On surf brand O’Neill’s website, a click on an image of a women’s sleeveless dress immediately yields many similar dresses at the bottom of the selected item, mostly also sleeveless. Click in the search bar and a small preview box automatically appears next to the bar featuring more women’s items. Come back to the site on a different visit, a selection of women’s products pops up, rather than the mix of men's and women’s items that appeared on the first site visit.
Retailers are seeking to know who their customers are and respond to their demands on their terms—increasingly, in real time. The personalization efforts affect virtually every aspect of customer experience.
Getting personalization right is increasingly crucial in today’s retail world. Consumers are less loyal because, armed with mobile phones, they have more options to shop wherever and whenever they please.
“This is the future of shopping,” said Kurt Heinemann, chief marketing officer of personalization platform Reflektion, in an interview. The company, funded by venture capital firms including Intel Capital and founded by former Google employees, counts among its clients O’Neill, Godiva, Disney, Toms shoes and Ann Taylor.
And in a sign of market demand, its customer base more than doubled in Q1 alone.
At the just concluded IRCE conference in Chicago, personalization was a predominant theme at both the presentations and on the exhibitor floor.
One-year-old Kidbox, which sends customers curated boxes of kids' clothing, uses data to decide what should go in each box. “We build a team of data scientists in Tel Aviv,” Miki Racine Berardelli, CEO of New York-based Kidbox, told eMarketer Retail. “When a customer fills out the profile, that feeds into if they don’t want certain styles or logos. We have given that product attributes. I don’t think any retailer will be successful without data scientists.” Berardelli added that the company also has personal stylists review each box after the algorithm generates a content list.