Retailers, once dependent on direct-to-consumer sales and brick-and-mortar stores must now build, maintain and monetise an online subscriber base to keep up with their digital competitors consuming their customer base. This isn’t a recent thing – retail was among the first industries to be impacted by digital transformation with the introduction of online marketplaces and fast-fashion ecommerce brands – but there is still no silver bullet for thriving in a digital world.

With a year-on-year decline in sales over the Christmas period, high street retail has dwindled since the dawn of e-commerce. Currently, 87 percent of consumers commence their shopping journey online. While technology was once considered the final nail in the proverbial brick-and-mortar retail coffin, personalisation has been key in propelling the sector to new heights.

Specifically, in-store customer experience fuelled by customer data has given the high street a new lease of life. According to research from Segment, over 44 percent of consumers stated they were most likely to become repeat buyers after a bespoke shopping experience with a retailer. What is more compelling is a further 49 percent say they have purchased an item they did not intend to purchase after receiving a personalised recommendation from a brand. For example, now customers can now go in-store and find out the right makeup foundation for them leveraging technology and brands can utilise the data collected to keep in touch as well as sending tailored content to their inbox.

Integrating technology to create better customer experiences has been the lifeline for the high street. Today, customers have been provided with a level of convenience that has become unprecedented, and have left users feeling more at ease with sharing their data with their favourite brands. This has left retailers with a plethora of new opportunities that could potentially improve their bottom line.

So, what is the next step for in-store personalisation?

Is DNA sharing the answer to the high-streets problems?
With businesses such as Ancestry.com and 23andme enabling users to find out their heritage by utilising their DNA, and consumers’ growing lax stance on data collection, retailers are keen to take customer personalisation to the next level by applying customer DNA to enhance their offering.

Food retailers are one of many verticals looking into DNA sharing to develop bespoke products for users. Now, supermarkets are offering customers a chance to participate by providing DNA samples which is then analysed for key indicators to determine whether the customer may be genetically prone to hypertension, obesity or may be slow to metabolise ingredients such as caffeine, gluten and lactose. The data is then shared via a smartphone app, where customers can use it to scan products in-store to find if it is suitable for them genetically.

Another example of DNA being implemented to enhance personalisation is the beauty industry. Beauty startups have begun to adopt DNA sharing to better understand their customers by deploying in-store kits to test the health of consumer hair and skin. Then, retail advisers can recommend the best products leveraging the data provided in-store.

When used in-conjunction with IoT and AI, many retailers have integrated smart devices such as smart mirrors, which can not only share recommendations based on their preferences and DNA, but continuously track and monitor customers’ skin health. This keeps customers informed of any changes while giving brands key insight for personalisation purposes.

The implications of DNA sharing
While many may feel comfortable in sharing DNA, some are considering the possible implications of applying DNA to personalisation and where it can lead society. This has ultimately left the conscious user uncomfortable, especially with the latest reports on how businesses are using customer data for Machiavellian purposes.

However, with measures being placed for the masses’ benefit such as the GDPR and the UK data protection act (in effect post-Brexit), users have been given tools to ensure their data is truly protected.

The Future of in-store personalisation
Once considered another flailing trend to boost sales for the high-street, in-store personalisation has given high street brands ample opportunity to optimise brick-and-mortar experiences, while aligning it with an online strategy that benefits today’s consumer who are now accustomed to a bespoke experience at a fraction of the price. Now, with the introduction of DNA, this can only further improve the high street’s customer base and ultimately, their profit margins.

Cin-Yee Director of Sales & Marketing EMEA for HiMirror