IR Comment

Personalisation is nothing without a joined up business

It’s been a good Christmas, on the whole, for UK retailers – except perhaps for Next – and mobile has played an increasing role there in. Amazon has seen sales rocket over the Christmas period and accounted for 38% of all online sales: and nearly three quarters of them were on mobile.

Similarly, M&S [IRDX RMAS], Tesco [IRDX RTES], Primark and Debenhams [IRDX RDEB] all performed well thanks to online sales and again cite mobile as a hugely contributory factor.

While Amazon [IRDX RAMZ] has invested heavily in its mobile experience and, one could argue, Amazon is actually much better on a handheld device than a computer, the leading UK retailers cited mobile for a different reason: personalisation.

And this is interesting because that is going to be the key battle ground for online and bricks and mortar retailers in 2017. It is even more interesting when you consider that most retailers are currently doing it really badly.

Don’t be thrown off by the headlines however: mobile is central to this personalisation revolution. Retailers need to reach out and touch each customer individually and make them feel special. As the run up to this bumper Christmas in 2016, many of the most successful retailers used amusing and timely marketing to virally market what they were offering for the festivities. Tying it together with traditional advertising campaigns online and on mainstream media channels also helped tie this together.

However, these are the exceptions today rather than the rule. According to research by HSO most retailers are doing the first bit but are failing to be able to realise what they promise in their promotions. While the retailers are pushing out personal and timely offers to mobile users, they are often failing to have the stock in place to service demand. This makes for a woeful and negative customer experience – and one that takes what should be a nice personalised engagement with a loyal customer into the realms of actively alienating the very people who keep your business alive.

Of course, this has nothing directly to do with mobile, but more to do with joining up business process, but it illustrates the true challenge that retailers face in 2017. Personalisation is the trend du jour for 2017, but what retailers really need to get on top of is how to make all elements of their business talk to each other. The business shouldn’t be led by the marketing department, but what the marketing department does has to be aligned with what is going on in warehousing, distribution and purchasing. Marketing needs to be tactical rather than strategic.

This is the only way that personalisation will work for retailers and make Christmas 2017 even better than the one just gone.

Mentioned in this piece…

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer


Marks and Spencer is a major UK-based retail chain of large stores and convenience outlets for groceries and fashion. (more…)




Tessuti has stores in Chester, Liverpool, The Trafford Centre, The Metro Centre, Meadowhall, Canary Wharf and Bluewater Shopping Centre. Tessuti is always on the look out to expand its portfolio. (more…)




Debenhams is a multinational retailer operating under a department store format in the United Kingdom and Ireland with franchise stores in other countries. (more…)




Amazon is a market-leading eTailer with global reach and a broad array of product types. (more…)

One thought on “Personalisation is nothing without a joined up business

  1. Not sure I agree with this headline. It’s about knowing where to start and understanding what personalisation really means. Too many retailers see personalisation as the cherry on the top or the marketing team’s new toy (without instructions).

    Of course mobile is important (as a vehicle), however it’s relevant data regarding your customers that’s key. I support sentiment joining the right dots (particularly location based inventory data) will deliver exponential business performance and optimise effectiveness of personalisation. However suggesting it’s nothing without being joined up is grossly inaccurate, certainly for fashion.

    By example, HOLM increased a womenswear retailer’s average Saturday store turnover by 150% on a single day… without any integration whatsoever.

    The customer is the critical end of the chain and therefore where to start. Get to know the ‘person’ quickly and use the data correctly. Retailers who do so, will grow market share and protect margin from the outset, creating a treasury that enables investment in more expensive integrations.

    The management skill is then sequencing the right dots to join up and executing smooth transitions. With the right personalisation tools, this is made so much easier.

Comments are closed.