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customer experience

Retailers ‘must hyper-personalise’ to survive

Only 34% of IT decision-makers at UK retailers are “very confident” that their organisation will be able to keep in touch with customer concerns and anxieties in the cost-of-living crisis.

This is according to research from Ensono, which says retailers expect to lose an average of almost one-third (29%) of their customer base as the cost-of-living crisis continues.

The research, which surveyed 500 senior IT decision makers working in UK retail, revealed retailers feeling the strain of rising prices and the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

It found department store brands expect to lose an average of 32% of customers – the largest drop across the different areas of retail surveyed, highlighting the need for innovative solutions to retain existing customers.

The most pressure is on the smallest retailers, with tech decision-makers at retailers with just 1-9 employees expecting to lose 36% of their customers. This compares to 27% at retailers with more than 500 employees.

Customer connection is front of mind for UK retailers in navigating the difficult economic climate. Confidence, however, is muted across the industry. Only 34% respondents are “very confident” that their organisation will be able to keep in touch with customer concerns and anxieties during the cost-of-living crisis, with 48% “somewhat confident” and 17% ‘not very confident/not confident at all’.

Higher revenue is no guarantee of confidence in connecting with customers. Retailers with a revenue of £500 million – £999.99 million were in fact more confident (73%) than retailers with revenue of £2 billion-£2.9 billion (69%).  Retailers in essential services like grocers (89%) and fashion (88%) are more confident about staying connected with customers than their counterparts in the luxury space like entertainment (71%) or health & beauty (74%).

The research makes clear that retailers are committed to finding new ways to innovate and modernise the services they offer to customers. Sixty-three percent of IT decision-makers have increased tech investment as a result of rapidly changing consumer behaviour. Leaders are focused on several areas of technology to spur growth in 2023:

  1. Behavioural and product analytics (39%)
  2. Monitoring and performance tools (36%)
  3. Cloud Infrastructure (36%)

Retailers are prepared to move quickly on this investment. More than three-quarters (76%) of retailers said they prioritise first-mover advantage on tech investment to avoid being left behind by competitors. This focus on first-mover advantage was particularly strong in Grocery (91%), Sports & Leisure (86%), and Fashion (85%).

This conviction is backed up by clear alignment with the rest of the business: 79% of respondents agreed they have a voice in shaping the strategic direction of the business.

Steven Jones, Consulting Director at Ensono, said: “Retailers are facing a challenging 2023. It’s clear that many in the industry are bracing for severe customer losses as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite for UK retailers.

“Survival will require retailers to be agile, taking swift action to preserve and make the most of the customers they have. Technology investment by retailers needs to be strategic and targeted. High-impact tools like data analytics help retailers build a more comprehensive picture of customer behaviour, staying connected with customer needs and priorities, and enabling them to deliver a hyper-personalised, memorable experience every step of the way.”

How can marketeers address ‘loyalty destroying’ home delivery experiences

By Kitty Poole (pictured, above), Chief Marketing Officer at Doddle

Home delivery hit the headlines in the UK last December when a perfect storm of Royal Mail strikes and extreme weather resulted in huge backlogs and many people not getting their parcels in time for Christmas. Doddle found that 62% of shoppers had experienced at least one delivery issue in the month, and 39% of consumers were considering switching retailers to avoid problematic carriers, their reputations damaged by the peak delivery failures.

For marketeers, this has once again highlighted the delivery experience as an important vulnerability in the supply chain with a material brand impact. Putting safeguards in place to ensure consumers avoid the annoying and loyalty-destroying experiences of delivery failure will be crucial at a time when retaining customers is more important than ever, given the challenging economic background and drop in consumer spending.

Since the Covid pandemic consumers have become accustomed to online shopping and increased their expectations of retailers.  A poor delivery experience can be extremely damaging to long-term customer loyalty and generate bad reviews or other negative brand impressions. This is a major challenge for marketeers who are increasingly aware that what were traditionally viewed as operational issues, are now at the heart of any reputational marketing.

