Why assembling the right technical team should form an integral part of retail personalisation strategies

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Why assembling the right technical team should form an integral part of retail personalisation strategies.

As personalisation becomes an increasingly important part of running a retail business, Cyril Samovskiy, Founder of Mobilunity, asks ‘does your tech team have what it takes to get the most out of personalisation efforts?’

Despite 2023 proving to be a turbulent year for retailers, 2024 is already showing glimmers of hope. In fact, Deloitte’s Consumer Signals platform – which tracks the sentiment of tens of thousands of shoppers across the globe – showed a decline in concern about inflation and an increase in spending intention in January this year.

With this newfound optimism and huge advances in technology ready and waiting to help retailers reduce costs, improve productivity and enhance the customer experience, now is the time to strategise and capitalise on the opportunities on the table.

While there are a host of avenues to explore - from the continued growth of e-commerce and mobile-commerce, to omnichannel integration and even virtual and augmented reality technologies - one particular tech-driven opportunity proving to be a real differentiator among retailers right now is personalisation. 

By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), savvy retailers are strategically using, storing, processing and analysing data to deliver tailored experiences that resonate with their customers’ individual preferences and behaviours. 

Opening the door to everything from personalised product recommendations and marketing communications, to customised shopping experiences, dynamic pricing strategies and loyalty programmes, the concept of data-driven decision-making holds a lot of potential, but it’s not without its challenges. 

How to ensure your data management team is up to scratch

The task of not just managing, but securely managing, vast data volumes calls for a specialised team of professionals with a fusion of skills.

To allow ML and AI models to thrive, expertise in data management, micro-segmentation, data governance, data security, and compliance, alongside skills in user experience (UX) design, and quality assurance are all key. But the team must also be well-coordinated, well-orchestrated, collaborative and adaptable to future trends. 

For those keen to really drive personalisation efforts to new heights, assembling the right technical team is mission-critical. However, recent research carried out by Mobilunity on 500+ UK businesses suggests that poor recruitment practices are impacting employers’ ability to sniff out the right skills for the right role when it comes to technical hires, recommending the following be taken into account when building a tech team: 

  • Ensure the technical interviewing process differs from non-technical one on purpose. Without proper technical interviewing, retailers risk increased costs in the long run (if the wrong person is hired for the job) and substantial financial losses due to project delays
  • Make sure a technical specialist assesses candidates for the skills they will be using in the role they’re applying to
  • The whole interview cycle process for one candidate should ideally last no more than 2 weeks; any longer and you risk jeopardising winning the candidates your business needs
  • If your existing team lacks the time or capacity to run the process the way you wish, utilise external technical recruitment services, ensuring technical interviews form part of the offering
  • Ensure thorough and thoughtful onboarding procedures for new team members to effectively acclimate tech professionals to the retail environment
  • Offer continuous learning opportunities as part of the onboarding process to keep tech hires up-to-date with evolving retail technology
  • Continuously evaluate team performance. This is essential for identifying skills gaps, assessing the impact of tech solutions on customer satisfaction and business profitability, and ensuring alignment with industry innovation
  • Designate individuals within the tech team to ensure seamless functioning of critical processes

Cybersecurity measures and compliance standards

Ensuring your technical team is well-versed in cybersecurity measures and compliance standards, is also vital to mitigate the risks associated with personalised retail services. Here, I always recommend a combination of two key approaches:

  • Leverage external expertise: Hiring cybersecurity consultants or firms to assess the company’s needs, identify vulnerabilities, and recommend security measures is a great option, especially if a business lacks internal knowledge or experience of cybersecurity. These external experts bring extensive experience and industry best practices knowledge, offering tailored solutions without the need for extensive internal development. Look for individuals or firms with a track record of delivering clear, actionable advice that can be easily implemented within the organisation.
  • Invest in internal skill development and Learning & Development (L&D): As well as offering continuous learning opportunities around evolving retail technology as part of the onboarding process, I always recommend integrating cybersecurity training into the company’s L&D programmes too. Aligning the L&D process with industry standards ensures teams meet compliance requirements, positioning the company as a cybersecurity leader and fostering trust among customers and partners.

The potential for technological advancements to revolutionise personalised customer experiences is clear - but with a host of accompanying challenges, unlocking this potential without a skilled and well-coordinated team is impossible. 

But for those willing to invest in the right talent and foster a culture of continuous learning, their journey in the competitive landscape of personalised retail services is set to be that much smoother; ready to reap the benefits of improved customer experiences, increased sales and revenue, greater customer engagement and loyalty, and a real competitive edge in the market.

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