Personalization in the retail and apparel sector is about more than just slapping an appliqué on a handbag or T-shirt wherever a consumer chooses to place it.
According to the latest study from Accenture Strategy, companies need to be more proactive in meeting consumers’ wants and shopping experiences. It’s a process that Accenture dubs “hyper-relevance.”
The study gave as an example a Tesla owner in an evacuation zone trying to outrun a hurricane in south Florida. The owner made a request to access the car’s full battery in order to get an additional 30 to 40 miles of driving range. Tesla gave temporary access, but also “proactively unlocked” the range for other Tesla owners in the area who might need the same extra boost to get out of harm’s way.
According to Robert Wollan, senior managing director and advanced customer strategy global lead at Accenture Strategy, that’s the kind of anticipatory thinking that Accenture concluded gives consumers a tailored experience that can ensure customer loyalty. That means a personalization bar in a store that allows consumers to put initials or some graphic on an accessory is “just not enough” anymore, according to Wollan.
In the retail and apparel sector, Wollan suggested that data collected from consumers could perhaps provide some anticipatory insight on styling trends sooner rather than later.
However, the conundrum is in the collection of data. According to the study results of 25,000 consumers between ages 18 to 54-plus, Accenture concluded that poor personalization and lack of trust costs U.S. organizations $756 billion last year as 41 percent of consumers switched companies. Further, 31 percent said they’d find great value in services that intuitively learn about their needs over time to customize product, service or content recommendations.
Yet consumers aren’t so quick to pass along information due to trust issues, such as how will the information be used. Wollan said subscription services such as Stitch Fix ask in their questionnaire not only color preferences, but also what does the subscriber do in their free time to better understand the consumer. That thinking is about how the “more you tell us about what you want, the better we can craft and delight you when we come to your home,” Wollan said. And if consumers are wary of providing that data, companies that seek it can be more transparent on how the data will be used so they can earn the trust required to capture the information, he concluded. Also helping the trust factor is allowing consumers to control how that data will be used.
The study also found that through artificial intelligence, companies can better give consumers what they want provided there is also human input to make educated adjustments to craft a game plan to meet a particular individual’s needs.
“Customers don’t want digital or humans. They want digital and humans…. There is room for error in just AI. This may be the age of digital, but it is not the age of digital only. Both digital and humans are needed to created this type of hyper relevance [that consumers want],” Wollan concluded.