As the chaos of pandemic continues to envelope our lives, people are now immune to the life in the new normal with digitization as the new rope to hold on to. From daily necessities to clothing and fashion accessories, nowadays people are more inclined towards digital avenues to suffice their shopping requisites.
Fashion being an integral part of our social lives, as more and more consumers are moving to the e-commerce space, online fashion retailers are sure to top the revenue charts in the new normal.
According to Ananth Narayanan, CEO, Myntra-Jabong, “The penetration of online shopping which is currently at 4% will go up to 10 – 15% over the next 3 to 5 years.
However, to make most of this opportunity, online fashion brands must be able to cut through the competition, by delivering an unmatched customer experience. And to do so, online marketers need to reinvent their strategies with more personalized communication.
Personalized customer experience help marketers enhance their chance to generate more sales in comparison to those who haven’t adopted this strategy. According to a report, published by Forbes, 80% consumers are willing to make a purchase from retailers that personalize their buying experience.
Challenges faced by online fashion retailers during the new normal
Building a personalized marketing eco-system is easier said than done. To create a robust online personalization strategy, marketers need to evaluate the roadblocks laid down due to the pandemic, its impact on business flow and most eminently on consumer behaviour. Here are few industry challenges that marketers need to tackle:
- Complying with changing consumer preferences: As I mentioned earlier, fashion is an important part of our social life. With work-from-home (WFH) being the work culture in the new normal, consumer buying preferences have drastically transitioned from luxury wear to comfortable fashion including home categories, and beauty products. As a matter of fact, face masks have become the daily wardrobe essential and a new fashion statement with designs available for every occasion.
According to Amazon’s sales report growth in apparel sales fell by an average of 40% while “Indoor” fashion categories, such as lounge wear and active wear, fared better.
Another article published by IndianRetailer.com, suggests that, the online retailer ‘Koovs’ has launched a campaign called #AboveKeyboardDressing targeted to work from home professionals. Apparently, the brand foresees tremendous potential in this category.
On the contrary, an online work wear brand Fable Street made face masks in subtle prints and colours to ensemble the work fashion statement.
So, brands need to catch up with the changing needs and preferences of the customer, lest they should be left behind.
- Disruption in supply chains: Large scale of consumers drifting to online avenues has caused disruption in supply chains as marketers are under constant pressure to keep inventories available according to the rising demand and deliver the shipment on time without causing consequent delays.
- Embracing safety protocols: Most customers are reluctant to shop due to safety issues with regards to the delivery. Therefore, brands need to comply with the safety and health regulations during the dispatch of the product and ensure that all the warehouse workers and delivery agents are in good health. Determining the ‘hot spots’ and tackling the delivery issues in those areas are certain challenges, online brands need to overcome.
According to a report, 64% consumers want mobile and contactless pickup or check-in options.
Leveraging personalized interaction to amplify conversions
There has been a drastic shift in consumer’s buying behaviour amidst the COVID era. And believe it or not, this change is going to be prolonged. To beat this crisis, marketers have to come up with a unique customer experience that will persuade buyers to shop more online and that’s exactly what personalization does. Personalizing online brand messages, recommendations and offers according to each unique visitor profile enables effective engagement, conversion and retention of your potential customers online.
Despite possessing a vast pool of data and technologies at disposal, many marketers end up delivering poor personalized experience that leaves customers in a shopping dilemma, adding up to their dissatisfaction. As per Smart Insights 63% of consumers will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics.
Nowadays, customer expectations from brands have evolved like never before. They want brands to provide solutions to their exact problem, without being bombarded with a trail of redundant choices.
As Donald Porter rightly said “Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” And therefore, as a marketer, you must scoop out the individual expectation of the online shoppers at every instance you come across, to craft the best customer experience throughout the time they spend on your online portal. Here, the key is to effectively analyse consumer demographics, interests and behaviours to build content and experiences that resonates with the needs of your online audience.
So how do we understand customer expectation after all?
Answer is through the power of meaningful data! Data is the glue that holds your personalization strategy in place. This data is acquired from various touch points of user journey like buying habits, intent analysis, shopping appetite, frequency of purchase etc. Smartech AI engine helps you build a hyper-personalized experience driven by the power of data accompanied by AI and ML based technology to derive maximum online conversions.
If you are a marketer who wants to construct a durable ‘Personalization Engine’ for your business, here are the steps to help you get started!
Step 1: Building a buyer persona to identify target customer
Kick-start by studying the individual data procured, to understand the buyer persona. A buyer persona is a research-based user profile that helps identify a target customer. It’s an in-detail description of your potential customers and their requirements. Buyer persona helps you gauge the buying decisions and challenges that each customer face. A buyer persona is crucial for every marketer in getting a clear view of their online customers to serve them better.
Step 2: Deploying omni-channel customer engagement strategy
Enable seamless brand experiences through omni-channel customer engagement across multiple platforms like E-mail, Social Media, Mobile Apps, Website, E-com site, etc., to deliver unified customer experience. Customer-centric omni-channel strategies enable brands to retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel customer engagement.
Step 3: Using personalization to deliver customer experience
Once you have collected all the necessary information, it’s time to create personalized messages and recommendations based on the data like the target profile’s purchase history, buying frequency, spending appetite etc., to create a personalized offer that suits their requirement.
For instance, Myntra, the online retail fashion giant, uses personalization as the epicentre to build a robust customer experience. They use the transaction and browsing history of each users on the platform, their search pattern, buying behaviour and wishlist, to determine the fashion preferences of their customers, called the user’s taste profile. This profile helps the brand to understand the kind of brand category and price point that a user prefers. Aside that, it also helps them narrow down the user preference for each category, making it easier to recommend the right product, providing a seamless and unique shopping experience. And this is how Myntra leverages personalization to win loyal customers along with high-scaling revenue.
Utilizing personalized communication during festive sales in the new normal.
Curbing in-store retail offers tremendous scope for online fashion retailers, to engage and acquire new customers during the festive season. And to leverage this seed of opportunity, marketers have to be prepared with their A game in personalization. As per report, Indian buyers are projected to spend INR 15,000 on average, with a majority surveyed planning to increase their budgets from last year. This is the result of the pent-up savings from the last few months, resulting to a ‘revenge buying’ festive season. According to research, 71% customers aim to make unplanned purchases during Dussehra and 85% of planned shoppers will conclude their planning before Diwali.
Use personalization to seamlessly hike up your sales during the festive season by
- Promoting crisp and alluring content across platforms.
- Analysing the user journey and identifying the target prospects.
- Following the digital breadcrumbs to learn the customer expectations.
- Send offers on their last outfit search to seamlessly seal the deal.
- Personalized product recommendations to boost interaction.
- Re-engage with dropped prospect through personalized email or web push notifications.
This way, you will be able to touch-base customer at every point they attempt to buy something, allowing the customers to stay with you till the end whilst deriving complete customer satisfaction.
Personalization is no more a fad but a future wave in the marketing era. With user preferences constantly changing and increasing demand for better online customer experience, personalization and AI & ML technology is going to be the heart of marketing in the world of new normal. While all of us anticipate the next stage of this global crisis, it’s essential that online retailers keep a strong marketing plan in place that delivers a matchless online retail experience making customers to return back every time they wish to make a purchase, creating a durable customer and brand relationship virtually.