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Retail Tech Innovation / Enterprise Innovation, Hong Kong: Cognizant’s Global Delivery Head for Retail and Consumer Goods Says Retailers Need an Effective Personalization Strategy to Win Digital Age Customers

“The line between brick-and-mortar and online retail experience has blurred for consumers,” says Singaravelu Ekambaram. “Retailers are exploring the relationship between mobile, web and in-store experiences and loyalty programs based on how consumers connect and what they value. Retailers are focusing more than ever on providing a superior customer experience (CX) across channels.” Excerpts:

“Brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly embracing virtual interactions with fashion gurus, celebrity chefs and nutrition experts over a video wall, social walls that also display trending products from your social circles, interactive ‘endless aisles’, digital kiosks at vantage points, way-finders to quickly navigate the store, mobile POS solutions for checking out at the aisles, and beauty-bots focused on everything from skin-tone to hair repair.

Understanding customer expectations is only getting more intricate with the millennial generation. Retailers are seeking help from anthropologists to manage these expectations. They are adopting mechanisms such as social listening and analytics to understand customer sentiments and deciphering customer conversations to draw insights about their brand, product and service. This has given them the confidence to approach CX in a much more engaging fashion.

Retailers today are continually striving to gain competitive edge by leveraging technology to enhance the products and services they provide. However, at times, it is challenging to do that since technology is constantly evolving and so are customers’ expectations. You can adopt new technology, expand your reach, and diversify messages across diverse channels. But without understanding CX, as customers experience it, investments in new areas may not yield the desired results. The skewed rate of technology adoption compared to its rapid change, creates further gap in offering services that match up to the customer expectations.

Retailers now have access to abundant customer data and how they engage with their brands. It is absolutely essential to harness this data to understand the customers and make customer experiences more personalized and seamless.

The first step in customer personalization is to create a “customer halo” via a “customer data platform”, where a digital trail of the customer is created and enriched on an ongoing basis. Retailers are putting greater focus on gathering data to provide a 360-degree view of customers in order to enable greater levels of personalization. In order to do so, a holistic view of the customer must include not just demographics and communication preferences, but also interests, attitudes, and behaviors. In essence, an effective personalization strategy can help retailers win customers in the digital age. Unfortunately, the primary types of data that retailers are collecting today are not helpful to support hyper-personalization.”

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