For marketeers the Out-of-home (OOH) delivery offer is a win in many ways. It gives shoppers the ability to select convenient local pickup and drop-off points for their online shopping and returns, providing them with choice and greater flexibility.  In addition, the increased security helps address other concerns.

One of the most potent benefits of OOH delivery is that it escapes the familiar unpleasantries of a bad home delivery experience. There can be challenges (queueing at a post office or shop counter for a parcel isn’t always ideal) but in working with customers, we’ve repeatedly seen OOH delivery achieving the highest Net Promoter Score of any delivery type. In addition, the psychological benefit of controlling when to pick up a parcel encourages customers to feel positive about the merchant.

We recently conducted research into European Out-of-Home Delivery Options, surveying retailers across the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy to learn which merchants are offering OOH delivery; how they’re making it happen; whether it’s working for them; and what carrier partners need to provide to merchants to make their ecommerce checkouts more effective at converting and retaining customers.

Our survey showed that 77% of European merchants offer OOH delivery and are reaping the benefits, including increased conversion rates, average order value and net promoter score.  50% of our merchant respondents said that they saw an increase in conversion rates since adding the out-of-home delivery options, with 20% saying they saw a significant increase.

OOH deliveries cater to an important demographic of shoppers who cannot guarantee they’ll be at home to accept deliveries, particularly during the working day. Giving them the confidence that they won’t miss their delivery should make them more likely to purchase in the first place and 55% of merchants surveyed saw an increase in average order value since adding out-of-home delivery options to their checkouts. In simple terms, customers who are confident that their delivery will be available at a convenient time and place are liable to spend more.

In addition to enabling the reduction of delivery costs OOH deliveries can also be marketed as the sustainable delivery option.  With fewer deliveries being sent to individual homes, and consumers trip-chaining their errands and parcel pick-ups or drop-offs into local collection points, emissions are reduced as fewer kilometres are driven per parcel. 80% of our survey respondents indicated that they believed it was important to offer consumers a sustainable delivery option – a role OOH delivery should absolutely qualify for and can be promoted to fill.

As the world continues to ‘open up’ and the consumer becomes increasingly busier, implementing integrated OOH delivery options in 2023 will be crucial for retailers to stay ahead of the curve and meet the demands and preferences of the ever-evolving online shopper.  Delivery is often an underrated aspect of customer experience. However, thinking of it as the culmination of the shopping experience requires us to understand the impacts of a negative delivery experience on the retailer’s brand.  In contrast to this, OOH delivery offers huge opportunities for everyone involved in the delivery journey – the customer, carrier and retailer.  For the marketing team it means they are no longer fighting brand damaging issues and can focus on the positives.


Building an Omnichannel Shopping Experience: AR/VR and the Metaverse

By Bach Nguyen Luu, Deputy Director of Integrated Commerce Solutions/ Head of Digital Commerce & Experience, FPT Software

Omnichannel is no new concept in retail, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak. Brands can no longer rely solely on the brick-and-mortar in-store experience as consumers flock to the internet to shop. Today’s shoppers expect a unified, customised experience, with 76 percent of consumers more likely to buy from brands that personalise customer interactions across touchpoints. This means building a true omnichannel shopping experience is no longer a nice-to-have – it has turned into a strategic priority.

Offline and online co-exist

When e-commerce came to life and forever changed the retail landscape, there were questions over whether online shopping would mean the end of brick-and-mortar stores. However, the past few years have shown that it is not a question of online or offline; instead, both worlds co-exist and complement each other.

Online shopping has boomed in recent years, accelerated by the pandemic. According to UNCTAD, the average share of global internet users that purchase online went from 53 percent in 2019 to 60 percent in 2021. Some countries even experienced a sharper increase, such as the United Arab Emirates, doubling from 27 percent to 63 percent.

Despite this trend, brick-and-mortar stores remain a strategic distribution channel for retailers. Indeed, nearly half of American consumers prefer in-store over online shopping, attributed to factors such as the ability to see and feel products before they buy. What is more, the retail sector is now experiencing a reversal of what happened during the pandemic. In-store sales are growing at a higher rate than online channels. But consumers no longer want offline-only or online-only shopping; they expect a smooth, seamless and highly integrated experience of both.

