personalized experiences, most of merchants’ focus has been on harnessing artificial intelligence to provide real-time predictions and recommendations. But there’s another way to learn and deliver on shoppers’ preferences: Just ask them.
By explicitly gathering information about shoppers’ interests and fit requirements, merchants can supplement aggregate algorithmic data used by AI personalization tools. Additionally, they can meet and exceed the requirements of new privacy regulations by confirming they have consent to access each piece of new information. Among the top opportunities:
1) Capture basic preferences by using email or SMS signup forms.
Modal and other pop-up windows often entice shoppers to sign up for email or, increasingly, mobile messaging updates – often with a discount offer attached. Thanks to the incentive, shoppers are unlikely to object to answering a few additional questions, and those responses can provide foundational information for sellers about preferences and interests. Apparel shoppers can indicate whether they’re looking for items for men or women; recreational outfitters can ask which activities are of interest.
2) Reward trend-setters and brand loyalists with VIP status.
For the best personalization experience, offer shoppers the opportunity to sign up for alerts when new releases arrive from favorite brands or product lines. Also, when up-to-the-minute seasonal products are released, or when upgrades and accessories become available for existing products, reward shoppers for their information with “sneak peek” and limited-time exclusive access.
3) Use interactive buying guides and fit finders to create profiles.
Subscription-based brands such as StitchFix and BlueApron rely on extensive questionnaires to discover the most relevant products for their customers; there’s nothing stopping other merchants from offering the same tools as useful buying guides. Merchants can learn shoppers’ size and style preferences, expertise levels, or budgets, and tailor future content and offers accordingly.
4) Ask loyalty club members to pick a local store.
When shoppers join loyalty clubs, merchants have the opportunity to learn about fulfillment preferences and establish links to local outlets most likely to be used for order pickup. With this information, merchants can not only streamline checkout to foreground local pickup and delivery options, but they can also highlight store events and promotions.
5) Post-purchase, solicit more than a product review.
Post-purchase triggered emails can invite customers to engage with surveys that not only gauge satisfaction, but indicate how they’re using products –thereby helping sellers suggest more relevant follow-up offers. Requesting user-submitted content tied to specific occasions or topics can also help merchants predict future preferences.