Personalization:  Two Surprising Highlights from this Year's What's Hot Retail Tech Report

Staying up to date on the latest retail tech and thinking through the possibilities and implications for our clients' businesses is one of the more exciting things we get to do. That's why we look forward to reading what's hot, what's not, and what's hype in Forrester's annual "What's Hot And What's Not In Retail Tech For 2020".

While all of the "What's Hot" top 10 tech are interesting, worthy of discussion, and probably familiar to our practitioner readers, I was surprised to see two make the list that I wanted to dive into a little deeper.

Personalization Needs are Not Being Met, this Needs to Change
Seeing personalization technologies ranked so high at #3 on the "What's Hot" list shows that retailers are feeling the heat to become more customer-centric. Forrester's research uncovered that most brands admit they're still doing what they did ten years ago. Further, most brands and retailers feel that they don't have a good understanding of their customer's specific needs. This sentiment is supported by independent research that found that even today, decades after personalization first hit the street, 78% of customers are frustrated by untargeted and irrelevant marketing and communication from brands' campaigns.

Most personalization technologies focus on pre-built category and customer segment-level executed campaigns that don't decipher the signal from the noise or engage customers in meaningful ways. Yet, the bright future of personalization is one of always-on individualization that dynamically builds content in real-time and deploys it across the right channels at the right time when a brand can be of value and service to the customer.

A Renewed Loyalty to Loyalty.
Further showing the necessity for retailers' to be more customer-centric, loyalty programs came in at #5 on the "What's Hot" list. Forrester found that many retailers believe that 

  1. Their loyalty programs don't drive loyalty or sales.
  2. They must revamp their loyalty programs.

While customers love points and discounts, revamped programs should focus on value-added services (ex. enhanced customer service, tiered status, and feedback channels) in addition to the traditional points and discounts. 

Retailers roll out loyalty programs to be profit centers that maximize customer value, but most end up being cost centers that subsidize existing behavior and erode customer value. Acknowledging that loyalty programs need to be revamped and that value to the customer can be delivered in more ways than just points and discounts are good starting points in the overall design and strategy of a new program. From there, the question is how to operationalize it in a way that maintains and builds customer value? 

A (Bonus) Report Surprise
Forrester noted multiple times that the highlighted technologies need to work together across the enterprise to deliver an overall customer experience and value. A loyalty program without personalization will continue to be a cost center. Similarly, personalization technologies without data strategy and advanced analytics will fail to engage customers in meaningful ways. 

Effective customer relationship management that attracts, builds, maintains, and re-engages across multiple channels and millions of customers in real-time only works with an approach that synthesizes across personalization, loyalty, data strategy, and advanced analytics. When done correctly, the results are transformative.

To learn more about how Antuit helps leading retailers embrace AI-powered transformation in analytics, customer loyalty, and business intelligence get in touch with us here.