Given the shift in consumer behaviour, retailers that invest in a solid omnichannel strategy enjoy a competitive advantage over pure online/offline players. On one hand, they can achieve higher revenue as omnichannel consumers shop more frequently. According to McKinsey & Company, in the apparel category, omnichannel customers shopped 70 percent more often and spent 34 percent more than pure offline shoppers.

On the other hand, retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence typically attract more customers organically than online-only players. This translates to lower investment in paid marketing and a better bottom line.

Global retail giants are already participating in the omnichannel game. Previously online-only brand Amazon has joined the brick-and-mortal playing field with Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh. Equipped with technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), multi-sensors and state-of-the-art CCTV cameras, these stores allow customers to shop without the hassle of checking out. In return, the company can keep track of consumers’ habits, send corresponding offers and discounts, and offer a customised shopping experience.

Augmented Reality shopping

Consumers should be the focus of any omnichannel approach, and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) is the vehicle for brands to become more consumer centric. According to Eclipse, 71 percent of consumers say they would shop more often if they could use AR.

AR/VR bridges the gap between in-store and online shopping. With the help of AI and machine learning, brands can now engage with consumers in a way never seen before. The pandemic has fostered a new demand in retail – the ability to see and feel a product on a digital platform. With stores closed down, the live, in-store experience had to become virtual, and AR/ VR is the perfect solution to fulfil this new demand.

Global brands are beginning to leverage the technology. Ikea is already incorporating AR/VR into its strategy. With its mobile app, the company allows customers to scan their rooms and digitally place furniture in their houses with real-time customisation, browsing through 2,000 catalogue items from the comfort of their own homes.

Metaverse for retail? 

Metaverse – a current buzzword – refers to an “integrated network of 3D virtual worlds” accessible through a VR headset. It is a fast-emerging space where people can shop, be entertained, and it blurs the lines between physical and digital life. Given its potential, the metaverse is expected to empower the next evolution in omnichannel retail, with AR/ VR being the key vehicle for that journey.

Big brands such as Ralph Lauren and Gucci are already on their path of exploring a new business model called “Direct-to-Avatar” (D2A), where they will be selling products directly to avatars – the consumer’s digital personas on the metaverse. Their products are no longer made of atoms, but of bits and pixels.

Even the runway has made its debut on the metaverse. The first ever Metaverse Fashion week was held in March, featuring luxury brands and household names. It is now possible for consumers to sit next to the runway, try and buy any outfit they like in a matter of seconds – all in the virtual world. Companies will not only be selling products on the metaverse but also offer new worlds of virtual experiences to their customers.

With the incredible success that AR/VR games like Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox have had, the next generation of consumers will be familiar and comfortable with virtual worlds. It is only a matter of time until they will want to see their favourite brands on the metaverse. Major tech players have already invested billions of dollars into making the metaverse an indispensable part of e-commerce. Hence, a good starting point for companies looking to engage with consumers on the metaverse is to build up their resource pool involving AR/VR,5G internet, blockchain, crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFT).

It is only a matter of time until the metaverse becomes the new playground for retailers. Those brands that have planned ahead will take the lead.

Junior marketers ‘driving customer experience innovation’

Junior marketers are playing a leading role in driving innovation, with 50% saying that trying out new techniques and ideas to improve customer experiences is a major part of their day-to-day activities.

That’s according to Optimizely’s Culture of Experimentation report, based on a survey of 200 UK in-house marketing executives, assistants and managers, which also highlights that 50% of marketing assistants are directly responsible for improving the customer experience, compared to 42% of marketers at management level.

The report reveals junior team members are being entrusted with driving innovation and change to improve customer satisfaction, with only 14% saying they don’t have the freedom to try new things and 24% that their opinion isn’t valued by senior team members.

Commenting on the findings, Kirsten Allegri Williams, CMO of Optimizely, said: “It’s very encouraging to see that so many junior marketers in the UK are being inspired to challenge established marketing practices. Experimentation is integral to the customer experience, so introducing this mindset and challenging the status quo can significantly impact how brands interact with their audiences in a positive way.

