IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 12 Oct 2015

Personalisation in Retail

Personalisation has been a retail buzzword for a while now, but after reading Retail Week’s in-depth Personalisation Feature, a thought-provoking collection of recent case studies revealed that retailers are now engaging with personalisation in technologically sophisticated ways.

Consumers’ expectations of personalisation are on the rise too, with a recent survey revealing that 77% expect a retailer’s website to display products and offers that appeal to their tastes.


Personalisation in retail is allowing retailers to engage with the consumer on a more intimate level, providing a customer experience that strengthens the relationship between the brand and the individual. Using data captured from purchase history, social media, and buying behaviour, retailers can use a consumer’s likes, dislikes and demographic information, to tailor targeted marketing campaign material in order to encourage more purchases.

In-store, this hinges on beacons: low-cost, location-based technology that uses Bluetooth for communicating with beacon-enabled devices. For example, if a consumer has a mobile enabled with a retailers’ app, the retailer can then push tailored notifications, vouchers and discounts to the device when the customer is near, or in, the store.

Data profiling is being used in various ways in-store, perhaps even bordering on “creepy” (Retail Week). Facial recognition technology teamed with beacons can deliver highly personalised experiences, yet 73% of consumers say that it would be “creepy” if a retailer used facial recognition technology to target advertisements on digital screens based on their gender and age. Some consumers evidently aren’t ready for data capture in this form.

However, despite the “futuristic” terminology surrounding new retail practices, the personalisation buzzword has made us think about the similarities with the “traditional” experience.

50 years ago, when the bricks-and-mortar store was the only shopping “channel”, you’d have a very similar experience.

The shop assistant would greet a loyal, regular customer by name, and remember their previous purchases. They’d be able to make recommendations based on what the customer has liked in the past, and interact at the appropriate level.

The only difference that 2015 personalisation holds, is that it can be applied across all channels, not only by a sales assistant in-store, but conveyed through the website, in mailing material, and mobile alerts. Also, it’s collated in technologically advanced and subtle ways, rather than through human interaction alone.

If there’s anything for retailers to learn here, it’s that the crux of this kind of retailing remains the same: the customer experience must be at the heart.

One Response

  1. Rhianne says:

    Interesting parallels between traditional personalised customer experience, and the “new” version: consumers’ expectations that a retailer “knows” them has remained the same. Now that the 5p plastic bag charge has come into force, maybe we’ll start seeing traditional shopping baskets back on the high street!

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