Personalization: Not Just for Digital Anymore

Personalization is essential in today’s highly customer-centric marketplace. According to a TimeTrade survey of 100 C-level retail executives, 69% of retail decision makers believe they are using personalization successfully. However, a TimeTrade’s State of Retail 2016 survey revealed that only 26% of customers agree that they their retail experiences feel personalized. Personalization efforts can be a waste of time and money or an effective contribution to brand awareness and increased sales. Understanding personalization and choosing personalization techniques that your target market values can make the difference.

Beyond the mail merge

Inserting customer names into a mail merge for emails is a popular and effective first line method of personalization. But don’t stop there. Without a well-rounded personalization strategy, your mail merge will create more unsubscribes than purchases.

As you may have read in our blog posts Omnichannel Strategy: The Silver Lining on Retail’s Dark Clouds or Merging Clicks and Bricks, balancing in-store and digital marketing strategies is the recipe for success for many thriving retailers. The same holds true for personalization. Every message and every interaction, whether by phone, in-store or online, must use a consistent personalization strategy that works with the holistic brand strategy.

Some retailers use personalization that integrates digital and in-store efforts: the slightly invasive but often helpful “I know where you are” notifications. A drugstore app might send an aspirin coupon as a customer walks down the painkiller aisle. An airline might send a notice about a nearby lounge area when a flight is delayed. But some retailers, like Apple, truly unify the digital and in-store personalization efforts. Apple retail locations are designed around the technology and fixtures that will personalize the experience for the loyal Apple customer. They are greeted personally and directed to the area that will serve them best. They are provided with entertainment that also serves as trial for new products. They can choose to be educated about products or have products repaired. Whatever their need, Apple is designed around meeting those needs in a way that feels personalized and genuine.

Impact on store design

In-store personalization impacts store design. Check out how these retailers integrate their personalization efforts into unique store design elements.

Customers personalize orders on interactive, touchscreen tabletop menus at Ebony, a café in Dubai. They order drinks and meals, select toppings for ice cream sundaes and waffles, play games and read digital content. With these tables, Ebony is not only personalizing but also improving the dining experience (see blog post on experiential marketing).ebony dubai

How does this affect store design? The tables are protected with a special coating to prevent wear and tear. Furniture, fixtures and layout were adjusted to work around the technology and wiring of the tables.


Taranta, a Peruvian-Italian eatery in Boston, uses a personalization technique that appeals to their target
customers’ preference for learning about food over playing games. Taranta uses squid ink to stamp every plate with a QR code. Diners scan the codes to find information about their meals and related topics, including the meal’s sourcing, recipe, and sustainability.

Materials, technology and workspace for creating, designing and executing the squid-ink QR codes must flow with the kitchen layout.

Sales associates and customers gather at Tech Tables at national clothing store Chico’s to get more information about products and fashions. For example, a customer who falls in love with a sweater but cannot imagine what she would wear it with can find suggestions on the Tech Table.

Store design worked around making the Tech Tables the heartbeat of the store and included signage consistent with those efforts.

According to Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade, “Today’s shoppers are more demanding than ever before. To remain successful in this environment, brands must work to better understand consumer demands and reexamine and evolve their approach to ensure that service is prompt, personalized and consistent across channels.” Incorporating personalization into the in-store environment with a strategy consistent with digital personalization techniques creates a recipe for success.





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