Personalization: Are Retailers Hitting the Mark?

By Amanda Nadile - March 19, 2019

The retail industry has been zeroed in on personalization for many years now. It makes sense. Personalization leads to long-term, profitable relationships – increased sales, increased engagement and increased loyalty are all benefits of creating relevant and engaging customer shopping experiences.

Personalization is also what shoppers want. According to a survey from retail consulting firm BRP, over three fourths (79 percent) of shoppers say, “the ability to get personalized service from a store associate is a significant factor in helping them decide where to shop.” Additionally, Accenture and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) found 63 percent of consumers are interested in personalized recommendations – up from 57 percent two years ago.

Even though brands are enhancing their personalization strategies year-over-year, there’s still a lot of work to do. In an interview with Total Retail at Shoptalk 2019 in Las Vegas, Forrester Analyst Brendan Witcher said brands either “aren’t doing it right” or “aren’t doing enough.”

The results in the “Personalization & Engagement” section of our 2018-2019 Omnichannel Leadership Report find this to be true. This section of our research looks at how brands leverage data and mobile technology to create personalized shopping experiences.

Here are some of the highlights.


60% of brands provide their store associates with mobile devices in-store

13% of store associates can contact a customer outside the store through mobile

The importance of mobile is not lost on most retailers. Mobility is a big focus for retailers in 2019, particularly its role in the in-store customer experience. For this reason, 60 percent of brands provide their store associates with mobile devices, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. With mobile devices at their disposal, associates have visibility into customer, transaction and inventory data. These are the pillars of successful omnichannel retailing, after all. They make it possible for associates to deliver truly seamless experiences.

Despite their access to smartphones, most store associates are relegated to the four walls of the physical shop. At a time when shoppers expect personalized services, this is a significant limitation. Think of how much you could increase customer lifetime value (CLV) if you’re able to reach, engage and transact with customers while they’re on the go? In today’s on-demand economy, personalization means anytime, anywhere service.


68% of store associates can’t see omnichannel purchase history via mobile

93% of store associates can’t see a customer’s wish list

NewStore CEO Stephan Schambach said it best in an article in WWD: “…it would be completely remiss to only focus on mobile as it relates to customers. Yes, the customer needs to be at the core, but store associates are your secret weapons.”

These sentiments were echoed at Shoptalk by several speakers, including Lowe’s CMO, Jocelyn Wong and Crate and Barrel CEO, Neela Montgomery. Store associates are critically important to customer perceived value. However, brands are grossly underutilizing their greatest assets. Only 32 percent can see omnichannel purchase history from a mobile device, and even fewer (7 percent) can see a customer’s online wish list in-store.

Retail brands need to offer a friction-free, seamless store experience to achieve omnichannnel success. This starts with being able to break down the barriers between channels. Customers don’t see channels. They see one brand and they expect personalized touch points along their individual paths to purchase.

Industry Leaders

The industry scored a 34/100 in the Personalization & Engagement portion of our research, but there are several top performers in this category.

To see who they are and to learn what they’re doing right, download our report today.