Raj Badarinath
Raj Badarinath 25 April 2019

How to inspire loyalty in an Amazon-dominated world

In a time of choice abundance, poorly targeted marketing is not enough to satisfy increasingly demanding shoppers. To earn their loyalty, brands and retailers need hyper-detailed alignment with their needs.

Ask any marketing professional, selling online is getting increasingly challenging. Today’s shopper is rich in options. However, between Amazon and Alibaba alone, shoppers are certain to find exactly what they need, provided they are willing to trawl through page after page of cut-price products. In a world dominated by e-commerce giants, smaller e-tailers are increasingly asking “How can I compete?”

The key is not how many options you offer to your customers, but how you engage with them to make them want to buy, and ultimately trust you to provide the service and products they are looking for. After all, loyalty drives success, and at its core, loyalty is a way for a retailer or brand to measure their ongoing value to the customer.

Not that retailers, online and offline, have been unaware of this – the efforts these businesses have made towards increased shopper personalisation have occupied their marketing and eCommerce teams since the early ‘00s, and for many brands and retailers, being able to provide customers a personalized experience has meant achieving an increasingly sophisticated approach, using technology.

Traditionally, marketing teams have been in charge of creating segments that would help organise target audiences, based on similar attributes, into manageable buckets in order to tailor products and offers to them. Segmenting was at first drawn up by hand, later relying on technologies such as Adobe’s Marketo for a more streamlined approach.

This is not enough for today’s consumers, though. The standard “people who viewed this product also viewed” is often a useless technique for eCommerce professionals to deploy, as it fails to make the customer feel recognised and creates no attachment to the brand. Nor do they find value in being endlessly advertised to, product after product, seemingly at random. Today, consumers appreciate content that inspires them, and goods that help them achieve their goals. The abundance of choices has encouraged them to rightly demand that brands and retailers help them find exactly what they need - not a rough approximation.

The disappointing 2018 earnings reported by major UK retailers, until now perceived as invincible, is the most recent piece of evidence: Marks and Spencer, Next and Debenhams have all been going through a difficult time, with shoppers choosing online over physical stores and even then, proving unsatisfied with the classics’ web offering.

Clearly, consumers were not getting what they wanted. Could technology provide an answer again, as it has done for so many sectors and industries so far? Basic personalisation solutions have failed to effectively tackle this issue; this is how the idea was born to leave it entirely behind and enter a new era, marked by Hyper-Personalisation and boosted by AI.

Hyper-Personalisation is an evolutionary step from personalisation tactics in that it narrows down each segment to a market of one, paying individual attention to each shopper and trying to serve specifically their interests and tastes. Only sufficiently advanced technology can achieve this, and so specialised AI is coupled with a new philosophy of customer engagement to crack the complex issue of brand loyalty.

AI driven Hyper-Personalisation can help make sense of a market saturated with options, where customers are overwhelmed with offers and have little chance to really create a meaningful attachment with a brand. In turn, it also helps brands and retailers know what their customers want and provide it to them.

By harnessing AI to surface products and content that are relevant to each person as an individual and not just a part of a segment, the technology allows for increased flexibility and engagement with each customer’s needs, driving their loyalty to the brands they perceive as genuinely valuable.

Marketing work is invigorated, not consumed, by this, as teams have the right tools at hand to execute their tasks more effectively and efficiently than ever before. No longer relying on bulky segments thanks to the AI’s self-discovery feature, they are free to bring real value to their job. Able to tweak and adapt campaigns in-session to adjust to the live statistics the AI provides, they can ensure a more targeted approach than manual, rules-based systems could ever provide.

With hyper-personalisation AI, marketers can finally devote themselves to the creative and insightful part of their job, without being weighed down by repetitive admin tasks.

Ultimately, Hyper-Personalisation will prove to be for marketing and eCommerce what the car turned out to be for travel: a way to become faster and more efficient, with considerably -and measurably- better results.

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