“Junior marketers are the ones who are likely to shape the future of UK marketing. Bringing this experimentation practice will absolutely help to advance their careers, along with their enthusiasm and a fresh thinking. It’s vital that senior team members embrace this and drive collaboration at all levels, making everyone feel heard so new data-based changes are implemented wherever possible.”

Tips for successful customer journey mapping

By Leanne Coker, Service Design Lead at dxw 

Approach mapping in the same way you would any other design task – by starting with user needs and testing it.  Recognise that the formats we’re used to as designers (blueprints, journey maps, and the like) are not always familiar to the intended audience and in fact may not align with their mental model.

Make time at the start to think about who the map is really for – is it for the team, internal stakeholders, external stakeholders? It’s probably likely to be a combination. Think about their needs and accommodate them. Create different versions if you need to.

Before you’ve invested too much time in creating a work of art, test your idea with different audience members. It might be a blank or partially complete template but there are still valuable things to learn by showing it to people. Ask if it makes sense to them? Can they work with the format? This will save time reworking things down the line and help make the map more effective.

Don’t feel constrained by templates and prescriptive formats

There are standard map formats and templates, and they are really helpful. They prompt us to think about the right things, save time, and overcome blank sheet paralysis. However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for.

For example, a project brief might ask for a customer journey map or service blueprint because it’s the done thing. But without a clearly understood purpose and audience it might not add value. Other traps to avoid are letting our thinking become constrained by the boxes and lines on a map template or getting bogged down trying to populate all the sections with detail that’s not useful.

We might start with a template but then tweak the structure to fit our particular needs right now. Sometimes we may only be interested in certain rows from that blueprint, or we might want to create a hybrid map that’s a user journey/service map mashup. We might want to create something totally new and that’s okay too. Freestyle mapping can land us at the most elegant and impactful result.

The mapping process is as important as the outcome

Co-creating maps with the team or wider stakeholders can be a great way to gather information and generate a shared understanding. It also supports collaboration and effective decision making. But it’s not always best done in this way and the decision to co-create or not will depend on why you’re producing the map as well as access to information, people, and time.

If you’re creating a map on your own, the process can still be a learning experience. It helps us organise and synthesise our own thoughts. It will generate important questions and discussions. Make sure you don’t lose them. Write them down and follow them up.

Get comfortable with imperfection

A map is only ever going to be a representative model of the world so don’t get hung up on perfection. Our maps are only ever drafts too, as the world and our thinking are constantly evolving. So, when the time comes to share a map we’ve been working on, we can stick a date on it and be happy that this is the best model we have right now.

We shouldn’t feel limited by the fidelity of our maps but instead appreciate the clarity that a simplified view of a complex world can bring.

Describe it properly

It’s essential to properly label the map and provide a description of its purpose and what it’s trying to communicate.  Make clear whether it’s a map of the current or future state and at what stage of the project it was produced. A good map should be based on reliable source information from user research or other documentation – make sure this is referenced too. It’s also good practice to add the names of the creators and make it clear who owns and maintains it.

Be aware of the pros and cons of doing this work remotely

Lots of us are missing sticking post-its on whiteboards and other physical artefacts right now. While virtual whiteboards have been a life-saver for many in 2020, they have pros and cons. These tools can add a layer of complexity and constrain creativity when doing service mapping. For some, working on a small screen can feel claustrophobic and mean that we lose some of the context or zoomed out perspective. Being aware of these limitations when choosing a mapping approach is helpful.

Covering a wall in our own home with post-its might help to overcome some of these challenges. Others won’t be there to see it but we can take a photo or digitise and share afterwards.

Remote service mapping does have its benefits too though. With whole teams and organisations working from home, more people are becoming familiar with online mapping tools and this can create new opportunities for collaborative mapping and visual thinking.

Typical online purchases involve seven steps taking three hours

Shoppers work through several stages before making a significant buy via the internet, which includes spending at least 35 minutes deciding whether a purchase is absolutely necessary.

Following that, an online search for a product or service, including on social media sites, will take place over the next 33 minutes.

