Product quality is certainly important to shoppers. So is a fair and reasonable price. Not to mention a brand’s track record on diversity, activism and political affiliation, among other modern “metrics.” But everything these days seemingly takes a back seat to the experience—and brands must strive to make theirs seamless and memorable, with service assistance available at every touchpoint of the journey.

So which brands are doing it best? Cross-channel experience management platform Sailthru recently 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 Index quantifies how leading retailers are personalizing their customer experience, determines gaps in the approach to personalization used by top retailers, and to examines the relationship between a personalized experience, customer satisfaction, and retention to drive revenue, reduce customer churn, and optimize engagement.

“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 of Sailthru, in a news release. “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.”

Experience concept: Hand is replacing part of a DNA molecule.

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.

“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 [or] in-store, the experience would need to be fluid and comprehensive,” said Jason Grunberg, vice president of marketing at Sailthru, in the release. “While many retailers tout omnichannel initiatives, our research proves that very few are close to meeting consumer expectations.”

Sailthru created the Index in response to market feedback from retailers seeking a better understanding of what personalization is and which brands are taking innovative approaches. Scores were awarded on a scale of 0-100. Sephora earned highest honors on the index with an overall score of 79. Scores are tabulated based on personalization aspects of brand websites, emails and mobile platforms, among others. The top 5 scorers include:

These brands lead in personalized experiences

“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,” said Monica Deretich, vice president of marketing and CRM at JustFab, in the release.

The 100 retail brands included in the survey were selected based on a number of criteria, including brand prominence, reputation, and retailer type. See the complete ranking of 100 brands here.

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.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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