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How using customer preferences increases consumer confidence

by on February 24, 2016 in Business, Customer's Voice, Digital Marketing, Lead Article, Lead story, Nuggets, Research, Retail, Retail News, Tech

How can apparel retailers capitalise on rising consumer confidence to grow sales?

Of course, there’s no magic bullet and every retailer will necessarily adopt multiple strategies – but there’s growing acknowledgement that leveraging explicitly shared customer choices and preferences can help organisations to grow revenues.

The synopsis of a new report from analyst group Forrester, Implement Preference Management to Build Customer Trust, is clear: “Empowered customers are increasingly opting out of irrelevant and undesired marketing communications. Preference management is a powerful tool that lets customer insight professionals combine analytical insights with explicitly shared customer needs and interests to deliver on the promise of ‘right place, right time, right message’ communications.”

In essence: customer preferences, in all their forms, have the potential to drive personalised engagement and to help organisations of all kinds to deliver across multiple channels the kind of seamless customer experience that most consumers – and Generation Y, raised entirely in a technology-driven world, in particular – require.

Indeed, Forrester data shows that 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question, while 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. It also chimes with recent comments from Asda’s chief customer officer, Barry Williams, who said that Asda customers’ priorities could be summed up as “save me time, save me money”.

Personalised engagement in an era of mass market apparel retail looks increasingly essential. commissioned its own research this autumn which showed that 72% of UK consumers find it difficult to find what they are looking for when shopping; 67% of UK shoppers sometimes or occasionally find it irritating or annoying to have to search through a lot of clothes to find the items they want, and 14% said they always find it so. The implication – that retailers should present only garments that are of interest to the individual customer – found support: 78% of clothes-buying adults said that if retailers only showed them garments that it knew would fit them, it would help them to choose garments to buy.

This is understandable: ‘fit’ is the intuitive customer preference where clothing is concerned. The fitting room has, after all, been well-known for many years as the point at which the consumer decides whether or not to make a clothing purchase. But, for apparel retailers to build personalised engagement strategies around the vital customer preference of ‘fit’, it follows that retailers must be able to collect and then make sense of those individual customer fit preferences – that is, they need to understand the relationship between that data and their own garments.

To achieve this, shoppers first need to be persuaded to share certain personal data with retailers. Is the collection of such consumer preferences possible in apparel retail? Survey says yes: 45% of UK consumers are happy to share their personal measurements with retailers when shopping in return for a better shopping experience (other surveys we’ve seen yield higher numbers). Without doubt, any such number may be elevated through better communication of the benefits.

Stuart Simms, CEO,


What degree of competitive advantage awaits apparel retailers who tackle such personalisation initiatives?

Does it justify the effort?

Again, shoppers tell us yes: fewer than half of shoppers (47%) currently feel that their favourite clothing retailer is either good or strong at providing them with an individualised or personalised experience. Our own suspicion, supported by other survey responses, is that the majority of clothes shoppers have an underdeveloped appreciation for the potential of personalisation. We think that the 47% figure would be significantly lower if they really understood all the possibilities enabled by technology and data science today, and what their favourite retailer could be doing but was not doing.

The bottom line is that if retailers can make sense of the data and preferences that shoppers are willing to share with them, in order to curate the customer experience and recommend products that will deliver the right “fit” on an individual basis, then these brands will be able to help their customers to find what they want quickly – meeting their expectations while still learning yet more about them and their preferences.

Your shoppers?

More engaged and happy with your brand and the experience it delivers, and more confident that the clothes in front of them are perfectly suited to their preferences. If their general economic confidence is on the rise, and they’re confident in their purchase… well, they’re more likely to buy, aren’t they?

Stuart Simms, chief executive,

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