Only one-third of online retailers that gather data reflecting customers' preferences and get permission to send targeted push notifications actually make use of that opportunity, according to a study of the UK's top fifty online retailers by Teradata's Marketing Applications division. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

With 96% of the top 50 online retailers in the UK having an app, the research suggests they are not using mobile communications effectively to engage customers, despite 44% sending in-app notifications.

The study found that most retailers are not sending insight-driven personalised communications, nor incentivising customers to make a purchase. Only 31% of the apps analysed were using any form of personalisation in their messages, with just 13% using customers' names when sending messages. Despite this, 67% of online retailers are recognising the importance of geographical targeting by asking for a customer's location.

Further, the study found that most online retailers in the UK are not incentivising customers to make a purchase through in-app communications. Less than half (44%) welcomed new customers to their app with an offer and of those in the top 50 that have retail stores, only half encouraged app users to visit. In addition, none of the apps sent "abandoned cart" push notifications to alert customers to incomplete transactions, which suggests retailers are missing out on both in-store and in-app sales opportunities.

When comparing these new findings with Teradata's previous research into consumer email campaigns from the same online retailers, a similar pattern emerges, with only 28% of emails being personalised by demographic information. However, online retailers are starting to recognise the importance of mobile optimisation, as 75% of UK retailers queried reported they optimise their emails for mobile platforms.

"It's imperative that retailers recognise the opportunities app communications provide, not only for increasing sales, but for increasing brand loyalty and improving customer experience," said Jon Williams, Country Manager (UK & Ireland) for Teradata Marketing Applications. "Currently, retailers are not engaging their customers across multiple digital channels. Our research into both emails and app messages shows they are failing to truly join the dots across their communications technology to serve customers effectively. It's time for personalisation to be at the core of customer communications, and retailers must use push notifications more effectively to influence purchasing decisions."