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Personalization for Small Businesses

August 28, 2020
If you’re a small business, making a personalized experience for your customers may seem like a daunting task. But you don’t need to be a conglomerate like Amazon to create an effective personalized experience. In fact, being a small business can actually be an advantage. As a small business, you have the ability to actually know your customers – something a lot of big businesses simply cannot do.  While you may not have the manpower nor the time to dedicate to making an intricately personalized customer experience, there are a number of ways to add that personal touch as a small business. According to Infosys’ study, 86% of consumers say that personalization has some effect on their purchase, while 25% say that it significantly affects what they purchase. So clearly, personalization matters. Let’s have a look at a few strategies to make your customers feel special, and keep them coming back.

In Store Personalization

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed how to get more foot traffic in your retail store – you can read that here. One of the main points we discussed was how the in-store experience must be unique and memorable in order for customers to want to come back to your store. One of the best ways to create a special experience for your customers is to personalize it. It might seem challenging to make an in-store experience personalized, as you can’t rely on stored data and automated marketing tools like you do online, but in-store personalization can actually be the best kind. The first step is to get to know your customers and remember them. Obviously, you may not be able to remember every single one, but depending on the size of your business and the number of customers, it is definitely possible to remember at least your most loyal returning customers. Even if you can’t remember them on your own, there are steps you can take to make sure you remember them.  Encourage your customers to set up customer profiles on your POS to help you and your staff remember them. This is why it’s essential to have a POS that offers customers details, and equally important is customer purchase history. This way, when shoppers become returning customers, you can easily find more information about who they are and what they’ve purchased before, and your sales team can more effectively recommend products based on their information. It also helps if your POS allows for customer notes, or some way to add extra details about your customer.  Part of the personalized experience also comes down to your sales team. It’s important to have staff that genuinely want to help your shoppers, and who are likely to remember returning customers. Customer service has a huge impact on your in-store experience, and if your shopper feels slighted, ignored, or as if they’re an inconvenience in your store, they won’t be back. Get an awesome sales team full of energetic and friendly individuals – they’re hard to find, but once you do, they’ll be the faces of your business. Choose wisely, and treat them well. Encourage your staff to talk with your customers, and don’t shy away from asking them questions. Be transparent about it. To recommend the right product and help them shop, you need to know a little bit more about them. While customers tend to be a little bit hesitant about sharing their information, they’re less likely to mind if sharing their information will make a more convenient shopping experience.  Finally, having a mobile POS is an extremely helpful way to make an experience personalized. If you or your staff are out on the floor, you can quickly lookup a customer with your mobile device to learn their details and past purchases to make an informed product recommendation. With a POS like Oliver POS, which can be used on any device, your staff can open the POS on their own smartphones and look up any customer that walks in.

Online Personalization

Online can be a little bit easier to make a personalized experience. Typically, you can collect more data about your online customers, and use different marketing tools to create a personalized experience. As in person, you should get to know your customers online, too. When online, your sales team isn’t there to recognize the customer and remember all the details, so you have to rely on customers supplying their data. Encourage customers to create an account on your website so you, and your marketing tools, can better keep track of their information.  Make it a fun experience if you can. If you want to collect more customer data while also giving them a personalized experience and accurate product recommendations, design a quiz or a test. This is a fun, interactive way to engage with your customers, and get some useful data to help sell better.  For example, Warby Parker designed this quiz to help customers find their perfect frames. This is fun for shoppers, and also provides you with extremely useful customer data, and provides a level of customer service and personalization that is often lacking from online shopping experiences. 
Now, let’s talk about personalizing emails. If you’re a small business, you can probably personally or manually send out personal emails to your top returning customers. If you have customer reports, to see who spends the most or frequents your store the most consistently, you can create a list of your most loyal customers and write them all an email with personalized messages, and personalized product recommendations based on their previous purchases.  Of course, this may not be efficient or even possible for some of you. An email marketing tool such as HubSpot or Mailchimp can help with creating personalized emails. Most of these tools allow you to schedule emails, implement personalized tokens, and segment your audiences into different groups.  Segmenting your customers into groups, and sending each segment a specific and targeted email can be extremely effective, as well. Even segmenting your customers with something as simple as gender or age group can get great results. You can get more in-depth and segment them based on other more specific metrics, too. For example, if you want to segment them based on purchase history, you could create groups based on the brands they love, and send those customers emails about new products or discounts for the brand they love. Or, follow up with your customers by asking them how they’re enjoying their new products. Email them with other product recommendations, or even remind them to repurchase something. For example, I recently got an email from Sephora reminding me to re-purchase my moisturizer. 
Well, I was running low, and I did repurchase it. You could do something similar – it may seem advanced, but it just takes a little bit of extra attention. Make an educated guess about when your customer might need to repurchase your product and schedule a reminder email the day they purchase something. This may be more effective when used on frequent customers who will be more likely to return.  My final tip for creating a personalized experience for your customers is to have an omnichannel system. This is extremely important when it comes to personalization. This is why it’s essential for your online store to be connected to your in-store POS. This way, your online customers and your in-store customers are all on the same database, and you can gather your customers purchase history and customer details from either platform.  A customer should be able to come into your store, and you should be able to look up their past online purchases. It makes for a smoother customer experience, and it makes your marketing and sales efforts much more effective.

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