Personalization is always a winning strategy for retailers, especially during the holidays when there’s an uptick in marketing messages. It’s also even more challenging during this period. Customers are shopping for other people as well as themselves, so their usual preferences and browsing habits may not apply. But this holiday season, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue are solving that challenge with a personalized twist on gift guides.

Gift guides are a great way to make recommendations, a must this time of year. Last year, more than half of holiday shoppers purchased a retailer-recommended product.

For department stores and marketplace retailers, gift guides are a way to curate their massive inventories. And the creative approach of these three retailers demonstrates why during our exhaustive research for the Retail Personalization Index, this category out-performed every other.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Log onto Saks Fifth Avenue’s website and a pop-up will ask whether you need styling advice or gift advice. Saks’ (human) Style Advisors are there to help you figure out the perfect gift. There’s an added benefit of filters depending on your location and any starting points you may have.

Similarly, Saks launched a Holiday Gift Guide chatbot on Facebook Messenger for the second year in a row. Users dictate whether they’re shopping for him, her or kids, and then answer questions about the intended recipient, like his favorite drink or clothing style, or a child’s age and personality type. Saks even takes purchase and browsing history in mind when making suggestions.

Saks- chatbot gift guide


On November 28, Macy’s is launching personalized gift guides on Instagram carousels. Followers answer a few questions about their interests and budgets, and every day of the campaign focuses on a different family member or friend.

Macy’s has a curated collection of products for each. Users express interest by swiping, eventually finding their way to the perfect gift. The last frame will be shoppable, of course.


Nordstrom’s gift guide goes far more granular than “him” and “her.” Based on top-demanded categories and search terms by Nordstrom customers, the retailer introduced 11 personas from straightforward (The Tech Collector, The Luxe Lover) to more difficult to pinpoint (The Witty One, The Do-Gooder).

The website works like Mad Libs, where shoppers fill in the blanks regarding who they’re shopping for and the recipient’s tastes. Nordstrom allows further segmentation by gender, price range and color, in addition to location. The latter can determine curation, since not every store has fast delivery and in-store pickup options.

Nordstrom gift guide