And the survey of 2,000 adults found an average of 30 minutes is then spent reading online reviews and recommendations, with the average shopper avoiding a purchase if something has less than 3.4 stars out of five.

While one in 10 wouldn’t buy something with 99 five-star ratings if it has just a single one-star review.

Half an hour will also be spent narrowing down the choices between brands by comparing to other similar products for price and quality.

Other steps include sharing potential purchases with friends or family, putting something into a virtual basket – then the final hurdle of completing the transaction.

The research was commissioned by Vision Direct, whose CMO, Ashley Mealor, said: “As purchasers are spending so long scouring reviews, it is so important for businesses, especially those operating online, to be accurately and fairly represented.

“We recognise there are some brands which have reviews that cannot be trusted, as those writing them have been incentivised to do so.

“Implemented for the main purpose of generating favourable online appraisals, the concept of proposing incentives or hosting competitions can be misleading and skew authenticity.

“It’s encouraging to see platforms such as Trustpilot, starting to take great steps to ensure it is a level playing field for all by revising regulations and stopping all consumer incentives – to address a controversial grey area.

“With the prevalence of dishonest reviews online, the seven stages of shopping feels like a sensible way of ensuring a purchase – particularly one of value – is made well.

“You are then not just relying on reviews, but also word of mouth, social media, customer service and brand comparisons.”

The research also found 62 per cent of respondents think of themselves as ‘considered’ purchasers – who don’t buy without thoroughly researching the item first.

However, 14 per cent are happy to describe themselves as an ‘impulse’ buyer, who shops first then asks questions later.

But Brits would not consider something to be a ‘significant’ purchase if it fell below the £163 price point – and the last time they spent more than £100, they deliberated for eight days.

And 31 per cent are more likely to make a significant buy online, while 25 per cent would rather do it face-to-face – with the remainder not caring either way.

Although consumers are more likely to be suckered by an impulse purchase in a real-life store, than by something they see online (30 per cent vs 23 per cent.)

It also emerged that in order to ‘fully trust’ a brand, Brits want to receive their goods in perfect condition (45 per cent), experience super-quick delivery (26 per cent) and be on the receiving end of exceptional customer service (41 per cent).

But while 78 per cent of shoppers leave online reviews after using a company, just under half are more likely to do so if they are offered an incentive like money off their next order, or a chance to win a prize.

However, a huge 83 per cent of those polled via OnePoll believe unscrupulous sites or brands often put up fake positive reviews to try and trick people into buying their goods.

Ashley Mealor added: “Our study found online reviews to be hugely important to lots of people – half say they are important, especially when considering eyewear or eye medication.

“It can be hard sometimes to know whether an online review can be trusted, particularly where your health is concerned.

“This is where the fifth stage of shopping – getting real-world feedback from people you know in real life – can be hugely beneficial.

“If somebody you know and trust is willing to recommend something that word-of-mouth review is worth its weight in gold to any manufacturer.”

1. Deciding on a need for something – 35 minutes
2. An online search for the product you want including social media sites – 33 minutes
3. Reading online reviews and going through recommendations – 29 minutes
4. Narrowing down between brands by comparing to other similar products for price and quality – 31 minutes
5. Share links with friends and family – 14 minutes
6. Getting something into your online or real-life basket – 19 minutes
7. Actually making the purchase – 24 minutes
TOTAL – 185 minutes – 3 hours and 5 minutes

Don’t trick your customers this Halloween, treat them with spooktastic content

By Katharine Biggs, Content and Marketing Manager at parcelLab

When I read that searches for Halloween are up 889% and already features in its top five search terms, I had to stop and think for a second: it’s still only just September, right? And we’re talking about 2020 – the year when Covid-19 turned the retail world upside down and left many bricks and mortar stores with no other option but to shut their doors for good. And then of course there is the long-term economic impact which last month saw the UK declared officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years. 

As summer draws to a close, I’m sure many of us find ourselves in this position every year, asking ‘Where has this year gone?’ But this has been a year like no other and now we find ourselves with 79* days left until Black Friday and 107* days left until Christmas for brands and retailers to navigate what the “new normal” will look like, adapt and prepare for what is traditionally the ‘peakiest’ season in the retail calendar. 

