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Retailing recalibrated: Getting personal to drive customer interest and loyalty

Surprise and delight customers with a multichannel shopping experience that’s uniquely theirs.

Today’s digital-attuned customers want personalized and distinctive interactions across all of the retail channels they use. They rely on a variety of technologies and multiple touch-points that put a premium on retailer agility and nimbleness. Reaching these customers requires an adaptive retail approach, one that centers on:

  • Pervasiveness: Focus less on individual locations or channels and more on holistic journeys. Brands should integrate with customers’ lives in meaningful ways.

  • Personalization: Understand the customer’s profile, including how, when and what they buy, and use analytics to optimize price, assortment, promotions and space.

  • Privacy: Strike the right balance in the customer relationship to create trust, engagement, affinity, desire and delight.

Two of these mandates can create some challenges. For example, while today’s shoppers seek highly personalized offers and experiences across channels, they also value privacy. Accenture research shows that 60 percent want to receive real time promotions and offers while shopping in stores, but only 20 percent want retailers to know their current locations. Personalization preferences also change by age: While 17 percent of millennials want retailers to remind them of items they need while shopping only 6 percent of baby boomers say the same thing.

Retailers can use several techniques to raise customer comfort levels about personalization:

  • Build trust, especially concerning customer information

  • Raise awareness by educating shoppers about personalization approaches across channels

  • Communicate the value of personalized, seamless and enjoyable shopping experiences

  • Be transparent, especially regarding plans to use customer data in loyalty programs

  • Give shoppers more control over how and when the company uses their information

  • Keep data secure by enforcing appropriate security processes and protocols

To bring shoppers clearly into view, retailers need to create “digital customer genomes.” Accenture defines these as the detailed digital DNA of a business’s customers, which also provides the basis for the next generation of customer segmentation data. Digital customer genomes combine both traditional and alternate data, with the former coming from internal customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and other company systems. It provides the solid demographic underpinnings needed to integrate transactional data and loyalty card information. Alternate data refers to information found beyond a business’s borders, such as social media, community forums and location-based information. By combining the two, retailers create a single, detailed view of the customer that includes shopper behaviors, clothing sizes, preferences, social activity and more.

To make this happen, many retailers need to break open the data silos in their organizations to draw needed customer information from multitudes of different databases and systems. In other words, they have to turn their original systems of record into systems of (customer) engagement. Systems of engagement give retailers access to brand, product and customer data from all channels—the key to crafting seamlessly personalized shopping experiences whether customers are online, in the store or on the go. Combining technology and data lets retailers create a loop of communication with shoppers before, during and after they complete a transaction, fostering increased engagement and loyalty.