5 Tips for Retail Brands Trying to Get More Personal With Their Customers

Because so few of them are doing it right

Ultimately, personalization is about making life less painful for customers.
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Every retail brand is trying to get more personal with its customers, but very few are doing it right. Here are five ways to win at the personalization game.

1. Collect good data

Retailers need to collect both user-level data—like site traffic, shopping cart abandonment and basic analytics—as well as customer-specific data, such as shopping history, sizes and preferences. They also need to pay attention to the right product attributes, says Jeriad Zoghby, Accenture Interactive’s global lead for personalization.

“Every company has to do a better job of listening,” he says. “They need to stop worrying about which shirts I buy, and start paying attention to the features, the size, the fit, the color.

2. Be data led, not data driven

It’s easy to cherry pick data to justify a brand’s strategy, says Forrester principal analyst Brendan Witcher. Smart organizations look at the data first and then decide what to do.

“Any organization can find data to support a strategy they already have,” he says. “Organizations need to dive in, look at the data, and see what it’s telling them to do before they make any assumptions about what they need to do.”

3. Follow the golden rule

If brands want customers to trust them, they need to be explicit about their data collection and the benefits this will bring. Otherwise they risk alienating or creeping out their customers.

“The golden rule to avoiding the creep factor is that, when you’re collecting data, be overt about it,” says Witcher. “Make it clear to the customer about the value proposition you’re going to offer them. When Amazon bought Whole Foods, it told customers that if they used their Prime membership in the store, they’d get a discount. They were collecting data, but being overt.”

4. Move fast

Expectations for response times are shorter than ever, especially among millennials. According to a 2017 survey by customer data platform Segment, more than half of all consumers expect to receive a relevant discount or product recommendation within 24 hours after identifying themselves to a brand. Nearly a third expect the discount or recommendation within one hour.

When brands do personalization right, it pays off. Nearly 50 percent of shoppers (and 63 percent of millennials) say they’re more likely to make an impulse purchase after receiving a relevant recommendation.

5. Focus on your customers’ biggest pain points and fix them

Ultimately, personalization is about making life less painful for customers. That’s where brand efforts need to focus.

“Last year everyone was talking about the Amazon Go store, where nobody has to wait in a checkout line,” says Witcher. “The reason that was such a big story wasn’t because of the technology, it was because nobody has ever walked into a store and said, ‘I hope I stand in line for as long as possible.’ Truly understanding your customers’ pain points and trying to solve them through personalization is the big win.”


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This story first appeared in the Jan. 29, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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