5 Ways Retailers Are Using Marketing Tech to Support Personalization Efforts

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Personalization, or one-to-one marketing, has become a key element for marketers looking for ways to stand out in a crowded digital landscape. Eighty-six percent of consumers say retailer personalization impacts their purchasing decisions, and 31% say they want to see more personalization in their shopping experiences.

The notion that marketers don’t have access to the types of data they need to improve the relevancy of their marketing efforts is a fallacy. Most retail brands already have everything they need, it’s just a matter of using the data in creative ways to generate more personalized content for consumers.

Here are five examples of ways that major retailers have made their marketing initiatives more relevant using data that was already available through connected POS, CRM, mobile apps, and other marketing technology systems.

1. Tapping local store data to improve the online shopping experience
One way that retailers are providing their website visitors with more personalized shopping experiences is by giving them real-time information about what’s available at their local stores. The specialty clothing retailer Zumiez partnered with the retail technology solutions provider Radius8 on exactly this type of endeavor. Together, the companies launched a “contextualized experience” in 650 brick-and-mortar stores. The initiative layers shopper geo-location, store inventory feeds, and “intelligent analytics” based on nearby web browsing behaviors. With this in place, Zumiez can promote the most popular jeans being sold at specific store locations to customer searching near those locations. The retailer can also run limited-time promotions, like flash sales, on products that are likely to be popular given current weather conditions.

2. Targeting emails to maintain customer loyalty
The recreation retailer Moosejaw uses customer data to improve its targeting and personalization efforts across multiple marketing channels, including email. The company’s analysts interpret customer data to determine which types of email specific customers will receive, along with who should receive catalogs and direct mailers. Moosejaw has worked with the predictive marketing vendor AgilOne to identify which products consumers want to purchase and which brands they like, using the information from AgilOne to power automated email campaigns for loyalty program members. Moosejaw can track which products and categories customers are spending their rewards points on, and it can integrate product information into marketing emails.

3. Making store-level merchandising selections based on local customer needs
Understanding what customers want has helped Whole Foods make better merchandising selections. Earlier this year, the organic grocery chain partnered with the global customer science firm dunnhumby to start taking local consumer preferences into consideration when making merchandising decisions. Specifically, dunnhumby uses local purchasing data to help Whole Foods determine which products, services, brands, sizes, and flavors customers would like to see on local store shelves, understanding that preferences can vary by region, state, and even neighborhood within the same city.

4. Offering discounts based on usage of branded mobile apps
Target’s Cartwheel shopping app has been largely heralded as a success since it launched in 2013, but just last year the company took it up a notch with expanded personalization capabilities based on past purchases and app usage. Cartwheel users were already scanning the app when they made in-store purchases, which meant Target already had the data it needed to increase the relevancy of offers sent to customers within the app. With its new personalization features in place, Target is now able to provide mobile app users with recommendations based on their past purchases. The app also serves personalized offers based on user interests.

5. Using interactive web content to learn about consumer preferences
Understanding the importance of having a successful back-to-school season, the handbag retailer Vera Bradley posted a “Style Seeker” quiz on its website for the dual purpose of promoting backpacks to seasonal shoppers and gleaning insights into its customers’ personal tastes and intent. The initiative, which was done in partnership with the personalized experience management platform Certona, was meant to help shoppers find the products they were looking for on Vera Bradley’s website and in-store, but it also provided Vera Bradley with insights into what consumers wanted from their back-to-school products. The data from Vera Bradley’s online quiz could be used to generate more targeted marketing campaigns, or in understanding how individual tastes influence the product styles and colors that consumers select.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.