In recent years, customers have become more comfortable with exchanging personal information as long as it benefits them and is being used in a responsible manner. This begs the question: how are you utilizing the personal information that your customers are entrusting you with?

Retail personalization thrives off of the responsible use of customers’ personal information. Taking down names, ages, locations, and more can all contribute to the perfectly pieced together customer experience, but where does your brand begin? Let’s delve into our ultimate guide to retail personalization to get your started.

What is Retail Personalization?

Retail personalization is the use of customers’ search and purchase history to create and optimize personal interactions. This practice uses data to deliver a personalized customer experience that drives conversions, boosts engagement, and increases AOV. When done well, retail personalization can lead to a smoother and more tailored user experience that can help brands lift their key metrics and cultivate customer loyalty.

Why You Should Make Retail Personalization a Priority

According to Accenture, 75 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, suggests products based on previous searches, or has knowledge of their past purchases. That number is only going to grow, which means that you have to make retail personalization a priority if you want to keep up with other brands.

Retail personalization has now become a brand imperative as the Amazon effect rages on and in-store revenues decline. By using customer data to provide relevant recommendations and display content that is more likely to resonate, this method help you connect directly with your shoppers—ultimately building the loyalty that will insulate your brand in competitive times.

Challenges of Retail Personalization

In order to find success with retail personalization, however, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of some common hurdles in advance so that you can plan ahead. One frequent mistake for brands early in their personalization journey is timidity: while it may seem safer to dabble before committing, a brand’s reluctance to experiment with impactful changes in prominent locations (such as the homepage) will only reduce your insights and results. Starting with meaningful experiments and experiences will help your team learn more about your customers early on which will guide your future efforts.

However, giving your customer experience a full makeover isn’t going to happen overnight. Personalized marketing is an iterative process that requires careful strategic planning, coordinated execution, and ample time for analysis of the results so that they can be applied to future efforts. To get the best results, teams should make sure they are focused on the long game (learning more about their audience and connecting better with their customers over time) rather than boosting short-term metrics as the only criterion for success. The good news is that a customer relationship-focused stance is its own reward: your brand will likely see better revenue in the long run from this approach.

Stepping Stones for Implementing a Retail Personalization Strategy

There is no right or wrong way to carry out a retail personalization strategy, but there are surely a few steps you can take to guide your brand in the right direction. Here are a few stepping stones to get you started:

  • Find Your Customers – Understanding which parts of your website attract the most customers, or how often they’re setting foot in your brick-and-mortar stores, is crucial. Once you know what your customers gravitate towards, you’ll be able to begin building a truly personal experience for them.
  • Identify Your First Move – Next, think of how you would like to personalize your retail experience. Would you like to start at the beginning of their ecommerce interaction and optimize your homepage? Or, would you prefer to personalize a special discount in order to drive customers to your stores? Knowing your next move isn’t always easy, but look into what the data is saying and make changes based on these results. Showing up in places where you are needed is huge, as sometimes personalization can be viewed as too pervasive.
  • Find Your Channels – Outline the channels you’d like to focus on and stick with them. If you want to keep your retail personalization strategy consistent across channels, you’ll have to put the same level of effort into each one so that not leg of your plan falls short. For instance, if you’ve decided to focus on mobile in conjunction with your email and social presence, devise a plan that you’ll be able to evolve with all at once.
  • Select a Solution – After you’ve found your customers and know where you’d like to begin personalizing, look into a personalization engine to see if it would be the right fit for you. A personalization engine can help you analyze tons of data points so that you can make the most intelligent decisions possible for your customer base. Whether you’d like to focus on product recommendations, dynamic content, or another facet that interests you, a personalization strategy can help you connect the dots.
  • Measurement – Lastly, never lose sight of who your customer is and the goals you are trying to reach. You could have every component of the perfect retail personalization strategy but if you’re not paying attention to your customers’ individual needs, you won’t reach your full potential. And if you’re focusing on the wrong metrics, you won’t meet your goals. Identify the long-term metrics that are most important to you and stick with them.

Examples of Retail Personalization

Another great way to understand retail personalization is to see it in action. Let’s take a closer look at a few examples of how to apply retail personalization:

Destination XL Listened to Their Customers

Men’s big and tall apparel retailer Destination XL knew that sizing is everything when it comes to catering to their customers. To fit the unique needs of each individual user, Destination XL created a size profile feature on their website. This way, customers could fill out a one-time profile so that they are only viewing products available in their size.

Not only did the Destination XL size profile cut out the frustrations of not being able to find clothing in a particular size, it also boosted conversions for the brand. By placing strategic lightboxes—with the help of Monetate—that alert customers to fill out a sizing profile, they were able to spur growth in key metrics.

True Religion Learned How to Reel In Customers

Denim retailer True Religion knew that one of the best ways to get customers into their stores was to send emails to customers in areas with a high  concentration of their stores. The brand wanted to target these customers and get relevant offers into their inboxes, but they weren’t quite sure where to start.

To hit their retail personalization goals, True Religion teamed up with Monetate to create dynamic emails to promote in-store events in specific regions. By offering $50 off to customers who had tried on their new line of jeans in store,, True Religion saw 65,000 opened geo-targeted emails, a 2.5 percent click-through rate, and a 1 percent in-store conversion rate.

Frontgate Figured Out Where to Put Their Products

Sometimes knowing where to put your product recommendations can be trickier than meets the eye, and luxury home retailer Frontgate knew this all too well. While Frontgate had their products locked and loaded, ready to be displayed for each individual customer, they were not quite sure what the best placement of the recommendations would be on-site.

After testing out a few options, Frontgate discovered that the optimal location for product recommendations was right at the top of the page. Once they began recommending products at the top of the page, the brand experienced a 10 percent lift in their click-through rate that directly fed into a higher ROI.

Moving the Needle with Retail Personalization

Retail personalization helps move your brand forward. Whether you are looking to optimize your web, mobile, or in-store experience, it is always a good idea to continue the evolution of your strategy. Once things begin to slide into place, you will start to see the personalization results you have always wanted.

To discover more about how to get started with a solution such as the Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine, browse our offerings. Or, if you’d like to speak with an expert, feel free to contact us today.