Personalisation used to be seen as just a trend, which was often achieved by adding a “FirstName” field in the subject line of an email, or if you had browser cookie on your site, then maybe a message might appear: “Welcome back, James”.  

Over the last several years personalisation has evolved tremendously, with the ability to personalise practically any part of the customer journey. The most successful marketers today approach personalisation as a business strategy, not a tactic or passing fad — and, even more, your customers want and expect it.

At this year’s Drapers Digital Festival, the biggest takeaway by far was how seriously the fashion and apparel industry is starting to take personalisation. But many marketers are still in the infancy stage of offering truly personalised, cross-channel experiences for every customer.  

We recently partnered with the team at Drapers for a new study examining how brands are using personalisation today, and why it’s retail’s biggest opportunity. In the study, we talked with many marketers from brands like N Brown Group, Shop Direct, River Island, JustFab, Joules, EAST and M&Co. Check out below for a peek into some of the insights shared, and get the full study here.

Email Personalisation

Question: Describe the approach to personalisation you are taking in email, on your website, in your mobile app, and in other parts of your customer experience (i.e. support) – what data is used in each channel? What specific methodologies are used?

Monica Deretich, Vice President of Marketing and CRM, JustFab

“We want to create an omnichannel personalised experience across all of our channels. While we are working to get there, it is important that all of the data feeding into our systems come directly from our enterprise data warehouse. We have approximately 100 custom variables feeding into Sailthru and use them to feed into our personalisation efforts within email and onsite.”

Finn Christo, Group Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimisation Manager, N Brown Group:

“We start with the largest category, such as new visitors vs. returning ones, then drill down with each successive step. This could be new visitors and the traffic source, together with the device type used and category searched for.”

Erica Vilkauls, Chief Executive, EAST:

“We currently segment at a high level based upon customer purchase history, demographic profile and spend levels.

This is mostly segmentation with the exception of product recommendations based upon browsing and buying behaviour supported with tactical CRO [conversion rate optimisation] techniques.”


Onsite Personalisation

Question: How are you currently personalising content on your website?

Pav Purewal, Digital Lead Customer Experience Manager, River Island:

“Currently our personalisation is focussed around email marketing, and retargeting etc. We are now working on bringing some of that intelligence on to the site so we are able to offer a more targeted and personalised journey on the website too.”

Peter Mila, Chief Information Officer, M&Co

“Online customers receive a personalised experience based on their location, device and behaviour. Using a responsive site we are able to recognise the device a customer is browsing on and serves up appropriate content based on this. We also have a fully-translated checkout for international customers, with prices shown in the currency specific to location and shipping information tailored to the destination location. Some of our customer’s browsing and buying data is fed into our ecommerce platform so we use this to target customer groups with personalised content and product recommendations. As we start to feed more of our data into our platform, this is an area we will expand on with the aim of personalising every aspect of a customer’s online journey.”

Ralph Percival, Ecommerce Director, Joules

“We use a third party application, and we are joining our personalisation approach up across all of our digital channels. That is from our media strategy, social, email and online. We are actively testing and learning around how we can use consistent data across all of those channels. “

Dan Rubel, Strategy and Communications Director, Shop Direct

“Things are personalised even before customers get to our website. For example, we spot new customers on Facebook by identifying characteristics that match those of our existing customers – look-a-like models. So, if you match the profile of a customer who’s bought furniture, you might see an ad for a sofa in your newsfeed. Once customers land on the website, they experience a shop that’s tailor made for them and one that gets more relevant the longer customers shop with us. Our homepage content, sort orders, top navigation menus and product recommendations deeper within the shopping journey are all personalised. Specifically, better homepages for non-customers serve up the most relevant banners, and style advice via Dressipi offers personalised style recommendations and size advice as customers shop.

After they’ve shopped, we communicate in a way that’s tailored. We send customers offers or information that we think will be of specific interest given their unique profile. For example, if you’re a new customer, we’ll spend a bit more time talking about the various products we offer and explaining the various ways to pay – something existing customers may already know so will be less eager to hear about. If you’ve shopped with us for a while but the regularity of your visits change, we may start to serve up some new ideas and offers tailored to you.”