But Halloween is usually a slightly different story. Generally, this high level of searching and buying activity isn’t expected until October but still with 52* days to go until Halloween, it seems that consumers are already planning out their frightful activities. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise; for three-months, families were confined to their homes and staying in has become the new going out. So if you can’t go out trick-or-treating under social distancing rules, what better way for families to celebrate than in their own haunted house? 

According to Leanne Osbourne, Commercial Director at notonthehighstreet: “Customer searches for Halloween products such as unique food and drink, partyware, decorations, games & activities and clothing/accessories traditionally increase around mid-September, but this year searches began in early August as customers are planning further ahead for special occasions and celebrating key dates in the diary with loved ones at home.”

Yet the almost 900% increase that notonthehighstreet has reported wouldn’t usually be expected until the week before Halloween itself. 

Where are shoppers turning for inspiration? The digital screen in their home or pocket, of course. Great news for ecommerce, multi- and omni-channel retailers! Well, yes. But only if you are making the most of this opportunity by maximising value for your customers, and that includes after they have checked out. The post-purchase phase of the customer journey, where customers are tracking their delivery via email and text updates, is a prime time to put all your Halloween marketing efforts to good use. 

With open rates as high as 75% – significantly higher than the standard marketing emails that brands and retailers might put out – these email updates are a great opportunity to engage your customer and offer them something of value – which, in the spirit of Halloween, could be anything from how-to video tutorials, decoration inspiration, candy treats or ghoulish recipe ideas and other themed content that shows you, as a brand or retailer, care about your customer beyond the sale. That’s the foundation of long-term brand loyalty right there. As well as letting them know how, when and who will be delivering their items, it’s an opportunity to up- and cross-sell complementary products that will add to their Halloween festivities and ensure that they don’t go looking elsewhere for it. 

It’s all about communication. Create an open dialogue through this channel with your customers and give them an exceptional customer experience. Show them that you’ve got this covered and they’ll be coming back for more, well after the fake cobwebs have been dusted from the party – in prime time for the peak season to come. 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

5 steps to optimising conversion rates with customer journey timelines

Over the last few months, as consumer behaviour naturally changed and evolved throughout lockdown and beyond, like many of our customers, you may have seen a massive rise in the volume of visits to your website.

In order to help you convert more opportunities and capitalise on increased traffic, Go Inspire Group have created our 5-step guide to getting more conversions. 

Step 1: Cluster all interactions into Customer Journey Timelines

Disparate visits from thousands of users should be clustered into customer journey timelines that group all interactions a known, or unknown individual makes with your website, across all channels, in one place.

This displays something more closely related to the customer’s actual purchase journey behaviour, as well as highlighting how different channels and campaigns are working together to drive traffic to your website. 

Step 2: Identify Individuals

Identifying whether an individual is a known customer, unknown repeat visitor or phantom visitor can inform your decision whether to deliver personalised messages through CRM activity, to invest in targeted acquisition remarketing and paid search, or to suppress your marketing from individuals unlikely to convert. 

Step 3: Segment your visitors based on engagement

Segmenting visitors to your website based on engagement, value bands and channel preference empowers you to develop bespoke marketing campaigns for Retention and Acquisition.

Overlaying your existing customer segmentation from Single Customer View and CRM data can allow you to build a rich picture of your customers and join the dots between your online and offline worlds. 

Step 4: Filter out the noise

Picture yourself walking past a store of any kind with motion sensors on their entrance doors. If you trigger the doors but do not enter the store – should you be classed as a meaningful visit? 

No, you are what we consider to be a ‘phantom’.

The reality is, around 98% of visitors to your website are probably phantom visitors – who land, bounce and then never return. 

Removing phantoms delivers significant benefits across your digital marketing for example:

  • improve quality scores by removing those who will never convert from your remarketing selections
  • get an accurate read of how acquisition campaigns are performing by only including meaningful visits
  • supress existing customers from acquisition campaigns to avoid wasted spend

By first removing the phantoms to ‘filter out the noise’, only then you can begin to understand your website’s true performance.

