Retailers Across Verticals Personalize With Digital Solutions

Following is Part 2 of the Retail TouchPoints series focused on Personalization Strategies That Work. This article spotlights retailers that are personalizing digital and physical brand experiences to increase purchase and drive loyalty. Part 3 will appear in the May 14 newsletter. Read Part 1 here.

As shoppers continue to leverage digital tools and channels to research, browse and buy products, they also are beginning to demand more relevant products and offers. With these heightened expectations, personalization is becoming an integral component of retailers’ cross-channel marketing strategies.

Best-in-class organizations are taking the following measures to create more relevant and personalized customer experiences, according to recent research from The Aberdeen Group report, titled: Big Data for Marketing: Targeting Success,: 

  • Improving targeted offers to ensure the right person, right channel, right time and right message (52%); 
  • Gaining insight about the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns and channels (39%); 
  • Identifying cross-sell/up-sell opportunities to existing customers (30%); and
  • Optimizing marketing activities at each touch point along the customer lifecycle (22%).  


Retailers are bridging organizational silos to better access customer behaviors and attributes, leading to more efficient data collection and segmentation, and in turn, more lucrative personalization strategies. Design Within Reach, National Pen and Party Supplies Delivered are among the retailers delivering more relevant messages, offers and product recommendations to consumers across channels.

Design Within Reach Leverages Data To Build Customer-To-Associate Dialogue

Interior decorating includes extensive browsing, researching and product comparison. As a result, Design Within Reach, a multichannel furniture retailer, is focused on providing cutting-edge tools and resources that will help guide shoppers seamlessly across the browsing and buying journey.

“Our customers are smart, educated and hyper-connected,” said Mark Simmons, VP of e-Commerce and Digital at Design Within Reach, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This is a major challenge that we try to embrace as a business. On top of that, our shoppers care about high-quality products and design. We want to meet their needs and criteria, so that is great motivation for us.”

The retailer’s core business model makes personalization and customization a lot easier to tackle: Design Within Reach operates as an integrated, multichannel company, Simmons explained. “We always have focused on trying to maximize the experience for consumers online and in stores. But our company always has been multichannel, so we don’t have the legacy issues a lot of other retailers have.”

Design Within Reach is leveraging digital tools to empower shoppers, as well as “account executives” (the retailer’s name for store associates). For example, a 3D planner, which is available on the e-Commerce and tablet-optimized sites, helps users upload images of rooms and add/rearrange furniture. This offers a more complete view of room designs and empowers consumers’ product selection.

To create a more compelling online shopping experience, Design Within Reach partnered with MarketLive, an end-to-end commerce platform. Simmons noted that MarketLive “has helped us innovate in the areas of mobile and e-Commerce. We needed a partner versed in e-Commerce that understood multichannel needs, and could help us expand across devices, and also provide personalized content and detailed product recommendations.”

The Design Within Reach web site includes product suggestions based on past browsing and buying history. In order to provide relevant interactions in stores, account executives also are armed with a variety of data, Simmons noted. Employees have access to past purchase data, as well as current order information, so they can address all customer questions and inquiries. 

Personalization efforts are executed with a goal of creating “high-touch, wonderful experiences for consumers no matter where they are,” Simmons stated. “When we think of personalization it’s often not just about technology. Rather, technology is being stitched together to deliver upon our company objective.”

Simmons and the Design Within Reach team are identifying future investments by considering “how to effectively push pertinent information to consumers’ hands via digital tools,” he said. “Our focus for 2013 will be on implementing multichannel strategies that will help drive traffic to stores, and also ensure consumers have seamless access to web experiences once they are in a location.” 

Party Supplies Delivered Boosts Sales With Product Recommendations

With the variety of product and price options available online seemingly growing by the day, it is vital that merchants utilize compelling messages and relevant item suggestions to drive sales.

Party Supplies Delivered harnesses product recommendations and tailored messages to drive site traffic, as well as cross-sell and upsell opportunities on the e-Commerce site. The eTailer utilizes three services from MyBuys, a cross-channel personalization solution provider: web recommendations, email alerts and retargeting.

