With the holiday shopping season fast approaching — some would already say it’s here — retailers are sharpening their hyper-personalization efforts in an attempt to boost sales. 

A Deloitte’s OmniaAI report noted: “In order to excel in today’s marketplace, organizations should adopt a hyper-personalized strategy.” Doing so will help “generate new levels of industry-specific customer insights and action.”

Hyper-personalized marketing helps CMOs maximize revenues, reduce costs and elevate CX, the report added. These are all essential for retailers, but particularly during the fourth quarter, when many retailers do a majority of their annual sales.

Below are five ways retailers are maximizing their hyper-personalization efforts.

1. Focus on Zero-Party Data for Hyper-Personalized Benefits

If you want to give your customers the most personalized experience possible, zero-party data is key — and it's data most of a brand's competitors don't have access to, said Ryan Turner, EcommerceIntelligence.com founder. Zero-party data is a highly effective strategy retailers are currently using as a way to benefit from hyper-personalized communications, which is particularly effective in ecommerce, Turner pointed out.

Table stakes here would be collecting basic information such as the names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and gender of customers and prospects, Turner added. “More advanced brands are taking this concept much further and reaping the rewards.”

For example, using quizzes and surveys to collect in-depth data points on customers and prospects enables brands to make specific product recommendations for each customer, even if their ecommerce catalog contains hundreds of SKUs. 

Related Article: Can You Have Your Privacy-Personalization Cake and Eat It, Too? 

2. Monitor Multiple Parallel Journeys for better Personalization

Your customer may be midpurchase online but also have an open ticket with support that was logged through a social media channel, said Antony Adelaar, inQuba head of product marketing for customer journey management and CX. Having access to all of the information makes total context available so that an informed dialogue can take place, he advised. “Advanced best practices by leading retailers include appreciating and accommodating for multiple omnichannel journeys per customer, taking place in parallel,” said Adelaar.

Conversational commerce allows real time dialogue between business and customers through their preferred chat app, Adelaar added. “This may be a WhatsApp dialogue, for instance, where the business is able to address concerns or even connect the customer with support. Today’s leading retailers are also able to measure and leverage sentiment at all steps of the customer journey through real-time natural language processing.” 

3. Blend Conceptual Data, Context for Real-Time Reactions 

Many online search systems today seek to interpret user intent based on phrasing and context to discern transactional, navigational or informational intent, said Johan Liljeros, Avensia general manager, North America. However, without conceptual data, retail ecommerce sites can fail to return the products desired as well as relevant recommendations and content.

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 “Today most retailers seek to interpret shopper intent based on search words, clicks and navigation patterns to surface the best possible content,” Liljeros explained. “Unfortunately, this only describes the specific product being searched rather than the full conceptual understanding of the customer’s needs. The ability to go beyond the current means of mapping customer intent is a true differentiator in today’s modern commerce landscape and vital to support rich and rewarding digital experiences.”

 Technology that brings conceptual understanding to product search for retailers on top of powerful AI, machine learning and behavioral-driven algorithms, empowers retailers to detect and react to consumer trends in real time and to list and recommend the most relevant products with every search, in every given moment of the customer journey, Liljeros added.

Related Article: 4 Methods for Hyper-Personalization That Get Results 

4. Unify Customer Data for More Accurate Hyper-Personalization

To know a customer, companies have to unify their customer data — across each and every touchpoint — and it needs to be accurate and trustworthy, so no time is wasted deduping databases before personalization decisions are made, said Jill Foss Meuzelaar, Amperity director of product marketing.

“Typically, the brands we work with have misidentified 23% of their customers, representing more than half of their revenue,” Meuzelaar added. “If a brand personalizes before tackling messy data problems, they are activating experiences based on inaccurate data and the risk is high that they are getting it wrong.” Once a brand has stood up its unified customer profiles, which usually takes between three and six months depending on the complexity of its data sources, it can begin deploying predictive modeling to help drive decisions about who its customers are and what they want, according to Meuzelaar.

5. Use Granular Data for Next-Level Hyper-Personalization

Innovative retailers are taking hyper-personalization to the next level by leveraging highly granular clickstream data, Coveo AI commerce product marketing lead Andrea Polonioli said. “Clickstream data is at its core the trail of customers’ activity on a website. Each customer enters a site on a certain page and takes a series of actions from there before they inevitably leave. Once enough signals are collected, it is possible to not only infer that, not only is a prospect not interested in a wool sweater, but to also conclude that she is into ethical and vegan fabrics.”

Final Thoughts: Hyper-Personalize During the Holiday Season

Many retailers may already have the systems in place to help drive hyper-personalization efforts. However, fine-tuning, improving and adding to these efforts can make a big difference for most retailers. Using the five strategies above can help take these efforts to the next level, which is key for success during the critically important holiday shopping season.