Creative thinking that delivers results

02 Feb

Mass Customization: eCommerce and Digital trends for 2017

Category: Digital marketing
digital marketing, mass customization

While some have concerns about its impact on privacy, marketers’ ability to employ customization in their messaging will offer consumers a completely new shopping experience in 2017 and beyond. And with the addition of elements such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR), the possibilities are literally endless when it comes to the uses and applications for customization in the digital space.

One-to-One Marketing: The ultimate pursuit

In previous blogs I’ve written about the seminal work developed by renowned marketing researchers and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) pioneers Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in their book “The One to One Future”. They developed the simple notion of going after a smaller audience of clients and prospects with a more tailored message and story and selling more to them.

This differed significantly from the adage of the 1990’s where a broad-brush methodology was used for mass market advertising – getting your message out to the largest audience possible with the hope that someone in that group would value the message and be motivated to buy from you.

Instead, Peppers and Rogers believed in the concept of ‘share of customer’, arguing that if companies were to select their top (i.e. most profitable, highest potential) 20% of customers and prospects and focus their efforts on this target group with highly relevant messages and content, they could obtain a larger piece of this more profitable business.

21st century customization

The digital era has ushered in a new era of “mass customization” thanks to the evolution of marketing automation and other technologies that can help marketers target individual clients on a large scale. But this work isn’t as easy as flicking a switch and letting it all happen. Considerable work needs to go into market segmentation, target market identification and segregation and customized content creation in order to achieve results from the implementation of this new tech.

So is it worth investing in this mass customization? Clearly the answer would be an unequivocal yes, all things being equal. But of course in business things are rarely equal and for many businesses the one critical limiting factor is resources (i.e. money, people, time, etc.). Companies need to carefully choose their priorities, ensuring they align with the overall business objectives and strategy.

The new reality

There is little doubt that the businesses that thrive over the coming decade will be those that are better able to deliver, in a timely manner personalized content, offers and messages that will resonate with the needs and aspirations of their customers. It will become, at least for the short term, a true differentiator in the market, providing riches to those that succeed and spoils to those that don’t.

Now that technology is available to facilitate mass customization, marketers need to invest in these tools if they want to be ahead of the pack and the ones setting the trend for the future. And as was noted above, they not only need the tech solutions but also the skilled personnel to manage these micro-campaigns and their requisite marketing deliverables.

The one big question which still needs to be answered is whether the average business executive will have the vision and patience to allow these campaigns to evolve, take root and bear fruit before the first financial bump in the road causes them to put a halt to these kinds of initiatives.

Implications for ecommerce

Arguably nowhere in the digital realm are the possibilities greater for mass customization marketing than when it comes to ecommerce transactions and sales. The addition of AI and VR will provide a myriad of tools and options companies can use to provide a more personalized service and product offering. It will be like having a product/service expert at the touch of a mouse or smartphone button.

The possibilities are truly endless with this mix of technology. It will provide businesses with a virtual blank canvas to design services that can greatly enhance the customer experience. That it can also be tied to improved customer loyalty and retention will bring further benefits to many businesses.

Another factor that will enhance the delivery of mass customization in 2017 and beyond involves marketers’ use of ‘data aggregators’ - companies that compile millions of data sources on products and services that can be used to provide more detailed information to consumers. Merchants will be able to connect their websites to these data sources, thus enhancing the purchase process.

The resulting product descriptions, images, specifications, price comparisons, purchaser reviews and comments can all be used to facilitate the buying decision by providing additional information that wouldn’t have been readily available before.

And in the end, isn’t that the ultimate goal for any marketer - to facilitate the buying process for its customers, thus enabling them to buy more and more often?