The power of personalization and omnichannel retailing with Ketan Kansara

How personalization and omnichannel retailing go hand in hand in delivering exceptional customer experiences

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools
Published 23 February 2024
Estimated reading time minutes

As an Enterprise Account Executive at commercetools, Ketan Kansara is constantly communicating the value of composable commerce to C-level executives and senior stakeholders. With over 20 years of experience in technology and eCommerce sales, he’s experienced the evolution of the industry and it’s only served to build his passion for helping organizations create world-class digital experiences.

A seasoned observer of trends in commerce (as well as an active participant), he often shares his perspectives on his LinkedIn page. Recently, he sat down with this writer to share his thoughts on what consumers want from their digital commerce experiences today — providing specific examples for clarity — and offered up insights on how brands can start delivering to meet customer expectations.

The power of personalization and omnichannel retailing with Ketan Kansara

Q: What do you feel is top of mind for customers right now?

A: In today's digital age that we're living in, consumers expect a truly seamless and personalized shopping experience across various touchpoints, physical and digital. As technology evolves, businesses have to adapt their strategies to meet these demands and these requirements, and they're constantly changing. Two key strategies that I feel have emerged in this landscape are, one, personalization — both customer experience personalization and product personalization — and two, omnichannel retailing. By combining these strategies, retailers can build a happy, loyal customer base that will deliver on the business outcomes they’re looking to achieve.

Q: So, what does personalization entail from your perspective?

A: In my view, what personalization involves is customizing the customer experience based on individual preferences, behaviors and past interactions. What have you been searching for? What have you previously purchased? What's your color, your size? Knowing more about you allows the retailer to custom-tailor your shopping journey. It’s for you not to have to repeatedly provide the same information over and over again because they already have all that information as part of your profile. 

By leveraging data analytics and machine learning algorithms. retailers can gain valuable insights into individual preferences to deliver truly unique experiences for product recommendations and suggestions and, of course, for subsequent marketing follow-ups. So, in essence, that's the personalization and tailoring of the shopping journey I’m talking about.

Q: What are the benefits to the retailer?

A: One of the primary benefits of personalization is the ability to enhance customer engagement. This is critical along with improving customer satisfaction because how a retailer makes you feel throughout your interaction with their touchpoints is what will make you go back to them.

When you feel understood and valued, you're more likely to remain loyal and make repeat purchases. Online retailers can use their customer's browsing history and purchase patterns to recommend relevant products. A great example here, let's say, is Jaycar Electronics. Say, I’m an enthusiast building a particular robot, and I might not know that another chip can enable my machine to do all these other things. They can recommend products and services tailored to my interests [because they know what I’ve purchased in the past], and this enhances my experience. That’s unique personalization — and it’s the kind of thing customers notice and get value from. 

Q: How is personalization evolving in commerce today?

A: It’s the little things, like the brand knowing you like the color black and putting apparel that is black at the top of the product page. Or when you’re typing in a search, it’s completing that search for you because it knows what you’ve been looking for, so it removes that friction for you.

I think in the near future, retailers will be able to make product suggestions on what to buy that will look good with items you’ve purchased from them in the past. Let’s say you are a Lacoste customer and they know you’ve bought t-shirts, trainers and other cool gear. They’ll be able to see your wardrobe virtually and be able to understand what you like so they can offer you things they know will work for you. I think it would inspire you to make better use of your wardrobe, right?

Q: How does a retailer translate this personalization to their brick-and-mortar channel?

A: Brick-and-mortar stores offer a perfect opportunity to leverage customer data to offer personalized store experiences — and to collect additional data for the future. So if I go into a Jaycar store, a subject matter expert can look me up quickly and say, ”Hey, Ketan, I can see that you've purchased these specific items and I can see you're building a workbench right now, so let me show you some things that would be relevant to you.” 

It’s important to remember though that personalization extends beyond recommendations. It encompasses every single touchpoint along that customer Journey, right? So, what I mean by that is that mobile, desktop, tablet, email communications —  experiences across all the channels that the retailer offers should deliver that same level of understanding of you. That is how retailers can foster deeper connections with the customer, and that is where omnichannel retailing comes into the picture.

Q: So, personalization and omnichannel retailing should be employed together?

A: Omnichannel retailing involves integrating various channels online and offline so that a retailer can deliver a seamless, cohesive shopping experience for customers. And that’s what they expect today — a unified experience that lets them transition from channel to channel without friction — instead of viewing each channel in isolation.

For instance, a customer may browse products online and then visit a physical store to see the items in person and learn a bit more details. Maybe the customer even tries the item on and ultimately makes the purchase back at home. You've already got a two-way cart. With omnichannel, the cart could start on any channel and it follows the customer until they check out.

Imagine if you see an item from a retailer you love in an advertisement at a bus stop, tube station or train station. Imagine if you were able to scan a QR code immediately and put that item in your cart or purchase it immediately. You get an interactive experience while creating attribution for the retailer that the marketing tactic worked. 

Omnichannel retailing enables you to heighten the level of personalization you’re delivering to the customer. But, the key to omnichannel retailing is to get it right, to put the technology and processes in place to ensure your customers can transition between your channels without any inconsistencies.

Omnichannel retailing truly enables brands to leverage the strength of each channel and the capabilities of each channel to enhance the overall experience for their customers.

Q: Why isn’t every retailer doing this? What are the blockers?

A: In theory, many organizations recognize the necessity of adopting this approach to maintain a competitive edge. However, for omni-channel organizations, this ideal often seems unattainable. The primary obstacles include technological limitations, incompatible data models, insufficient system extensibility, inadequate processes, and a shortage of skilled professionals capable of guiding organizations towards a more flexible and composable business model.

You have to have technology that connects with other best-of-breed technologies that allow you to enable these things. You need to have the best search engine, the best loyalty platform, the best payment gateways and the best order management solution available. These are some of the blockers — and not every organization can start with a clean slate. So, say you've inherited a technology stack with technical debt,  then you have to justify things like, “What kind of returns will I get if I replace this component?” It's a journey that organizations have to go through. And, often there are many questions: “Where do I start on this Journey? Where am I going to get the quick returns to allow me to continue this journey?” These are important questions and are the first step in changing the status quo.

Q: What needs to happen to get retailers to move forward?

A: Business users should prioritize the challenges that are escalating from being trapped by their technology. They have to understand the impact and the benefits, explain them to the CFO and then, of course, put a change management process in place. I think this fundamentally has to happen for businesses to get it right and it's essential because they’re all vying for market share and customers aren't as loyal. You're going to go somewhere else if you’re not happy with the experience a retailer is delivering.

Essentially, personalization and omnichannel retailing create a synergy that drives customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty. These are the things that you need to be at the forefront of the industry — not just retain market share, but to claim market share and long-term success, By prioritizing personalization and omnichannel retailing, retailers can drive engagement,  satisfaction and loyalty, positioning themselves for sustained success in an increasingly digital, interconnected world. 

To learn more about how the right technology can help you deliver exceptional customer experiences, download The Omnichannel Playbook: Leveraging Composable Commerce for Omnichannel Experiences.

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools

Anita J. Temple is the Corporate Journalist at commercetools. She was a fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and W Magazine before launching a career as a freelance writer and creative producer. She has written content and worked on a wide range of marketing projects for companies including Dreamworks, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Verizon, and Adidas.

Related Blog Posts