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    Retail: getting personal

    The importance of true personalization in building long-term retail relationships

    Nowadays, customers share their data more freely than ever: personal profiles, interests, lifestyle choices, and more. In response, retailers routinely use personalization methods to encourage purchasing and to create loyalty for long-lasting relationships. As several research reports show, there’s a lot of value in personalization if retailers can get it right.

    Customers expect a high level of personalization from retailers, but retailers don’t always offer what customers want. Too often, retailers offer personalized experiences to groups of shoppers, while customers want true personalization in exchange for sharing their data. Shoppers increasingly demand valuable experiences and content tailored for them individually. Incidental marketing and promotional activities, or recommendations based on group behavior rather than individual preference, just don’t cut it.


    Providing meaningful, relevant, and unique experiences and content at the right moment is the key to making customers feel excited and appreciated. True personalization, therefore, is a must-have for retailers who want to differentiate their brand and retain their highest-value customers.

    To take customer experience to this next level, retailers must use the data they have to truly understand their customers and offer them benefits all along the way. This is as true in-store as it is online, as both are important touchpoints along the customer journey.


    As far as in-store experiences are concerned, retailers must address the rational and emotional needs of each individual entering a store. Who is the customer and what is her history with the retailer? Why is the customer visiting the store at this particular moment? What is the customer’s mission? How does the customer feel? What is his mindset? What problems is the customer trying to address?


    Real-time customer insights are a precious source for retailers who require a deeper understanding of what their current and potential customers really want. Is a customer lingering to get inspired for an evening meal, or is the customer hurrying in for a click-and-collect after work? Is a customer entering the store for the very first time after previewing an item on line? Is the customer returning to complete a request for service?

    If properly tailored and sufficiently funded, true personalization can go beyond improving the customer journey and meeting customers’ basic expectations: it can be the key to unlocking long-term relationships. Experiences that go beyond simple promotional coupons and instead tap into customers’ personal beliefs, values, and needs make customers feel appreciated, acknowledged, and taken care of. After meaningful, relevant, and delightful experiences, customers will be much more likely to return to the store.


    Retailers can use real-time data not only to digitally connect but to make customers feel special by welcoming them personally when they enter a store, referring to earlier visits or buys, offering personalized advice and service, letting them know you’re there for them, and thanking them for visiting the store. 

    True personalization informed by real-time and historical customer data is about much more than in-store convenience and seamless customer service. It’s about connecting, caring, and keeping in touch. It’s about gaining customer trust, engaging and sharing experiences via communities and personalized experiences, rewarding customers for being loyal, and surprising them with new and unexpected experiences. 

    About the author

    Lilian Marijnissen is an Exploration Designer at Signify Design
    Lilian Marijnissen is an Exploration Designer at Signify Design.

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