It’s Time to Put the ‘Person’ Back in ‘Personalization’
Personalization is a big buzzword in the modern world of ecommerce, but what does it mean and how can it truly create a lasting impact on sales? The reasoning for personalization is clear – thanks to the expansion of the 800 pound gorilla known as Amazon. Margins are shrinking and the demand for super-fast delivery is now the norm. Unfortunately for businesses, that is not a recipe for success.
At the same time, direct sales are caught in the middle. The convenience and accessibility that comes with the online world make it increasingly difficult to connect with customers, to differentiate from the crowd and to create relationships that generate repeat business. As many have come to realize, online shopping and direct sales have simply been at odds.
While this trend has been a bomb blast for many retailers, there is a unique opportunity as we sift through the rubble. The opportunity stems from a new din rising from consumers – one for a better and more personal experience. Most retailers have heard the call and have dipped their proverbial toes in the personalization waters, with promising but limited results. Welcoming customers by name, offering recommendations for products that other people have bought, chatbots and sending emails to attract customers back have become commonplace. They are transparent, however, and only a glancing effort to really connect with the customer.
It all begs the question – how can true personalization be delivered in a way that doesn’t eat up margins and that creates an experience that makes customers yearn for more? As it applies to the online channel, what is missing from the online experience? The answer is us – people.
Whether a retail consumer or a buyer for a business, we all want the same thing. We want to be respected as a valued individual, not a number in a database.
As consumers, we have traded the value of nuanced human knowledge and assistance for low prices, fast shipping and convenience. This is great for staple items, but it leads to frustration as the price for items increase. Businesses, on the other hand, have made a similar trade-off, accepting sales with minimal margins while cutting personnel costs to make-up for lost ground.
So, let’s assume that we introduce human contact into the online equation. How does this help the consumer and drive value for the business?
Whether business or consumer, both sides benefit from enhanced contact and collaboration. AI certainly has its place, but that value is to augment – not displace.
Simply put, re-introducing human contact into the online equation offers the consumer what has been lost, gives the business a clear path to regain an identity beyond low prices- and saves jobs in the process.