The Record - Issue 21: Summer 2021

153 R E TA I L & C PG I NT E R V I EW J ust a few decades ago, almost everyone shopped at local stores where merchants greeted them by name, helped them to find products and knew how best to meet their indi- vidual needs. In the 1980s and 1990s, direct mail catalogues became a popular way for retailers to market their products to target audiences and enable consumers to shop for goods without leaving their homes. Today, many customers shop via a combination of physical and online stores. However, one thing has remained the same throughout the decades; customers have always expected retailers to provide a personal- ised service at all times. “Consumers want brands to understand and value them as individuals and deliver products, services and experiences that cater to their specific needs,” says Michael Klein, director of industry strategy and marketing at Adobe. “Such personalised experiences make the end-to-end shopping journey quicker and more convenient and enjoyable. However, delivering these types of experiences has become increasingly difficult with the rise of online shopping and the growing number of customer touchpoints. “In the past, retailers were delivering person- alisation to a relatively small customer base, now they’re trying to offer it to thousands – and sometimes millions – of people at a global scale across both physical and digital channels.” Over the past few years, retailers have been experimenting with different strategies to over- come these challenges, largely taking a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach. “At the crawl stage, retailers focused on being able to identify new and returning customers and by the walk phase, they’d progressed to factoring in historical customer data and additional contextual information such as geographic location and age demographics,” says Klein. “This enabled them to tailor certain aspects of the customer experience to individuals. Now, high-performing retailers are entering the run phase and aiming to offer real- time personalisation at scale to every customer at every stage of the shopping journey via every channel. Their ultimate goal is to provide custom- ers with personalised products and services before they even know they need or want them.” To achieve this objective, Klein recommends that retailers leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and other personalisation technologies. “Retailers need to be able to merge data from multiple sources, analyse it rapidly and use these insights to assemble relevant content that can be delivered in real time at the customer’s point of need,” he says. “Our solutions, which are Adobe’s Michael Klein outlines how retailers can successfully implement personalisation at scale to deliver engaging experiences that boost customer loyalty and drive sales The power of personalisation BY R E B E CCA G I B SON