Customer personalization: What do shoppers actually want?

Research-backed advice to help retailers to get customer personalization right in 2018.

The outlook for retail is sunny in 2018.

To quote Forbes: “If 2017 was the year of the retail apocalypse, then 2018 could be the year of a retail renaissance.” This is because retailers have responded to consumer demands and are evolving. Some closures are inevitable, but most retailers are finding their groove.

So, how to continue this upward trajectory?

We know that in today’s landscape, experience is everything. Price wars are fruitless; there will always be a cheaper option somewhere else. So retailers must capture and keep their audience by delivering an outstanding experience.

And the cornerstone of this outstanding service? Customer personalization.

Customer personalization is a hot-topic at the moment. “Predicting customer preferences using big data and AI” was a primary trend in our 2018 retail predictions. And our UK shopper survey confirms that personalized offers make 64% of shoppers more likely to spend more time in store.

But what does it mean in practical terms? And what level of personalization do shoppers actually want?

Today retailers have access to a dizzying amount of data, which they can use to deliver all sorts of experiences. The key is to surprise and delight your shoppers, without intruding on their privacy.

Meeting shopper needs with customer personalization

Based on our US shopper survey, and external research, here are some examples of customer personalization that shoppers actually want:

54% of respondents want their loyalty program tied to their credit card.

Link loyalty to the shopper credit card

According to our US survey, 54% of respondents want their loyalty program tied to their credit card. After all, since the credit card is used for every purchase, why should they have to track their purchases on a separate card as well?

Linking loyalty to the shopper credit card lets you apply loyalty to all channels. Shoppers don’t have the frustration of forgetting their loyalty card, and it saves you money as well.

Adyen makes it easy to identify a shopper and view past purchases by their credit card alone. Dutch luxury department store, de Bijenkorf, uses this information to apply discounts and add loyalty gifts on the spot.

If you’re offering loyalty rewards, make it personal. A study from HelloWorld found that 77% of shoppers think loyalty programs should offer rewards that reflect their preferences.

Be contextual

Forrester Research defines contextualization as a “tailored, adaptive and sometimes predictive digital customer experience that expands on personalization techniques by automating decision-making and adding in-the-moment details.”

50% of US shoppers want location-based discounts sent to their smartphone.

In layman’s terms, this is all about sending the right messages to the right shoppers at the right times. 50% of US shoppers want location-based discounts and coupons sent to their smartphones.

You can do this in different ways. One example is to send push notifications to shoppers near your store, enticing them inside with a discount on an item they’d been browsing online. Or, since most new payment terminals come with beacons installed, you can recognize your shopper at the point of sale via their mobile app. You can then give them the option to pay in-app and relinquish points they’ve accumulated.

HelloWorld found that 55% of millennial respondents like surprises. So, if you’re targeting millennials, offer personalized surprises like discounts at the checkout.

Person on phone

Use payment data to anticipate shopper needs

30% of US shoppers want sales associates to know their preferences and have the items available. So make sure your store is prepared for your regular shoppers.

30% of US shoppers want sales associates to know their preferences.

If all your payment data feeds into the same system, you can map consumer behavior and identify trends to inform these decisions. For example, ‘shopper origin' data will tell you where the majority of your in-store shoppers are coming from. Are they local? Or are they tourists from overseas? Knowing this will ensure you’re catering to the tastes of your most frequent shoppers. You can use this information to determine which items to display, or which payment methods to support. If your in-store shoppers are Chinese tourists, for example, you should consider supporting, Alipay, China UnionPay and WeChat Pay in-store.

Adyen lets you support all major credit cards, mobile wallets and key local methods in the same payment terminal.

You can also use payment data to answer questions like:

  • How many repeat shoppers do you get in-store?
  • Which shoppers buy online and return in-store?
  • How many in-store shoppers also bought online?
  • How much do they spend in each channel?

The insights are endless…

Make relevant recommendations online

24% of US shoppers want product recommendations based on past purchases. If your in-store and online payments data is connected, it’s easy to view the purchase history of your shoppers. So, whether they buy online or in store, you can greet them with a targeted selection of items based previous purchases.

Where to start?

With an array of new technology to choose from, it can be daunting to know where to start with customer personalization. You’ve got chatbots, facial recognition technology, image recognition, and robotics all vying for your attention.

But data insights beat the latest technology any day. Focus on ways to get the most out of your unified shopper data before investing heavily in the latest tech.

And finally, last year we wrote that retailers should focus on small changes, rather than an attempting an entire overhaul. This year’s no different. Aim for small wins, measure your results and keep on iterating your way to success.

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