9 Examples of Personalization to Try in Your Retail Store

The concept of personalization isn’t new, yet it seems that many retailers still miss the mark when it comes tailoring the shopping experiences of their customers. A survey by Infosys found that 31% of consumers “wish their shopping experience was more personalized that it currently is.” Not only that, but 20% said that they “have never experienced any kind of personalized offers / promotions based on previous purchases, while 19% have never experienced product recommendations based on previous purchases.”

If you’re currently struggling with your personalization efforts, fret not. I’ve compiled 9 excellent examples of retail personalization done right. Check them out and use them as inspiration in your own business.

1. Chanel sends personalized, handwritten notes

Great retail personalization doesn’t always have to include fancy technology. In many cases, a thoughtful gesture is more than enough to strike a personal connection with your customers.

Case in point: Chanel. A few weeks after purchasing a pair of shoes from their boutique, I received a handwritten note from the associate who assisted me. In it, she thanked me for shopping with her and mentioned how she enjoyed helping me find the perfect fit. She closed by saying that I could call or text if I needed anything else.

See if you can do something similar in your store. Identify your best customers and send them a sincere and thoughtful note — preferably the old-fashioned way. I guarantee that the effort will not go unnoticed.

2. Nordstrom “remembers” the sizes of their customers

This next one does include a bit of tech, but if you have a lot of repeat customers, the effort will be worth it. In this example, Nordstrom.com remembered my size based on my previous shopping behavior.

As you can see in the screenshot below, Nordstrom pre-selected the size “Small” on the product page, stating that I often choose that size.

Depending on your ecommerce platform, this level of personalization may be feasible for your store, so explore your options.

You can also implement a similar effort in-store using a CRM that allows you to create customer profiles. That way, if a repeat shopper walks in, you and your associates can assist them better using the information you’ve gathered from them.

Vend Tip

Did you know that Vend has some nifty customer management features to help you grow your customer database? With Vend, you can add new customers directly at the point of sale, create customer profiles, and even import existing lists into the system.

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3. Sephora makes relevant product recommendation based on previous purchases

Do you personalize your customer emails? And no, I’m not just referring to adding someone’s name in the message. I’m talking about tailoring each email’s content based on the recipient’s purchase history.

If you’re not doing this yet, then let this example from Sephora inspire you.

In this email, Sephora sent product suggestions based on my recent purchase. What’s notable about their effort is that Sephora told me that they used my purchase history to make their recommendations. 

Keep this example in mind the next time you’re using someone’s information and purchase history. Let the shopper know why and how you’re personalizing their experience, to turn down the “creep factor” in your efforts. 

4. Pottermore tailors content based on each user’s Hogwarts house

If you segment customers into particular groups, then take the opportunity to send tailored content to each segment.

Have a look at what Pottermore is doing. In 2017, the site sent out holiday greetings to their members. But instead of a generic, one-size-fits-all email, Pottermore created different holiday emails for each Hogwarts house (i.e., Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin.)

5. Aesop gets to know shoppers and curates products based on their needs

My visit to the Aesop store in Silver Lake, CA, was one of my favorite retail experiences of 2018. Here’s why:

Upon walking into the store, a sales associate approached me and asked if I needed help with anything. I told her that I was switching skincare brands and wanted to give Aesop a try. From there, she started asking questions about my skin type and habits and used my answers to curate products to test in-store. The whole experience made it easy for me to decide on which items to buy and testing them gave me confidence in my purchase decision.

Then when it was time to ring up the sale, the associate asked me for my details so she could create a profile for future purchases.

This is one of the best examples of in-store personalization, and the great thing about it is that Aesop’s practices aren’t difficult to emulate. The key lies in having sales associates who know how to listen and genuinely want to help shoppers find what they need.

Oh, and having a POS that lets you collect customer information also helps, of course!

6 – 7. Retailers that let customers “build” products

Product personalization is a great offering, particularly if you cater to younger consumers who value individuality.

If you have the opportunity to do so, give your shoppers the ability to create their own products. Consider Dresden, a retailer that produces upcycled eyeglasses and sunglasses made from plastic waste and discarded fishing nets, then sells them at affordable rates.

In addition to selling great products, Dresden also offers an interesting in-store experience. Unlike other eyewear retailers that sell ready-made merchandise on their shelves, Dresden lets shoppers create their own pair of eyeglasses or sunglasses.

Starting from just $49, customers can get lenses and frames made up as they wait. They can choose their frame styles and color combinations, which means they can get a pair that’s crafted just for them.

Another great example comes from Covet, a jewelry store in San Francisco that has a jewelry bar, where shoppers can create their own pieces on the spot.

8. Levi’s Tailor Shop

You may not be able to let shoppers build products, but that doesn’t mean you can’t inject a bit of personalization into their experience. Consider Levi’s which runs “Tailor Shops” in select locations. In addition to repairs and tailoring services, these shops let people customize their Levi’s apparel through stenciling, monograms, embroidery, distressing, and more.

See if you can take a leaf out of Levi’s playbook. Cook up ways to let shoppers add their personal touch to items that they’ve purchased from you. Can they embed their initials? Stick on a special logo? See what’s possible and test new initiatives in your stores.

9. Enfagrow implements timing personalization

You can also send tailored messages using the right timing strategies. And the good news is if you’re already collecting information about your customers’ purchase histories, then implementing timing-based personalization is easier than you think.

What you can do is anticipate your customers’ needs based on their age or the date of their previous purchase.

One company that does this well is Enfagrow. When moms and moms-to-be sign up for the brand’s mailing list, Enfagrow collects information about their due date or the age of their baby. The company then uses that information to send highly relevant emails depending on how old the child is.

Check out the example below. This email was sent to me when my child was around 21 months. Enfagrow packed the email with tips on dealing with toddlers as well as relevant product recommendations.

Personalization isn’t optional — it’s a must

Modern consumers expect retailers to customize their efforts based their needs, and many shoppers are willing to fork up their data in exchange for personalized experiences.

The good news? As you may have gathered from this post, there are many ways to implement personalization. No matter what you sell or where your stores are located, I’m willing to bet that there’s room for more personalization in your strategy for 2019 and beyond.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Vend’s guide to increasing sales. This handy resource offers 10 proven tactics for boosting retail sales and improving your bottom line.

Specifically, you will:

  • Discover how to turn savvy shoppers into loyal customers
  • Learn how to add real and perceived value to each sale
  • Discover the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors

    Learn More

Your turn

Do you implement personalization in your retail business? Tell us all about your efforts! Send an email to francesca [at] vendhq [dot] com to let us know. 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.