Why VARs Need to Be Concerned with Personalization Trends in Retail


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Anyone who subscribes to a retail-focused publication is keenly aware personalization is top-of- mind with retailers, or, should be.

Why? Customers are demanding it. Plain and simple. In fact, 54% of customers will end loyalty to a store that doesn’t send them personalized offers.

But personalization isn’t as simple as a retailer sending out an email that has the customer’s correct name. In today’s retail environment, personalization is truly knowing a customer – and customers expect retailers to know them.

According to a 2016 report by Accenture, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

It stands to reason that if retailers want to keep their customers, they’re going to have to get to know them – and their shopping patterns – better. What does this have to do with VARs?

Everything.

64% of retailers see personalization as a top-three priority within their business strategies

There exists today a chasm between e-commerce and brick and mortar – and VARs are well positioned to close that gap.

After all, the more retail leadership looks to make headway in addressing customer wants, the more they will turn to their service providers. VARs can solidify their position as trusted partners in a traditionally hardware-focused market by incorporating software solutions into their sales playbooks. They can also approach their customer from an advisory standpoint:

  • Present information on shifts in consumer trends (i.e. demand for personalization)
  • Discuss how retailers will be impacted by those shifts (i.e. loss of customers, impact on brand)
  • Suggest methods of addressing the challenges from a solution point-of-view versus a hardware point-of view. (i.e. Customers are willing to opt-in in return for offers that resonate.)

63% of customers are annoyed at old-fashioned strategy of generic offers.

From there, a VAR can introduce retail bundles that focus on personalization and digital coupon solutions in addition to POS, scanning, and WLAN hardware. This holistic solution approach not only provides the retail customer with the tools they need to better connect with their customers, it also provides the VAR a tremendous revenue opportunity.

It’s not just a one-time revenue opportunity, either. Most software applications fees are based on a monthly/yearly license agreement. Instead of selling in hardware once and going back every year or so to try an upgrade approach, VARs can now bundle hardware and software solutions, benefitting from the one-time lift of the hardware sale and then having a steady, recurring revenue stream.

There is no shortage of solutions, either. Which may be why VARs default to what they know – hardware. Unfortunately, the market isn’t going to continue to support that model. A study by Accenture shows retail investment in cloud technologies is up from USD4 billion in 2011 to USD15 million in 2017. The reason for the investment? Personalization.

The cloud allows for collection, storage and analysis of mass amounts of customer interaction data – data that can be used to understand customer intent, purchase, habits, preferences and response rate. All of this data is used to create more personalized experiences and make the most of marketing dollars. After all, personalization delivers up to 8 times ROI on marketing spend.

How can a VAR not used to retail solution selling succeed? Where can they go to learn more about what hardware to tie with what SaaS solution? A good place to start is with their distributor. Distributors are getting better at creating bundles and solutions-in-a-box to make it easier for VARs to serve their customers. They also offer resources, sales training and events that can help introduce VARs to the solution developers, so they get first-hand knowledge on how best to make the sale.

Customers aren’t going to slow down their demand for a personalized experience. With only 22% of customers satisfied with the level of personalization they receive, now is the time for VARs to step in, advise and serve their retail customers with personalization solutions. It’s an opportunity they cannot afford to wait on.

 

About the Author:

Kimberly Miller is a marcom professional with a not-quite mundane past and a storied future. She is also the Director of Marketing for Cozumo, Inc.

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