Personalisation, Retail and Mobile Apps


The past year has seen a huge rise in the popularity of personalisation marketing, as brands come to realise that there are ever increasing ways of reaching customers through various devices.

Personalisation allows retailers to connect with customers based on what they want, depending on preferences they have already expressed, either through initial contact or online behaviour. For many brands, this means that it’s now easier than ever before to use the data that this generates in order to further refine targeting and make decisions based on true ROI.

However, it also means that marketers have to be especially on-the-ball when it comes to getting the message out to the right customer, at the right time, on the correct device.

Mobile is Here

We’re all aware by now of the meteoric rise of mobile and tablet devices and how differently shoppers tend to behave when using them over desktop. Now, we have the ability to reach shoppers in real time with personalised offers than can be location-based.

This has led to many large brands looking to mobile apps to further enhance the shopping experience for customers, especially those that use augmented reality. These can be used in numerous ways to enhance the in-store experience, such as:

  • Stock checks – in a retail fashion store, for example, the app can deliver stock information to the shopper as they browse
  • Nutritional information – simply holding a mobile’s camera over a food product can bring up a host of additional information such as nutritional, special offers on multi-buy, similar products that are less expensive, or even recipes

US grocery giant Walmart teamed up with IBM in 2012 to bring a similar app to shopper as that mentioned above and has since gone on to produce other engagement apps, such as the Man of Steel app.

In a partnership with Warner Bros, the supermarket chain last year released the Man of Steel app alongside promotional merchandise and users could unlock special features by pointing their device at special posters in store. This of course produced a lot of engagement and whilst it may seem slightly gimmicky, Walmart produced the app following success with previous film-based apps which had proved to be successful. This time, the company simply tweaked the app in order to gain even further engagement.

In the UK, supermarket chain Tesco is also moving further into personalisation, having unveiled plans to digitalise its loyalty program so that shoppers will be able to tailor it to their individual needs. The store also plans to shift its marketing spend to encompass more social aspects, which will be complemented in store with LCD screens.

“We live in a world of mass personalisation and the businesses that personalise more will build more loyalty,” Tesco CEO Phillip Clarke said following the announcement.

Understanding the Customer

The data that’s now available represents a great opportunity for retailers to really get to know what individual customers want. What they don’t want is to receive generic information that has little to no bearing on them, their personality or their needs.

Social media has been a real game changer when it comes to how people shop and what they expect from a company. Any retailer that doesn’t recognise the power shift in favour of the consumer and react accordingly is likely to be the one that in the long run, fails.

Why Mobile Apps?

Personalisation and mobile marry perfectly and since as a retailer you’re looking for footfall, the best place to catch potential shoppers is whilst they are on the move. According to analysts at Gartner, by 2017 apps will be downloaded more than 268bn times and will generate revenue of more than $77bn.

Because of this, researchers say, mobile users will in time provide personalised data to over 100 apps and services per day.

“Mobile apps have become the official channel to drive content and services to consumers. From entertainment content to productivity services, from quantified-self to home automation, there is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.

“This connection to consumer services means users are constantly funnelling (sic) data through mobile apps. As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data — what they say, what they do, where they go — that is transforming the app interaction paradigm.”

Valuable Data for Personalisation

The data that apps produce will become an increasing focal point for marketers, especially with the likelihood that we’ll see them used on more and more wearable devices in coming years.

Imagine walking into (or even within a certain radius of) a store and having a welcome notification appear on your phone’s screen. This could then go on to point you to special offers, based on your previous transactions, personalising the experience so that the you feel like a human being, rather than just a receipt number.

Of course, the idea of personalisation and apps does bring up that old white elephant privacy, but this is something that can be addressed on download. A retailer should ensure that its policy is completely transparent and make it very clear that it will be using location services.

Of course the most important thing here is the actual data itself, which can be added to the CRM in order to give the best experience. It does seem that consumers are much more likely to give this information out on mobile devices when compared to desktop, so it makes sense for retailers to offer a mobile app.

However, this can also be supported with personalised email campaigns, which give special offers or suggestions based on previous purchases, similar to how Amazon has formatted its email for a while now.

Add social into the mix and you have a rich and varied data stream which can be used in such a way that it boosts the bottom line for the retailer. This kind of approach to marketing can produce excellent feedback, enhance a retailer’s services and strengthen both the brand and the relationship with the consumer.

Once that bond is there, personalisation data can be further utilised to make business decisions, such as what to stock and further streamline business processes.

Personalisation is perfect for retailers, as it provides a rich seam of data that can be effectively utilised to ensure that the customer is getting what they want, when they want it. Along with the use of mobile apps, this data can make all the difference to the success of a brand. Getting it right is a recipe for success that no retailer can afford to ignore in the modern connected environment.

Kerry Butters

A prolific technology writer, Kerry was an authority in her field and produced content for a variety of high profile sites in her niche. Also a published author, she adored the written word and all things tech and internet related. Sadly she passed away in February 2016 after a valiant battle with cancer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.