Personalisation, Personalisation, Personalisation


There’s been a lot of talk recently about digitisation of in store experiences. You may have read my last blog about the Kroger/Microsoft partnership that aims to take stores into the digital age.  Whilst many bricks and mortar retailers have come under threat (HMV springs to mind), others have found opportunities to evolve by providing high quality online to offline experiences, which ultimately helps to keep the store thriving.

But, what about the other way around? Can e-commerce learn anything from bricks and mortar shops?


The online world has much to learn from personalised shopping experiences. Traditionally, personal shopping has been confined to the store – where stylists are able to consult with shoppers in order to determine their personal style, combine it with their keen eye for what may suit them, and then make very informed product recommendations.  

It’s perhaps much harder to imagine the same level of service being offered online. Particularly when it seems to rely on human interaction. However, many online retailers have been imitating this type of service for some time in the form of personalised product recommendations. And for those doing it well, it’s an incredibly effective form of onsite marketing. It takes the coldness out of online shopping, notably for retail sites that contain thousands of products, making shopping experiences much easier, relevant, and more enjoyable.

The most popular way of doing this seems to be analysing the types of products a user has previously purchased or added to their wishlist or cart. Through an understanding of shopping behaviour, brands can then offer very relevant product recommendations. An example of this can be seen below by ASOS:

However, I recently came across a very impressive example of this, devised by Topshop. Here, they don’t solely rely on gathering user data and monitoring signals. Instead, they put the power back into the hands of the user. Just like in a real personal shopping experience, they begin by asking the user their opinion in the form of a quiz.

Users are asked everything from their age, style icon, words to describe their style, colours they won’t wear, parts of their body they want to cover and more! The whole process was very intuitive, quick and easy, but still thorough.

This results in very relevant person recommendations based on your choices. This includes your style profile, product picks and the option to view outfit suggestions! This is a great way to encourage upsells and boosted AOVs. And compared to other sites I’ve used, I generally find that their recommendations are on point – no doubt I’ll be using this section to make future purchases!

This type of strategy is not all about simply generating sales or revenue. It’s about having a truly customer-centric approach. As marketers, we shouldn’t always be thinking about the hard sell. Instead, we should consider what appeals to us as a consumer. What would make our lives easier, more interesting and improve our shopping experiences?  This ethos should be applied to all of our marketing channels, in order to build real and long lasting relationships with our consumer base.

About the author

Sarah Barker
Sarah Barker

I've worked within digital marketing agencies for 4+ years, across a variety of different verticals. But without a doubt, I'm particularly passionate about retail.

My current role as Head of Biddable Media Strategy not only means that I stay on top of the latest news, but also ensures I'm continually developing new best practice and biddable media plans.

So it seemed incredibly fitting for me to start my own retail marketing blog. Not just to cover industry updates, but to include thoughts from my own experience to help get others thinking and talking about all things retail!

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Sarah Barker By Sarah Barker