Why personalisation means good retail

Retailers are all chasing a personalisation dream, aiming to tailor in-store and online propositions to ensure their customers feel like they’ve received relevant, impactful, and delightful experiences.

The success stories that are being written have a common subplot that tends to revolve around ramping up the service side of retail; investing in technology that enables both staff and websites to do their jobs better, and mixing it in with good, old-fashioned retail fundamentals.

Here, Frank Lochbaum, Managing Partner at KPS, shares his insights on three companies that are leading the way when it comes to building personal relationships with their customers.

No Nike postcode lottery 

Sports brand Nike opened a new concept store in Los Angeles earlier this year, which it says is merchandised based on “a deep understanding of the neighbourhood” it resides in.

Nike by Melrose stocks a selection of Nike.com bestsellers and essentials, but it is noteworthy in that it also puts a greater emphasis on city-specific styles determined by Nike’s digital commerce data. It looks at local online buying patterns, app usage and app engagement, and stocks its store based on these analytics.

This initiative ticks so many boxes for modern retail – it shows a company that is neatly aligning its digital and physical assets, a business that is customer centric, and one that understands the importance of relevancy and playing up to personal preference. If the LA shop is successful, more so-called ‘Nike Live’ stores are expected to open in the near future.

John Lewis & Partners personalisation at a premium

News that UK department store chain, John Lewis, is rolling out an array of additional services in conjunction with its Cheltenham store opening brings into focus the art of the personalised service – from the basics to the very high-end. 

Some 20 new services are available at the new store, aimed at contributing to ‘experiential retailing’ that today’s customers are increasingly demanding. One such initiative includes a private after-hours shopping service – for those who are willing to spend at least £10,000.

For that fee, staff will be available after normal shopping hours specifically to offer a one-to-one service to individuals, lead a groups of friends or a family around the aisles in the pursuit of kitting out a home, wardrobe or a combination of the two. It’s clearly a premium service, but it looks set to be a premium – and personalised – retail experience like no other.

Of course, every retail experience in the store should be as personal as possible – and John Lewis should know that it will only gain credit with its wider customer base if it offers a personalised and special service for all its customers, no matter how much they are willing to spend.

Pringle gets personal

Away from those big-name retail names, luxury knitwear manufacturer, Pringle of Scotland, is another example of a company focused on personalisation. A few years back it launched a special e-commerce site that allowed its customers a chance to create and purchase bespoke Pringle pieces.

Consumers could pick a style they liked, and customise up to 13 different parts – colour, fit, and texture for example – of the selected garments presented on the Pringle Deconstructed site. Every piece available was completely customisable – from the sleeves to the neck trim, and even the brand’s classic diamond pattern – to give a real special service to users.

The holy trinity of retail services

So, what do these three retail businesses, Nike, John Lewis, and Pringle, all have in common? It’s the holy trinity of service, technology, and tried and trusted retail skills being optimised to good effect, which have resulted in personalised experiences for customers when they are most required.

Of course, using data to better tailor interactions with customers is important – be it email segmentation, general online search or through the use of CRM systems actively being used in the store environment.

And, naturally being able to hone your product offer and customer service offering to the ‘market of one’ has huge benefits in terms of making sure individuals feel special at the point of consideration, or the all-important point of purchase.

But, ultimately, personalisation comes down to emotion and brand equity in the eyes of the customer: and there are many moving parts that retailers need to ride and maintain to ensure those emotions and company interactions are positive ones – and continue to be so in the future.

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