Personalisation has been a key attribute to successful retail over the past decade. So has customisation. Retailers often use the terms ‘personalisation’ and ‘customisation’ interchangeably. In reality, these two terms provide vastly different benefits to the customer experience, both in-store and online. Both offer value to consumers – but what is the difference?
Simply put, personalisation allows the customer to benefit from the retailer delivering a service and experience more relevant to them, tailoring the product offering and leveraging data to provide a more personalised and unique shopping experience. Customisation allows us, the shoppers, to act as designer and through later stages of production, enables our choices to enhance our product.
Personalised shopping experiences used to be very much associated with those who could afford it. Luxury stores will always have their VIP customers to lavish and pamper with premium shopping experiences. At Selfridges, for example, customers are encouraged to book a 2-hour appointment with one of its multi-lingual style consultants within a private and exclusive suite. Clients can also enhance the experience with a food and drink menu. Yet many brands are democratising personalisation to create a greater shopping experience and in turn also securing more brand loyalty.
Sephora is renowned for a personalised shopping experience both in-store and online – for example, using a 3D augmented reality mirror to enable shoppers to virtually try on makeup in-store or though the app. This tool proved itself when the pandemic halted make-up sampling in stores. Sephora delivers the same personalised feel, whatever the channel and focuses on creating personalised loyalty through its Beauty Insider loyalty program with regular free gifts. Rituals Cosmetics offer a 1:1 personalised shopping experience in all of their stores and again encourage loyalty through a membership package.
Rituals Cosmetics offer a 1:1 personalised shopping experience in all of their stores and again encourage loyalty through a membership package. Members can also access curated events and health and wellbeing advice, as well as access to an outlet store.
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Professional services company, Accenture
Whilst the move from mass production to hyper-personalisation can have big cost implications for businesses, there are vast benefits in providing customers with the opportunity to engage creatively with the shopping experience.
Far beyond the choice of a car colour, or Saville Row suit lining, customisation can be as value driven as the toppings for your quick-service burger. The Burger King long standing brand promise to ‘Have it Your Way’ allows a customizable function to orders deliver such customisation.
Customised services are not just the offering of fresh new brands. At 314 years old, luxury London department store, Fortnum and Mason recently launched a tea blending service.
Offering choices from leaf type to flavour the experts who guide customers through the customisation allow each blender to build the perfect profile. Understanding preferences such as the time of day the tea will be consumed allows the bespoke process to create what the brand claim is a ‘a palate-personalised experience, expertly guided by our ‘tearistas’.
The service completes with every element of the blend being stored under a unique profile (consumers also have to create a unique name for the creation which is stored on the Fortnum and Mason database) and then contents are placed into a teatin with the blend name.
Technology is one of the biggest driving forces for customisation and personalisation, enhancing opportunities to make every transaction count. Enabling customers to visualise products by using augmented reality tools before purchase as part of the shopping experience can encourage dwell time and fun interaction with a retail brand.
The greater the opportunity to see as near to real life before delivery ensures consumers have more clarity and helps set expectation prior to arrival.
As we head into 2022, it is clear that the desire and demand from consumers for better retail is relentless. Customers want both product and shopping experience to be completely relevant to them. The more they see what is possible from some retailers, the greater their expectation will be for others to offer the same.
Those brands which are value-driven and which deliver consistently will continue to build an emotional engagement between retailer and consumer. With both personalised and customised experiences at the heart of their offer, future success will be assured.