Robert Massa
Robert Massa 12 March 2019

Pure Plays - It Pays to Know your Customer

There’s no denying it’s tough on the high street, but it is becoming clear it’s not just bricks-and-mortar retailers who may be struggling. So, faced with the risk of sliding sales, what can pure plays like Boohoo and Farfetch pull out of the bag to shore up their earnings? Here, Robert Massa, General Manager, BounceX EMEA explains how scaling behavioural marketing through identification now offers a solution.

Pushing the boundaries of personalisation

Pure plays such as Boohoo and Farfetch have built their business models around their definition of personalisation. Every customer interaction with their website helps to tailor and curate the online product offering, with increasingly relevant products put before the consumer increasing the opportunity of a sale.

For example, new visitors to both websites are asked about their favourite brands, what kinds of looks they like, the prices they typically pay for different clothing items, size information and so on.

The fly in the personalisation ointment is that unless consumers are logged on to the retailer’s website or using an app, personalisation is reliant upon cookies to identify the website visitor – and this is where it all starts to unravel.

What’s so bad about cookies?

For years, cookies have been the lynchpin of online retail personalisation, but as the customer journey has become increasingly complex they have been made virtually obsolete. 

Any attempt to track customers’ buying signals results in a fractured and disjointed picture of little real use to the retailer. That’s because, where once a consumer used a single device, their buying journey now typically spans multiple sessions involving different devices, over a longer time frame.

When explained like this, it’s clear to see that any pureplay retail model reliant on cookie-based personalisation is going to struggle to create truly relevant content that speaks directly to the individual consumer.

Behavioural marketing

While cookies, at best, market to individual devices, identifying anonymous traffic enables marketers to target the individual shopper, no matter what device they’re using. This behavioural marketing enables retailers and brands to create ongoing, relevant conversations with individual consumers across all their devices, browsers and channels - both on and off a retailer’s website. 

The result is that the marketing approach becomes universal, each channel building on the next and working to guide consumers through a seamless journey to conversion. 

These conversations are shaped and informed by the shopper’s digital body language – the behaviour they display when they interact with an online retailer. 

For example, do they go straight to a product page? Do they hover over a ‘buy’ button? Do they examine sizes and colours or read product reviews? Did they come to your page from Facebook, email, Google, Instagram?

Each of these actions matter, and by interpreting these signs, and many more like them, retailers can guide valuable traffic to the next most productive, relevant and profitable action in the journey to conversion.

It’s all about identification

By focusing on the identification of individual website visitors, behavioural marketing overcomes the challenge that has, until now, made one-to-one, cross-channel marketing impossible. In practice, successful marketing to an individual boils down to at least one piece of data, such as an email address, phone number or device ID, which can identify the individual across devices, browsers and channels. 

Once the individual is identified they can finally become the focus of a marketing strategy, forcing those continually changing technologies – channels, devices and browsers – to revolve around the customer and create an experience based on their relationship to your business.  

Faced with tough trading conditions, pureplay and omnichannel retailers and brands need to double down on what they do best – push the personalisation envelope and get to know their customer like never before.  

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