When I celebrated my birthday a couple weeks ago, aside from the celebrations with family and friends, I was also really looking forward to seeing what kind of free/discounted swag I would get from the several department stores, restaurants, and shopping websites that have my birthday on file due to subscriptions to loyalty programs and offers. I figured since I use the Starbucks app and frequent the location in my office building on a pretty consistent basis, at the very least, a free double tall soy latte would be in my near future. Or Nordstrom would send me an email with a discount on the beauty products I buy routinely from their stores. Much to my disappointment, all I received was a text message from my dentist saying “Happy Birthday, time for your annual cleaning,” and the email I did receive from Starbucks was sent 6 days before my birthday, and just invited me to use a code to get a non-specific free beverage.
Since I am part of a practice that has a focus on improving the customer experience, I couldn’t help but think how some businesses are missing the mark. In this age of online shopping, consumers truly hold the purchasing power. Online shopping has given consumers a place to purchase anything they want, anytime they want, from the comfort of their home. Many sites like Amazon, Overstock, and ShopBop are going the next level by offering a one-stop shop without having to set foot into a store. But how can these businesses stay one step ahead and differentiate themselves from the rest of the online marketplace? Personalized Marketing.
Just last month, Apple reported their customers have downloaded 50 billion apps since 2008. A study by Internet Retailer 2014 found 80% of the time consumers spend visiting a retail site on mobile is through an app. Not only are businesses tracking our purchases through these apps, but our online purchases are being tracked we click “Add to Shopping Cart.” It is not uncommon for all retailers to offer free shipping, greener shipping, or free returns; to differentiate themselves, retailers should be doing more personalized marketing. As a consumer, I would be more inclined to spend my money if I felt I was receiving a unique product offering from my favorite stores. And it wouldn’t even have to be on my birthday.