Whether it is personalized license plates, decorative phone covers, social media profiles, or even just a soda bottle with your name on it, there is one universal truth: People like to feel unique. And with the resources that are available through the internet and smart technology, personalization in the retail industry is now easier than ever. But in an age when consumer data is vast and easily available, is there a risk that customers may see use of this data as more invasive than beneficial?

The facts suggest otherwise; 57% of consumers say they're willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts, and 62% say it’s acceptable for companies to send personalized offers or discounts based on items they’ve already purchased.

 
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Additionally, customers are not only willing to share their information, but more and more now expect companies to use it, and in some cases, buyers actively look for brands that offer retail personalization. Fifty-two percent of consumers say that they are somewhat likely to switch brands if a company doesn't make an effort to personalize their communications to them, and 51% of consumers expect that by 2020, companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact.

It is clear then, that many consumers are already looking for a more personalized retail experience. As it stands, it is the younger generations that are most on board with online retail personalization — 63% of millennials and 58% of Gen X customers are willing to share data with companies in exchange for personalized offers and discounts, as opposed to 46% of baby boomers.

As the industry moves increasingly toward personalization, however, it is important to know the various benefits that it provides, for both your customers and your business.

1. An improved customer experience.
Data collected makes it easier to send customers personalized offers. This makes for a better, more streamlined shopping experience for customers. However, the benefits also extend to interactions that customers have with your company. A massive 89% of marketers think customer experience is their main differentiator. Whether in a marketing setting or through customer service interactions, representatives are able to instantly access customer profiles and use relevant data to more effectively help customers.

2. Better data for better business decisions.
When asked to prioritize one capability that will be most important to marketing in the future, one third of marketers answered with personalization. Through advanced analytics capabilities, marketers are able to ensure that the right offers go to the right customers through the most effective channels. And when you put predictive intelligence into the mix, that data can help you accurately forecast trends, predict customer action, and supply effective next steps automatically.

3. More repeat customers, higher customer retention.
All of this adds up to a higher rate of customer retention. As shown by the more than half of customers who said that they would switch brands for personalized communication, retail personalization is becoming a major brand differentiator. This means that you are more likely to not only keep your current customers, but have a head start in gaining new ones. As it becomes more common, expect to see more and more customers looking for brands that offer personalized retail.

Most of these benefits are available through the use of an effective customer relationship management (CRM) platform. These platforms often come with the kind of web analytics personalization retail depends on, as well as tools for managing customer support, marketing, sales, ecommerce, and more.

 
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Of course, with the way that retail personalization is growing, the CRM industry is seeing a significant boom. This makes choosing the right cloud platform from the options even more important. Here are some tips for making sure you get the right one for your business:

  • Make sure that customer satisfaction is always the main goal. Ultimately, whatever is best for your customers will be best for your business.

  • Choose a platform that can integrate across every department. From sales to marketing to customer service, a more unified experience is possible when you are working from one main platform.

  • Check that it has the right tools to help with a personalized, unified customer experience. This should include, but not be limited to, predictive analytics, case management, multichannel marketing, mobile capabilities, and tools for application development and creating a customer portal.

  • As always, cost effectiveness in business is paramount. Make sure that the platform has options for different packages, and that you can find one that makes financial sense for your business.

There are a lot of CRM platforms that will provide some of these solutions, but none can do so as well as Salesforce. Salesforce solutions such as Marketing Cloud use artificial intelligence and smart analytics to allow top marketing teams to reach their customers in a better, more personal way than was possible before. Through working in tandem with other Salesforce solutions, businesses both large and small are able to receive a full 360-degree view of each customer, providing only the best experience for that customer and a unified one-to-one journey every time.

As technologies improve, retail personalization is no longer something that is simply appreciated; it’s something that the average customer has come to expect. Help your business stand out from the crowd. With Salesforce CRM solutions, a personalized customer experience is only the beginning. Create a fully customized, one-to-one customer journey for each and every individual client, and see just how happy your customers are when you stop treating them like statistics.

After all, the customer data is there, and your customers are waiting. The right retail personalization tools can turn that data into effective customer service insights, and help you turn your business into something personal. Start harnessing the power of AI in commerce today, and see just how personal a superior retail experience can be.

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