Personalization is helping Party Supplies Delivered better understand target customers, and in turn, optimize marketing investments. “By using the whole suite of solutions, we can develop a better profile of our customers,” said Ian MacDonald, VP of e-Commerce and Marketing. “We’re able to not only see how they interact on our site, but with our email, which helps us learn about them and their preferences.”

Consumers who click on web recommendations provided by Party Supplies Delivered purchase items 10% more than other shoppers who visit the site, according to MacDonald. Moreover, consumers touched by two MyBuys services have an average order value (AOV) 47% higher than shoppers who don’t have a personalized experience. Consumers who interacted with three MyBuys services had a 143% higher AOV.

“When you use all these elements together, it pays off big,” MacDonald said. “Consumers who interacted with all aspects had higher conversion rates, average order value and spent more time on the site versus customers who only interacted with one, or none of the initiatives.”

Web recommendations are created based on an individual consumer’s past browsing and buying history. Cross-sells and upsells also are determined and delivered based on data from other shoppers with similar shopping patterns.

If consumers abandon the site, Party Supplies Delivered sends email alerts to re-engage them. Approximately 12% of consumers receive retargeting messages every week, such as cart abandonment reminders, or alerts when specific product categories are on sale. For example, if a shopper browsed St. Patrick’s Day merchandise on a previous visit, they receive notice when themed products are on sale.

“The email alerts help shorten the time to purchase,” MacDonald said. “Customers may delay buying after visiting the site, and the weekly alert reminds them of what they had in their cart or calls their attention to marked-down or new merchandise. That leads them back to buy sooner.”

Similarly, retargeting ads are published to spotlight relevant products and offers, and encourage abandoners to return to the e-Commerce site. The MyBuys platform presents the most effective product recommendations for ads based on shopper history, MacDonald explained. “I simply approve the ad templates,” he said, “which are driven by detailed product attributes most relevant to that unique prospect.”

National Pen Moves To Digital Personalization Strategies

Customized products are a central to the National Pen business. The company offers high-quality, tailored products such as pens, key chains, notepads and magnets, among other items. To better connect with target customers — small- to medium-sized businesses — the company is leveraging more relevant and compelling email marketing campaigns, according to Claudia Lugmair, Online Marketing Manager at National Pen.

Using Responsys Interact, National Pen can segment customers and execute email marketing campaigns in a more automated and seamless way. Within three months of implementing the Responsys system, the merchant executed three automated email campaigns that generated approximately $15,000 in additional revenue.

“The Responsys Interact system has robust functionality that allows us to easily segment our customers by various criteria to make sure we are addressing their needs and interests,” Lugmair said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Additionally, the dynamic content and testing functions “allow us to deliver content to individual customers that are specific to the industry they represent or marketing realities they face.  Our job is to help our customers market and grow their business, which varies greatly depending on whether you work in a dentist office or in the front office of a church.”

National Pen also has tripled open rates since launching an email welcome series. The program, designed for new consumers, is multi-stage and offers a variety of educational and promotional content. 

National Pen is continuing the transition to digital personalization strategies, starting with the web site, Lugmair explained. “Currently, we are tailoring certain areas of the company web site to make the purchase process as fast and seamless for the consumer as possible. This year, a key initiative is to provide each of our customers with a personalized web site experience, by displaying products, images and content that are relevant and keep them engaged.”

When planning marketing campaigns, National Pen is taking a more integrated multichannel approach, Lugmair noted. In addition to email and site personalization, the company will be testing more retargeting via display advertising, and will use data to make social media strategies more relevant for consumers.

The marketing roadmap also includes “more automated emails such as cart abandonment,” Lugmair said. “We anticipate that these automated programs will increase email revenue by 10%.”

Strategies implemented by Design Within Reach, National Pen and Party Supplies Delivered showcase the variety of opportunities retailers have to create more tailored and relevant customer experiences across channels. These case studies spotlight how personalization significantly can impact bottom-line results.

Part 3 Personalization Strategies That Work report will be published in the May 14 newsletter.

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.



Access The Media Kit


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: