Personalization Levels Vary Across Sales Channels

Most retailers focus on email, but anonymity rules when shopping in-store 

Author: Krista Garcia

August 3, 2018

Based on numerous studies, personalization has become top of mind for nearly every retailer. A new Retail TouchPoints survey, conducted in conjunction with Oracle, found that 87% of retailers said it has become a bigger priority in 2018. Email reigns supreme, but other methods shouldn't be ignored.

The focus on personalization has paid off for many. Increased sales was the top result of personalization strategies, cited by 66% of respondents, though the bulk of them (24%) saw gains of less than 5%. Just over one-fifth (22%) said personalization investments boosted sales by 5% to 10%, while that same percentage said they have not been able to quantify a figure. 

Personalization is a concept that's great in theory, but it's easier said than done. It also hasn't been implemented consistently across channels. Most retailers in the study said they are concentrating on email personalization (70%), likely because it has long been a marketing staple and comes with all of the best practices associated with an established tool. A majority also personalize the ecommerce experience to some extent (64%), while mobile and in-store have been focused on to a lesser degree.

With the exclusion of in-store, the findings mirrored the digital channels US marketers used for personalization, according to a March 2018 survey by Evergage and Researchscape International. Three-quarters of respondents were using email for personalization, while 49% used it online, 38% for mobile apps and 28% for mobile web. 

Digging into the channels that have plenty of room for improvement, the top mobile personalization tactics implemented among those in the Retail TouchPoints/Oracle study were personalized offers via push notifications, apps displaying customer names and apps sending push notifications based on events or behavior, all cited by roughly one-third of respondents. 

In-store personalization has been notoriously difficult to achieve. The only significant personalization used by retailers in-store was the use of clienteling solutions for sales associates (43%), which demonstrates the bridge mobile can provide between the online and offline worlds. 

Most marketers recognize that implementing personalization doesn't come without challenges, from data issues to budgetary constraints. In the Retail TouchPoints/Oracle study, the leading barriers were maintaining a comprehensive database of real-time customer information (44%) and integrating structured and unstructured data (43%). Only 6% cited C-suite buy-in, indicating the importance of personalization across all levels of an organization.