The latest trends in the retail industry are particularly tuned to the in-store ‘wow’ experience through valuable incentives and ease of customer everyday shopping. Different retailers use different tools and tactics to engage their customers, though there is a common approach for growing customer loyalty: make the customer feel special.
To do this you need to know your customer well, which means collecting and analyzing data. But it’s not only this; you need to have a tool set to make the most of your information in the most efficient way. Online retail has already been successful at this for some time, boosting loyalty and increasing sales opportunities. Synqera, a Saint-Petersburg-based tech startup, brings the best practices of personalization from the online world to brick-and-mortar retail.
Here we sit down with Synqera COO Filipp Shubin,Â to pick his brain and get to see how Synqera foresees personalized customer experience taking a leading role in retail.
Total Customer: What about online retail makes a customer’s experience so engaging?
Filipp Shubin: First of all, this is about the power of data. Online retail employs detailed customer profiles and shopping history, can track real-time customer behavior and interests, source data from partnering web-sites and enrich it with various social media profiles.
But most importantly, online retailers have a proper tool set to leverage this data for the precise targeting of offers and fast optimization of product range, service level and communications. The technologies embedded in online retail require minimal efforts and have already proved their efficiency. This is why physical retailers nowadays want to be Amazon or eBay whose customer satisfaction indexes are significantly outperforming traditional retail.
Synqera believes that in the future brick-and-mortar stores will be personalized, just like online ones are now. When a customer enters the store they would know where to find what they’re looking for, or even what they never thought of, but probably like. That’s the concept of the store Synqera helps to build.
TC: How does Synqera implement online personalization techniques in the real world?
FS: Synqera has developed a data-driven solution for personalized communications with retail customers through multiple communication channels.
This system uses multiple streams of impersonal data provided by business (i.e. from CRM, ERP-systems, POS-systems, loyalty card programs); gathers real-time data, for example local news feeds, weather forecasts, day of the week and date, customer age, and gender mood; and evaluates real-time consumer response to the viewed content.
The collected data is transformed by Big Data analyses into customer insights and allows this data-driven system to personalize communication for the particular customer, as well as delivering the message at the right time and through the relevant communication channel: in-store screens, mobile app, SMS or email.
In doing this the platform enables a consistent peer-to-peer approach in providing targeted offers and coupons, fostering loyalty programs and collecting feedback.
The management and control of the whole bunch of content and touch points is enabled through a single web interface – Synqera Back Office. At the same time it is easy to roll out and does not require obligatory integration with the retail infrastructure.
TC: Which Synqera implementations are live and what benefits do they bring to the retailer?
FS: Right now we’re carrying through a pilot project with a selected store of household goods and a cosmetics chain with its 2.5 million customers and 280 locations throughout the country in total. Simplate, the interactive customer display developed by Synqera and utilizing the Synqera software platform, leverages embedded camera and touch screen for customer engagement at the checkout. It displays to the customers the balance of the bonuses in the loyalty program, collects customer feedback on the service level and product range, rewards customers with interactive badges and shows interactive product offers.
Another integrated solution being piloted is the Loyalty Generator. This is a compact thermal printer with a touch screen created to provide customers with special offers, recipes and store maps at the store entrance. Almost every store prints a catalog of this month`s specials, but it is doubtful whether anyone could look through all of them. The Loyalty Generator is enabled to display only relevant offers, coupons and services to each customer – right before shopping starts.
TC: How is your solution different from others that retailers already use in their business?
FS: Right now the majority of retailers have collections of multiple data about customer purchase history and preferences: what they buy, when and where. Do they use it? According to the recent study by IBM only 15 per cent of retailers are piloting Big Data initiatives.
The Synqera solution makes this data work both for retailers and for customers. Retailers increase sales and boost loyalty by using the right communication channels and messages. Customers get a more compelling in-store experience and spend less time looking for necessary items, but get more time to explore opportunities to make the best of in-store shopping.
This is made possible because Synqera enriches existing retail data with information from open sources such as the Internet or holidays or day of the week of shopping, etc., but also collects more data with device sensors such as computer vision and real-time customer response to communication. Big Data transforms this huge amount of data into customer insights, and it may surprise you to know that people buying different types of hair-dye have a completely different regular shopping basket.