There are five trends to watch that are set to shape the near-term future of marketing personalisation and to help the world's smartest retailers create an even better customer experience, according to Ben Rund, senior director of product marketing for Informatica. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

First and foremost, there is the increasingly important issue of the 'informed purchase journey'. A recent Google study found that, on average - and across all categories - shoppers use 10.4 sources of information to make a purchase decision. This includes watching TV ads, looking up manufacturer websites, talking to family and friends, reading reviews, and checking Amazon, among others.

Customers are increasingly visiting websites across multiple devices, and the final location where they make a purchase can be very different from the initial point of interaction. Retailers need to connect the dots between the real-time data available to understand when consumers have enough information to convince them to buy.

The second trend to watch is that store fulfilment and the in-store experience will become a big investment area, and retailers will look to omnichannel solutions that provide transparency when it comes to inventory. This is all in aid of helping to manage customer expectations. For example, the use of digital devices and information panels will gain much more attention and retailers will increasingly use the store as a warehouse or deliver from the nearest store.

Third on the list, retailers and brands are realising there are three key levels of trust, and customer-centric organisations hoping to build trust with their customers are going to need to use a combination of data management and big data analytics. This will greatly improve their ability to acquire, retain and grow their share of the customer's wallet with more personalised marketing designed to build three levels of trust:

  1. Social trust
    By aggregating relevant social data, brands can understand which people are recommending products, how influential they are and what information is being shared. Using these sources they can target trusted people with personalised marketing as part of social media strategies.
  2. Product trust
    Retailers are moving into the age of commerce relevance where personalised offers and precision stock management make all the difference. For better customer service, companies need quicker insights when it comes to making decisions on their assortment, prices and content.
  3. Brand trust
    The brand experience is critically important. Brands and retailers need to be more efficient when creating market ready products, with videos and content that engage customers by capturing emotions.

The fourth trend is that there will need to be a drastic improvement in mobile conversions. Consumers are using mobile devices to search but most online shopping still happens on PCs. With sales from consumers shopping on mobile devices continuing to grow, brands need to concentrate on delivering better and more relevant information that pushes customers toward that vital point of sale on tablets and smartphones.

And finally, there's the question of virtual reality (VR), which may have been on everybody's mind but certainly not in everybody's marketing budget. Virtual Reality is perhaps set to take the customer experience to the next level with leading companies, including Facebook, recently making acquisitions to bolster their offerings in this area. As the momentum behind this technology continues to grow, virtual reality products for consumers will break into the mainstream. This could open up new interactive ways of crafting the customer experience. For example, soon consumers will be able to test drive a car from the comfort of their home, or even replay a sports event in full 360 degree motion on their home TV.