The purpose of Sailthru's Retail Personalization Index is to quantify how leading retailers are personalizing their customer experience, which personalization methods are most effective, and the relationship between a personalized experience, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.

New in 2021

How the Index adapted for the pandemic

  • Expanded consumer research with US and UK respondents
  • Data around pandemic-era consumer behavior
  • Research around curbside pickup and buy online, pickup in-store 
  • Additional attributes to highlight personalized SMS and app experiences

The Top 100 in your inbox

Download this year’s report for a full spectrum of retailer insights. Study your favorite brands and discover how they boost the customer journey.


How we choose, evaluate, and rank the Top 100 brands

More than 260 brands were selected based on varying criteria: brand prominence, retailer type, customer experience design, track record of innovation, and known approaches to personalization. Sailthru’s team of personalization specialists rely on backgrounds in retail, commerce, digital marketing, UX design, business intelligence, and more to develop a strong rubric of attributes. 

From there, the Index is the result of two research projects beginning in May 2020 and running through January 2021:

Once this data was collected, we ran a series of stepwise regressions on a training data subset of the study’s brands, with NPS, satisfaction, and likelihood to make a future purchase as the dependent variables. The resulting findings were then used to assign a points value to each trait that better reflected that trait’s impact on measurable business outcomes. In this case, NPS, customer satisfaction, and the likelihood of making a future purchase.

The fourth annual edition’s scoring rubric

Several key factors in our analysis this year cannot be used to helpfully describe the differences in consumer preferences that might result. There was no significant difference in NPS, satisfaction, or likelihood to purchase scores for the brands missing these features. In a sense, these factors have become “table stakes,” and assigned a value of 0 in the following scoring rubric:

  1. Having product recommendations (252 – 95% of brands)
  2. Having attribute-based recommendations (244 – 92% of brands)
  3. Retailers remove purchased items from email communications (249 – 94% of brands)
  4. Brand has a mobile-enabled website (264 – 99% of brands)
  5. Brand interacts/responds to customers on social channels (262 – 98% of brands)
  6. Site makes it clear how your data will be used (256 – 96% of brands)
  7. Unsubscribing is easy to do (253 – 95% of brands)

The big ones to note here are making unsubscribing to email communications easy — something that was only present for 81% of brands last year — removing purchased items from email communications, and making it clear how your data will be used, which speaks to how GDPR and CCPA regulations have changed the landscape for brands.

Purchase satisfaction surveys and follow-ups also went from being something that only 30% of retailers were doing to something so ubiquitous it’s no longer a differentiator. 

The following features were identified for each metric: 

The baseline scoring starts by assigning a value of 1 point to every trait not listed in the “table stakes” section above. Then, additional weighted points are assigned based on which features have positive coefficients in the final resulting models from our stepwise regressions. A feature could be worth up to 4 points if it was a significant positive driver of all three metrics.

Example attribute criteria for scoring research


Does the brand send emails that include the closest retail location based on where a customer opens email? Is there use of dynamic timers, current weather in the area etc.

Does the brand send emails that contain personalized product recommendations?

Does the brand send more than one email with personalized subject lines? 

Does the brand send a welcome email that includes personalized content such as customer name or products viewed?

Does the brand send an email or mobile notification/message for abandoned carts?


Are mobile notifications from the brand (SMS or app push) triggered by email activity? 

Does the brand send personalized product recommendations in push notifications/messaging?

Does the brand send SMS messages that contain personalized recommendations?

Is a customer’s shopping cart shared across the site and mobile device?

Does the brand’s mobile app include either augmented reality or virtual reality features/functionality to augment product browsing and/or purchase experience?


Does the brand provide out-of-stock explanations or estimated availability date? 

Does the brand have a “Save for Later” option in its checkout experience?

Does the brand have a preferences manager that allows customers to set messaging frequency beyond just “all” or “none?”

Does the brand’s homepage have personalized content for customers who are logged in? 

Does the brand send personalized browser notifications?

COVID-19 Response

Is there an option of delivery, BOPIS, and/or curbside pickup at checkout based on available inventory?

Does the brand show which stores are available for curbside pickup/BOPIS?

Does the brand allow you to schedule a time for curbside pickup?


Do brand emails contain loyalty program membership information such as total lifetime points and a link to how to use them?

Does the brand have a referral program?

Does the brand site allow the customer to view an item’s in-store availability from the website or app?

Does the brand use or feature social content from other customers for its recommendations/product images?

Did we miss anything?

If you’re a retailer included in the survey and would like more information about your score, please contact us.

Let us know

Want to be included next year?

Think your experience is top-tier? You may be eligible to be part of next year’s survey. Contact our team to learn more.

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