Step 5: Optimise marketing spend

By completing steps 1-4, you can begin to truly understand the true cost and profitability of all journeys, to know which channels are working well and which need further optimisation.

You can now focus on retaining the right customers by creating a marketing strategy that moves customers into the most profitable bands, applying your understanding of customer engagement, channel preference and stage in journey to tailor messages to an individual customer’s need.

What results can you expect to see from this approach?

This approach to optimisation typically delivers the following results:

  • 13%-16% saving on digital marketing spend
  • 14% increase in conversion from Abandoned Baskets remarketing 
  • Saving of 1-2p per click on social and paid search with improved quality scores
  • 2-5% more emails landed in inboxes with improved sender reputation
  • Save 10% on social, dm and display ad by selecting most engaged customers for campaigns

How can you achieve all the above?

Simply email discover how Digital Playback can solve your attribution headache and optimise your conversion rates.

Digital Playback is our unique attribution platform, that enables you to optimise your conversion rates and marketing spend by clustering every interaction an individual makes, across all channels and devices, in one journey.

Check out our webinar

Nick Greatrex, Digital Director at Go Inspire Insight, shares his thoughts on improving conversion by solving the digital marketing attribution headache, check out the webinar here [17min to view].

How is image recognition software transforming the customer experience?

Across the world, the image recognition market is expected to reach $38.9 billion by 2021. Clearly, this technology is growing in use and demand — but why? 

Many industries differ with regard to how they use new tech products, and the same applies to image recognition software. From improving the customer experience to streamlining operational procedures, Precision Printing — a specialist personalised wallpaper — explores how the software works and why it could enhance business…

What is image recognition technology?

Essentially, this technology is designed to retrieve, process, examine, and interpret pictures, photos and high-dimensional data. It takes this from the ‘real world’ and produces useful information in multiple formats. This could be anything from uploading a photo of a group of friends to Facebook that automatically tags each person to their accounts, to taking a digital fingerprint scan in order to determine a person’s identity. 

Partly because 80% of the content online is visual, image recognition technology is rapidly growing and is becoming more and more adept at mimicking human vision and understanding. 

How is it transforming customer engagement and business processes? 

Generally, image recognition software is benefitting industries across the board. Many companies now have a digital presence, whether on social media or via an online store. A major advantage of this technology is that it can offer real-time insights into consumer behaviour — but not only your consumers. Visual analytics will allow you to monitor the consumer behaviour of your competitors, which will allow you to address their concerns within your own campaigns and potentially attract them to your brand instead.

Keeping an eye on your online competitors is essential — but tricky. With image recognition software, you can now find similar content to what your brand is putting out on social media and track down social mentions of your company — no more manual, time-consuming searches. Not only will this help you monitor the competition in your industry, but it will also allow you to be more responsive to marketing opportunities that would otherwise have been missed and pick up on trends that may be flying under the radar. 

Many brands are opting to launch apps — not a surprise considering that it’s predicted that global gross app revenue will hit $102 billion by 2020. Clearly, there is money to be made and customers to be won with apps, but how does image recognition assist? This technology can help brands boost engagement levels with their consumers, letting them extend beyond the standard boundaries of online and offline and making the app more immersive. As a result, promotional material and discount offers should be able to pack a greater punch and potentially offer a greater ROI. 

How image recognition affects individual industries 

This technology offers opportunities for all brands and sector — but which in particular are already seeing benefits? 


Image recognition promises to play a major role in the fashion industry. Firstly, a consumer, when leafing through a magazine, can use image recognition software on their mobile devices to scan a product they’re interested in and land straight onto its product page or relevant online marketing content, which could increase the chances of a conversion. Similarly, consumers can upload images of clothes they like and shop online for similar or complementary products — streamlining the shopping experience. 

From a brand perspective, image recognition makes picking up on trends much easier and quicker — due to the rapid evolution of trends in this sector, this could prove invaluable. 


The automotive industry is also benefitting from image recognition technology. Self-driving vehicles are an emerging market and they’re being developed with the assistance of image recognition. To ensure that self-driving cars are safe, they need to be able to detect hazards immediately and make informed decisions regarding their next action to avoid causalities. That’s where image recognition comes in. With this technology, self-drive car sensors will be able to spot dangers on the road in the same way as a human motorist does, reacting in a way that should avoid crashes and accidents. 

