A New Predictive Tool Helps Retailers Keep Up With Rapidly Changing Consumer Behaviors

Consumer behavior trends can inform a company’s marketing and customer outreach, but many brands may be struggling to keep up with their customers, particularly in today’s unfamiliar retail environment.

Personalization platform SmarterHQ is addressing this need with its new Smarter Predictions function, which uses AI to help predict customer activity.

With some brands developing their store reopening strategies and others shuttering their doors permanently, shoppers are dealing with a new retail landscape. Further complicating matters is the financial impact of the pandemic, as well as changes to the way people are shopping. This all makes it harder for retailers to market their products effectively.

The Smarter Predictions tool, which launched today, looks at customer activity across all retail channels and builds a comprehensive picture of each shopper. This includes both browsing and purchasing activity. The function then uses machine learning to review all collected data and predict future behaviors, such as an inclination to buy or to disengage from the brand.

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“We have found that in-store shoppers take longer between repeat purchases than website or mobile app shoppers, said Michael Osborne, president and CEO at SmarterHQ. “Smarter Predictions takes into account the nuances that occur in each channel and between each shopper to accurately determine when someone is actually disengaging from your brand.”

Comprehensive insight is particularly valuable right now, when circumstances have instigated changes in behavior that don’t follow usual trends. For instance, during the COVID-19 lockdown shoppers began adopting digital channels that previously may have been unfamiliar, thus generating a new set of data. Predictive tools can compare this against previous activity.

Screenshot of SmarterHQ powered marketing campaign
The SmarterHQ platform powers brand marketing campaigns and customer outreach.
CREDIT: Courtesy of SmarterHQ

The closure of physical stores has also halted many interactions between customers and retailers, though that doesn’t necessarily reflect a permanent shift away from the brand, said Osborne. Retailers will need to distinguish between groups to see which shoppers will return in-store and which may need some encouragement.

But Osborne recommends that companies stay mindful of the factors that may have decreased engagement, such as financial limitations. This group may return in the future, so sensitivity and a light touch is encouraged. However, a recent SmarterHQ survey suggests that this is a small proportion of customers — only 13% of shoppers reported no intention of shopping for non-essentials at all.

“Focus on those who are actively shopping,” said Osborne. “Turn up the volume on behavioral messages based on site or in-store activity. Use Smarter Predictions to identify those people who have disengaged from your brand in the last couple months by turning down the frequency of communications so that you don’t risk the unsubscribe or opt-outs.”

SmarterHQ reports that Smarter Predictions campaigns see a 40% open rate and 13% conversion rate, increasing browse campaign revenue by 33%. In addition to detecting consumer activity, the tool can analyse popular products or product combinations that are driving the most overall revenue, which marketers can use to inform promotions and recommendations.

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