Does a retailer’s website allow customers to create a profile and wishlist, and set their own personal preferences? Can they receive notifications for out-of-stock items? Are the product recommendations relevant? Those are just a few of the many questions we asked ourselves when we created the Retail Personalization Index two years ago, evaluating brands’ personalized marketing across their websites, email programs, mobile apps and even brick-and-mortar stores.

Countless factors go into what makes a truly personalized shopping experience, but we did our best to quantify them. As we’ve expanded the Index to include more than 250 brands, with only the most sophisticated personalizers making the Sailthru 100, we’ve seen a far greater chasm between the top and the bottom.

Website Scores Were Much Higher Than Mobile

We broke down our research by channel, giving the mobile category greater weight this year. More than any other channel, mobile was indicative of a brand’s overall personalization proficiency. Just eight brands earned at least 18, or 90%, of those points — and they all appeared in the top 15. That’s because mobile devices are a huge part of the shopping experience and are increasingly accounting for conversions. Mobile commerce is perpetually on the rise and during the holidays last year, it represented 43.8% of retail ecommerce sales.

At the same time, plenty of retailers aren’t giving their mobile experience much TLC. Of 20 possible points, the average retailer scored just 5.5. That number is so low because 34.4% of the brands we evaluated scored zero points. Meanwhile, 81% of the Sailthru 100 earned at least half  of the available points in site personalization score. A number of retailers that didn’t make the top 100, like RevZilla and DermStore, had strong site scores.

This tells us that overall, brands prioritize site over mobile. But they shouldn’t.

Mobile Devices Represent Digital Transformation


Smartphones are a big part of the customer journey, the crossroads of commerce and the key to in-store personalization. After all, what are the odds we’re going to go shopping without our trusty handheld devices that contain all the information in the entire world?

Over the past few years, marketers have had to change up their strategies accordingly.

It’s no secret that traditional retailers are working to enhance their ecommerce as more online brands move IRL. Last year, commercial real estate firm JLL projected that digitally native brands like Casper and Allbirds will open 850 physical stores over the next five years. Within the Index’s top 10, ninth-place Wayfair opened its first brick-and-mortar store in August, while third-place Rent the Runway now has five.

But of course, it’s not about one or the other, physical or digital. Today’s customer journey transcends channels; it’s about how well they complement each other as the shopper seamlessly toggles between the two. Just look at the brands to earn perfect mobile personalization scores. There were just three and they’re all traditional retailers: Sephora, Ulta and Nike.

Learn more about how you can improve mobile personalization with Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s Mobile Marketing Automation Platform.