Humans: the best in store personalization engine

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The best way to understand how your products will fare in the marketplace is to go where they will be sold and observe. Since I oversee products that are cross-channel, I make it a point to visit one of our retail stores whenever I travel.

Just this past week, I visited 2 stores in the Charlotte area. These 2 stores have performed markedly different this year. Store #1 is down single digits in comp sales. Store #2 is up double digits.

The stores had much of the same product on the shelves at the same price. What was the key ingredient that was fueling the difference in performance? Personalization.

Store #1’s manager took a very product and promotion oriented approach to business. Clearance signs everywhere. Product crammed into every corner. All meant to try to have whatever potential customers may want on hand.

Store #2 on the other hand, took a personalized approach to business. The associates all took the time to personally connect with the customers as they walked in. Many were addressed by name. When I asked a department manager to name her best customers, she was able to rattle off 10 names in 5 seconds.

There is a big trend in eCommerce to personalize the shopping experience. For anyone in retail that has stores or a call center, don’t forget that you have the greatest personalization weapon already available to you: your associates. Leverage them as much as possible. Give them the tools and support they need. Empower them to develop that personal connection with their customers. I’m willing to bet all of your selling channels will benefit from this investment.