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Portrait of author Jon Taylor
Jon Taylor

Head of Brand & Content

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It’s time to realize the true power of personalization

By Jon Taylor on April 20, 2022 - 5 Minute Read

In today’s retail world, customers’ expectations are higher than ever before. Providing customers with the convenience they now demand is a top priority for those brands looking to thrive in the modern market.

The good news is that the proliferation of data means that modern retailers have all the ingredients they need to perfect their personalization strategies, right there at their fingertips. For many, though, personalization is still little more than adding a {First Name} token or a slightly-segmented email blast.

Decision Intelligence is here to change that.

So, what do we mean by personalization?

Traditionally, personalization often meant the inclusion of a customer’s name in a subject line, or by only sending communications at a frequency chosen via a preference center. However, for me, personalization today means enhancing your customers’ experience in a way which is relevant to them.

This could be achieved by making subtle changes, such as using a product recommender to only show products which are predicted to resonate with a customer, or can be much more advanced – for example, changing the checkout process of your website to better suit your customers’ preferred payment methods. It’s all about investing in the relationship you have with each individual customer, as opposed to the transaction you hope that they’ll make.

But why personalize?

Knowing your customers better than any other brand does is now more necessary than ever, and will set you apart from the competition. This trend has been accelerated by the significant shifts in shopping habits that retailers have seen off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many retailers were forced to put their digital storefront first – for some, this change happened, quite literally, overnight! As stores and malls closed their shutters, suddenly customers were forced to shop online for any items not considered essential. This meant that their exposure to online purchasing journeys massively increased, and so too did their perceptions of what a ‘good’ online customer experience should look like.

Comparisons of these experiences were now no longer siloed into sub-verticals. Customers could now compare their online experience of buying from a fashion retailer against that of a bank, or a toy retailer against a food delivery service. This further highlighted the need for all brands to ensure that every single touchpoint with a customer was meaningful, relevant and – crucially – personal.

In my opinion, a personalized customer experience is now the key driver of customer loyalty. Brands need to ensure that their customers have access to the products they want, and have the ability to easily purchase them in a way that works for them. The combination of these, whilst also making them feel like an individual and not just a number in a crowd, is now integral to retail success. 

A personalized customer experience is now the key driver of customer loyalty.

Catherine Frame

Customer Intelligence Lead at Peak

Data and personalization

So, what’s the secret to doing personalization well? Collecting and harnessing first-party data is key. The more data points collected from a customer, the more you can enable a much stronger level of personalization. There’s also a goldmine of opportunity to be found in other areas of your business, from your warehouse management system, EPoS data and in-store data, to name just a few.

However, remember that your data is only as valuable as the outputs generated by it! For this reason, it’s crucial to learn everything there is to know about your data, understanding the patterns, correlations and segmentations in order to identify value opportunities.

Whilst, in some cases, this does mean that customer segmentation groups may be smaller, it ensures that every interaction a retailer is having with their customers is relevant. They’re showing their customers what they want to see, when they want to see it, via their preferred method of communication.

Creating a network of these smaller, sophisticated segmented journeys means customers are having much more valuable interactions with brands – which, in turn, will lead to improving key metrics such as lifetime value and repeat purchase rate!

Know your customer’s next move

The collection and understanding of data is only the starting point to being able to successfully implement effective personalization. Making your data work hard for your business is the next step in driving game-changing customer insights.

By leveraging technology like Decision Intelligence, you can determine both your customers’ preferences and the next best action to take, instantly. This ensures that you, as a retailer, are always one step ahead when it comes to fulfilling your customers’ needs and meeting their expectations.

What is Decision Intelligence?

Decision Intelligence is the commercial application of AI to the decision making process. It is outcome focused and must deliver on commercial objectives. Decision Intelligence has the unique ability to leverage data from across an entire business, not just siloed functions, to give retailers a truly holistic view of what’s happening across the board. 

With all of your data in one place, AI is then applied to spot patterns, trends and future possibilities; allowing teams to go from data, to real-time insight, to a great decision. From a personalization perspective, Decision Intelligence enables you to power great human interactions, driven by AI, to forge closer relationships with customers and increase brand loyalty.

Want to know more?

Discover how Decision Intelligence will change the way people make commercial decisions, no matter their team or role.

Tying up online and offline

As we continue to transition into the post-pandemic world, retailers who have both a digital and brick and mortar presence now have a unique opportunity to ensure that their customer experience, both offline and online, are reflective of each other. The one consistent element between the two locations is – here’s that word again – data

Ensuring that data collected is correct and relevant means that you as a retailer are taking an omni-channel approach to your personalization strategy. Soon it will become almost irrelevant where your customers shop; their interactions with your store will remain the same. 

Having sight of the data you need available in stores also allows your employees to continue the personalization journey of your customer. This could be in terms of bespoke promotions or discounts, or something slightly more complex like the surfacing of personalized product recommendations. 

Whatever the output, it’s again all about recognizing that customers are individuals – and ensuring that any interaction they have with your store is as positive as it can be.

Working across teams to ensure consistent personalization

When employed effectively, personalization can generate incredible results for retailers. However, mismanaging a customer’s personalization expectations can be equally as dangerous.

Working across teams to ensure your customer receives a consistent level of personalization at every single touchpoint ensures that each customer feels like they’re fully understood and fully valued by your brand. 

To enable this, investing in talent and training across all teams to put personalization at the heart of what they do is key. There’s no denying that introducing effective personalization across an entire business is hard – but the benefits are most definitely worth it!

person buying something on their cell phone using a credit card

But what if a customer is new and we know little (or nothing) about them?

Fear not! When there are new customers, who have no history with your brand, you can create a personalized profile based on traits associated with behaviors seen so far, such as product and style choices or even the campaign that drove them to your website in the first place.

That information can then be taken and compared to all existing customer profiles to give some initial indications. This is effective for ‘cold start’ personalization (where there is no purchase or interaction history.) Over time, as your relationship with these customers develops, and as their data points begin to grow, more sophisticated levels of personalization can be introduced.

Where should you start with personalization?

Your main takeaway here should be that data is key. Collecting as much relevant data as possible is crucial to ensuring the success of your personalization strategy.

Make sure that you test, test and test again! Personalization is an art, and getting it right can be difficult at first. By employing strategic testing methods, and by tracking every single possible outcome, it will further inform areas of improvement, value and success!  

Discover the power of personalization

Take a look at some of our success stories to learn how Decision Intelligence is driving game-changing results for businesses across sectors.


Essentra Components

Optimizing the performance of Essentra's transactional websites.


Doubling online recommended product purchases across superstores.


Finding new audiences during COVID-19.

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