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Big Ideas from NRF 2023: Personalizing the customer experience

Industry leaders explain how to connect with customers in the modern retail environment

NRF 2023 kicked off this year with the latest retail trends, topics and innovations with some of the industry’s biggest leaders.

Personalization in retail has been a hot topic in the industry for the past several years, and was a big part of the discussions at the event.

Tulip’s Big Ideas panel featured Marco Benasedo, CIO Boggi Milano, Brendon Gerisch, CCO John Elliott, Rissa Jarratt, VP Retail Jenni Kayne, and Ali Asaria, Tulip CEO, to get their perspectives on the topic.

They shared their insights and industry expertise on what personalization requires in the modern retail landscape and how to use it to create memorable customer experiences.

The role of brick-and-mortar in personalization

In today’s world, many businesses operate primarily online, and the benefits of ecommerce are undeniable. However, the importance of a brick-and-mortar presence is becoming increasingly apparent for its role in personalization. DTC brands like John Elliott, Allbirds, and Wayfair have started making the omnichannel migration in recent years, highlighting the significant shift from the ecommerce-only approach. 

As Brendon illustrates, customers often want to engage with products physically, to touch and feel them before making a purchase. In-store experiences allow customers to connect with products— and the brand— on a deeper and more personal level. Having physical stores enables retailers to showcase and educate customers on their brand and products which creates an immersive experience for the customer, that the majority say is just as important as the products

While digital channels offer convenience and efficiency, having a physical retail footprint remains an important way to connect with customers and create meaningful experiences that foster loyalty which drives sales.

The role in-store retail tech plays in personalization

In-store technology has become increasingly important for retailers who are focused on providing personalized experiences for customers. As Ali mentions, the best retail associates are already able to build highly personal connections with customers by knowing the important things about them, such as their preferences, and using that knowledge to connect with them, such as reaching out directly when new products arrive. However, this level of personalization is only possible for a small percentage of associates who have developed these skills over time. 

This is where technology can play a role by providing tools to the remaining associates, allowing them to behave in the same way and create those same human connections with customers. For example, Tulip Clienteling enables associates to keep track of customer interactions, preferences, and purchase history and allows them to access that information in order to make personalized product recommendations and provide a more tailored shopping experience. Essentially, technology is being used to augment human abilities, not replace them. 

By using in-store retail tech, retailers can enhance the customer experience by tailoring it to individual preferences and creating more meaningful interactions between customers and sales associates.

A personal connection starts with authenticity

The retail landscape is more diversified and competitive than ever. Customers have a plethora of options right at their fingertips and they’re not afraid to abandon a brand to explore them. Authenticity has become a crucial factor in building trust and loyalty. Which is why standardized messaging just doesn’t cut it anymore. 

Customers want to feel a personal connection with the brand, and a one-size-fits-all approach can come across as impersonal and disingenuous. Retailers need to show up authentically and be transparent, genuine, and true to their brand values. Customers feel a personal connection when there is trust between them and the retailer which leads to higher levels of loyalty and overall customer retention. Just a 5% increase in customer retention can dramatically increase profits as well up to 95%.

By prioritizing having authentic interactions with customers, retailers can build stronger relationships, increase customer loyalty, and create a sense of community that goes beyond transactional relationships. 

Brand differentiation helps strengthen the relationship

In the competitive retail landscape, brand differentiation is key to establishing a strong connection with customers. Finding a differentiator that creates a unique identity will look different for every brand— such as product offerings, brand values, customer service, or in-store experience— but it is integral to being set apart from the competition. 

For in-store experiences, brands like Jenni Kayne offer surprise-and-delight in the form of gifts, while others like AG Jeans offer services like complimentary alterations with purchase. Both of these personal touches create a memorable experience that differentiates the brand.

Additionally, having and communicating a unique brand identity helps attract like-minded customers who share the same values and vision. When customers feel a connection with a brand that aligns with their values, they are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty and become repeat customers. 

By prioritizing brand differentiation, retailers can create a strong relationship with their customers, leading to long-term success and growth.

Miss us at NRF and want to learn more?

Watch the full Big Ideas panel featuring Brendon Gerisch, CCO of John Elliott, Marco Benasedo, CIO of Boggi Milano, and Rissa Jarratt, VP Retail of Jenni Kayne now.

Contact us to see how Tulip’s Store Experience Platform can revolutionize your business.

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