Power of Personalization – Next Level Commerce™
By: Paul Snelling, Director of Platform Solutions at FreedomPay
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Or so the old saying goes when it comes to personal reflection and fulfilment. Today, however, we sit at a precipice of self-realization in the way retailers view us as human commodities. The vast majority of consumers are blissfully unaware that the power paradigm will shift very much in their favour. The era of “self” concerning everything retail has begun in earnest. We now enter a realm where providing a hyper-personalization experience has become a real do or die for merchants.
The view of the individual as an entity has become the primary objective of engagement where consumers are concerned. As a result, merchants must now reconnect with their customer base in a way they had not done for 50 years when the corner store was a local Mom and Pop affair that knew all their customers by name.
To reach that “Next Level”, businesses must be prepared to adopt and adapt to a rapidly evolving commerce landscape in which you don’t see customers as a whole entity but very much an individual in his or her own right. The individual customer has become a target which is fickle and fast-moving. And so today, merchants must focus on driving more of an experience for customers, thus beginning data-driven conversations.
Without a segmentation bias, each customer now has a specific need and expectation in the products and services they wish to purchase. Put simply, they want their demands met efficiently and effectively and are quite prepared to look elsewhere when this proves not to be the case. The days when blind habitual loyalty and convenience brought retailers return custom are over.
By understanding consumer data around behaviour, and analytics, businesses can be presented with opportunities that, if utilized in the right way, provide a quality hyper-personalized experience and all the benefits that brings.
Hypermarkets have been at the forefront of this trend for over a decade, with loyalty cards that provide valuable data insights that enable the markets offer rewards and bonuses to customers ahead of the weekly grocery purchase. But what if you wanted to track customer spending across different verticals? What if we tried to analyze the customer as a walking loyalty offering, not just providing data through a piece of plastic but spending behaviour? This is where the power shift comes front and centre, with the consumer saying, “I have the cash to spend now. Who out there knows me well enough to offer me incentives to spend with them?”
However, future consumer conversations and the broader interaction between a consumer and a merchant will become heavily scrutinized because of some converging trends on the horizon. The first will see customers wanting control of their behavioural information and to be recognized for providing that data. Ultimately, they understand there is value to their personal information. Secondly, merchants will want to recognize the value of the consumer and their data in a way that doesn’t increase their liability or compliance requirements around that data. So ultimately, the future, especially for a technology company like FreedomPay, involves creating the solutions where the merchant and customer are having a data conversation without stepping on each other’s toes and overstepping the mark when it comes to personal privacy.
These conversations can occur in the context of self-sovereign identity for the consumer. Privacy norms and regulations are likely to shift, creating challenges and opportunities around how businesses target and grow their customer bases while remaining privacy compliant. The way merchants communicate with customers may also become more difficult in the future as the age profile and dynamic of the consumer shifts, with merchants having to work that bit harder to engage customers.
New research from FreedomPay, conducted in partnership with Cornell University, explores Gen Zer’s’ attitudes towards data privacy and their willingness to share their personal information.
The research – which surveyed 200 Cornell students, defined as those born in 1995 or later – found that the perceived privacy level of a piece of information significantly impacts participants’ willingness to share with third parties, such as banks and retailers.
Gen Zers are less willing to share personal details than other generations – re-emphasizing that this generation does place a high priority on privacy issues.
The findings suggest that those sampled are more inclined to give out personal information if there is a monetary reward involved, and participants were clear about how much – and what data – they would be more willing to share.
Ignoring such seismic shifts in technology and behaviour will lead to many businesses losing their foothold because of a lack of connection and relevance to their customer base. In turn, this will ultimately be their downfall. But for those companies who interact with the customer personally, harnessing data and driving conversations around the individual means a contented customer that is happy to interact and engage but, more importantly, spend and spend repeatedly.
Looking to the next decade and the success of ‘Personalization’ as a tool, relies on the ability of brands and merchants to gather and interpret personal data around their customers. This will require continued investment and innovation, but those who find themselves able to adapt to this change, they will ultimately be the winners.