Conventional wisdom holds that experience personalization forms part of the foundation of customer loyalty. Whether it’s personalized communications, personalized customer service, or personalized product recommendations, tailoring the retail experience to your individual best customers helps build the core emotional elements of trust, commitment, and reciprocity that form the core of long-term, profitable customer relationships. We all know it works – so why do so many retailers struggle with delivering personalization? Now a new ranking index attempts to provide useful case studies by highlighting the companies that are delivering on the power of personalization.
By Wise Marketer Staff
Here’s the detail: Experience management firm Sailthru last week announced the debut of its first annual Retail Personalization Index, a ranking of 100 top retail brands according to how well they personalize the customer experience.
The Retail Personalization Index attempts to quantify how leading retailers are personalizing their customer experience; to determine gaps in the approach to personalization used by top retailers; and to examine the relationship between a personalized experience, customer satisfaction, and retention to drive revenue, reduce customer churn, and optimize engagement.
Three key takeaways for retailers from the Personalization Index include:
- Customer experience and personalization are inseparable; a high-quality customer experience is one that is personalized, and a personalized experience likely to be high quality.
- Size and scale are not necessary to execute and produce results; retailers should focus their personalization strategy on what makes them — and their buyers — unique.
- Even the top brands in the study failed to score over 79 out of a possible 100; to provide a better customer experience, brands should focus on strengthening their experience across all of their customer touch points, not just on one channel.
“The vast majority of the top 25 brands are growing revenues year on year, reinforcing the value of a personalized digital experience for customers as a prudent business strategy,” said Neil Lustig, CEO, Sailthru. “What’s even more telling about the value of personalization is that brands in the midst of executing turnaround strategies are rapidly evolving their customer experience to once again gain traction in the market. Sailthru is thrilled to recognize these top brands for their efforts to create exemplary digital customer experiences.”
Scores were awarded on a scale of 0-100. Sephora earned highest honors on the index with a score of 79, followed by the top five brands scoring:
1. Sephora, 79
2. JustFab, 72
3. Walmart, 69
4. Net-a-Porter, 64
T – 5. Ebay, 62
T – 5. Nordstrom, 62
T- 5. REI, 62
The outlier in the above list is, of course, Walmart, which along with fashion retailer Net-a-Porter and ecommerce site Ebay is the only brand in the top 7 without a branded loyalty program. Net-a-Porter, while not operating a distinct loyalty program, does play in other brands’ loyalty programs as either an earn or a redemption partner.
How does Walmart crack the top five? According to the Index’s sub-scores, Walmart ranks highly on personalization elements on both its web site and mobile experience. Research on the Personalization Index was conducted between April and August 2017 and scored 100 retail brands, as selected by Sailthru, on how they personalize the customer experience. Additionally, Sailthru fielded a survey of over 13,000 US and UK customers for each retailer (having shopped at one or more of the 100 retailers in the past 12 months) to quantify how those customers felt about the brand and their experience. According to the report, the 100 retail brands included in the survey were selected based on a number of criteria, including brand prominence, reputation, and retailer type. Money quote from Sailthru VP of marketing Jason Grunberg:
“For a brand to achieve the highest possible score, a customer would have to find its omnichannel experience seamless – meaning no matter how they interacted with a brand, be it on mobile, desktop, email, in store, the experience would need to be fluid and comprehensive. While many retailers tout omnichannel initiatives, our research proves that very few are close to meeting consumer expectations.”
For a brand perspective, Sailthru provides this quote from their client Monica Deretich, VP of marketing and CRM at JustFab:
“Personalization has been at the core of the JustFab business model since our founding in 2010, and it’s a key contributor to our compound annual growth rate of 124 percent. Our members are the focus of everything we do, every single day. We strive to create styles she wants at a value she’ll love, all within a curated and customized digital experience. Modern retail relies on strong long-term relationships with individual customers, and we continuously work to advance the personalization within our customer experience so that we can elevate our business and the retail industry at large.”
This quote is on the money, and illustrates just how importantly growth brands in retail have embraced personalization and loyalty. The Sailthru survey provides a useful snapshot of success.
See the full list of 100 retailers and download the report here.
Rick Ferguson is Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).