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Getting Personal

“Know your shopper” has taken on a whole new digital opportunity. Retailers are collecting customer data and offering individualized shopping experiences

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It’s the age-old retail question: What do shoppers want?

Today’s answer is: They want everything. Service. Convenience. Choice. Most of all, they want a retailer that knows them, their preferences and tastes, their price points, their shopping histories and habits.

According to a Forbes.com article (“The Seven Best Examples of Artificial Intelligence to Improve Personalization,” posted Jan. 24, 2019), “73 percent of consumers prefer to do business with brands that take their personal preferences into account.”

“The customers are the boss, and they expect to be recognized and treated individually,” says Michael Decker, VP, Marketing, at Medallion Retail, the New York-based consultancy. “It’s the price of entry these days.”

Through technological investment and intense data collection, retailers now steer shoppers to their likely desired merchandise based on past purchases, Internet searches and sophisticated algorithms.

Here are some retailers offering groundbreaking personalization:

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Clinique Laboratories (New York) The cosmetics giant launched Clinique iD in December in a SoHo pop-up. Shoppers access a consultation bar and take a skin quiz on tablets. The results are matched to 15 possible moisturizer combinations.

Levi Strauss & Co. (San Francisco) In its new Manhattan flagship, iPads show shoppers how products would look “customized” – studs, patches, distressed. The customer chooses and the tailor shop makes them, complete with an interactive video chat.

American Eagle Outfitters (Pittsburgh) The teen clothier’s new AE Studio concept (now known as Be You studio), most recently opened in an upscale mall in Peabody, Mass., provides iPads for product fit and specifications, and in the fitting rooms, to allow for further personalization.

Nordstrom (Seattle) An app collects customer data, so that when shoppers make appointments, their dressing rooms are set up on their arrival with choices based on their histories and input. They can try items on themselves or on their avatars.

Sephora (Paris) A Color IQ test allows customers to match their skin tones with a four-digit Pantone code. It’s then recorded and put into the system, accessible every time they shop.

Best Buy (Richfield, Minn.) A mobile app identifies a shopper walking into a store and texts that person individualized information about what’s in inventory, cross-referencing the customer’s search history.

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Is all this really worth the effort and investment? “Brands that excel at personalization deliver five to eight times the marketing ROI,” according to the Forbes.com article, “and boost their sales by more than 10 percent over companies that don’t personalize.”

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