Although we’re still a while away from having motorways full of self-driving vehicles, image recognition is certainly already playing a part in the automotive industry and will help some brands in the sector capitalise on a trend that may be huge in the future. 


Image recognition software is also a useful tool for healthcare professionals. The technology is currently being used to help process the huge numbers of medical images that need verifying and checking in the sector. As a result, doctors can diagnose conditions and diseases at faster rates and with great accuracy, meaning less stress for the patient and easing the pressure on the doctor when it comes to arranging the best course of action.   

Image recognition is a growing technology that looks set to benefit companies on many levels. Are you clued up on how it can help your business in 2018? 


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Hyper everything: How tech integration is changing customer communication

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

A raft of new technologies, many of which are easily integrated into existing channels, are changing the way organisations communicate with their customers. 

Chatbots, voice integration, and dynamic (hyper-personalised) content, amongst others are at the forefront of this evolution. But organisations cannot simply implement these technologies and expect dramatic improvements in their customer communication efforts. 

Instead, they have to ensure that any new technologies are utilised in line with the broader goals of customer communication; that is, making communication as valuable to the customer as possible.   

AI and meeting customer needs

With any form of customer communication, the aim should always be to move with the customer through their stages of life and offer the customer appropriate services at each stage. 

So, for example, in the insurance world, a customer may start with renter’s insurance as a single person and move to homeowner’s insurance, car insurance and life insurance as their personal circumstances change. 

Here, artificial intelligence (AI) has an important role to play. In the customer communication space especially, AI-based systems are useful for predicting user behaviour and providing content based on that prediction to prompt the user’s next action.

Organisations are already seeing the value AI provides in this regard, integrating it into email, billing, and mobile payments, all of which contain forms of customer communication. 

AI is also driving the use of chatbots, which appear on websites and instant messaging services, as automated virtual assistants.  

Not only are chatbots useful for customer service,  but also for invoicing and payment collections.  

The rise of voice 

But good customer communication isn’t just about baking new technologies into existing channels. It also means embracing the technologies your customers are actually using. 

One example of this is voice recognition.  

By 2020, Gartner predicts that 30% of web browsing will occur without a screen. And 55% of American teenagers will use speech recognition, daily. 

It’s only natural, therefore, that customers will want to interact with organisations via voice. Any organisation that invests in integrating voice technology into its customer communications now stands to give itself that extra edge over its competitors.    

Micro-segmentation and hyper-personalisation 

If an organisation is going to integrate these technologies successfully, it needs to ensure that it couples them with real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product and service information to each user. 

The more information an organisation has on each customer, the more meaningful and valuable its communication will be. 

Broadly referred to as hyper-personalisation and micro-segmentation, this use of data means being able to provide content that is relevant on the day / month / life stage of that customer. It allows the company to provide information that improves the customer experience due to the very personal nature of the content. 

Moreover, hyper-personalisation is proven to build loyalty and trust, that ultimately makes customers more profitable. 

A dual approach

Putting the customer back in the centre of customer communication requires more than technology alone. Like the human-centred design approach (putting the customer at the core of the product design process), communication design should be too.

Asking customers directly what content they want to receive, when and how, is invaluable to the design process. This dual approach enables the organisation to combine preference and engagement data (technology), with input obtained directly from the people best suited to design the process: customers and employees (humans). 

By taking this integrated approach, organisations can ensure that they provide customers with the kind of communication they need and want. 

About the author – Michael Wright launched Striata in 1999.  A Chartered Accountant by profession, he started his career at PwC where he was responsible for Internet Strategy & Services and Business Information Services. The technology bug having firmly bit, he moved to VWV Interactive as Managing Director before founding Striata. He was the founder of the South African chapter of First Tuesday, the “Global Thought Leadership Network”. As Striata’s CEO, Wright is responsible for the company’s vision, mission and the business’ global expansion

Hyper everything: how tech integration is changing customer communication 

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

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