Retail Personalization Do’s & Don’ts

When done effectively, creating retail experiences driven by personalization can increase both conversion and customer satisfaction. Here are some rules for the road when planning and executing personalization efforts.


  • Create a unique customer identifier (login) to allow for ID persistency across devices and channels. This allows for experience continuity and the ability for the customer to pick up where they left off and continue their progress. Ultimately personalization is all about customized experiences. Better, more effective experiences require consistency and persistence.
  • Rethink traditional approaches to customer segmentation. Segmentation in the Mad Men days was all about carving up advertising audiences based on demographic data. Retailers today should instead focus on behavioral cohorts based on customer journeys and the psychographics that drive them.
  • Understand where customers and prospects are in the purchase funnel. Tailoring messaging and content by stage will encourage progression toward a sale, just as “discount” or “sale” signs still do in-store. Context is very important here – just because you can retarget a prospect wherever they travel digitally doesn’t mean you should. Be selective based on what the data tells you about performance in context.
  • Speaking of data, consider an assessment of your marketing and commerce tech stack. Personalization relies on a combination of pattern recognition (data) and experience delivery (content, ads). A well-integrated stack can still be lightweight and not break the bank, but many in place today were built for specific channel or transaction purposes and bolted onto over many years.
  • Tie digital to in-store experiences whenever possible. There’s a surprise and delight in many customers when their digital personas meet real life in-store, simplifying the communication of preferences and transaction history. Beacons and other IoT devices, as well as salesperson tablet apps, are straightforward ways to further the connection between digital and brick & mortar.


  • Don’t be creepy. There’s a fine line between personalization and creepiness. If a concept falls into the blurry space near “acceptable”, just stop, it’s not worth it. We’ve all read the expose on Target’s uncanny personalization prowess (and if you haven’t you should here). You never want to be the one explaining that effort to a father.
  • Don’t make the tech tough. This is particularly true with logins. Password reset protocols should be clear and industry standard. And don’t overburden the consumer with 15 pages of legalese to accept, if possible. Many regulated industries can’t help it, but where possible, go light to streamline the experience.
  • Don’t operate in silos internally. Integrate Product, Merchandising, Marketing, Sales, Fulfillment, and Customer Service into teams that inform customer segmentation and messaging. This is especially true when it comes to technology platforms. We’ve all had the experience of being handed from one department to another, each operating on their own system, with no history of transactions or communications – this is the opposite of personalization.
  • Do not sell customer data to SPAM artists. Yes, every retailer sells their data. But there are ways to do it reputably versus knowingly selling to aggregators that will put it out to the highest bidder. You have a responsibility to your customers to know and act better. Plus you’ll sleep better at night.

Zemoga has been a creative technology partner to leading Retailers for over 15 years.  We’ve helped firms large and small improve their digital marketing, products, sales tools, and customer service experiences. If you’d like to learn more about our proven approach, please reach out.