Personalization and the future of retail: Knowing your taste better than you know yourself


One of my recent series of interviews on the future on the Morning Show was on the future of retail and shopping.

Click on the image to see a video of the segment:


One of the examples I gave is of Trunk Club, which regularly sends a trunk of clothes to its male customers. They can pick anything they like in the trunk, and ship the rest back free of charge.

Stylists select clothes to fit the initial profile they have of the customer. Every time the customer chooses some clothes from the trunk and sends others back, Trunk Club improves its understanding of its customer’s taste, to the point where customers want to buy everything that is sent to them.

Personalization is central to the future of retail, both in online and in physical stores. However true personalization requires a relationship, in which your customers are happy, nay eager, for you to learn more about them.

Most men are delighted to be able to avoid going to stores, where part of what they hate is being overwhelmed by the massive choice. If someone can help them discover what they like without even leaving home, it’s a godsend.

As I note in the TV interview, I cannot predict whether today’s retailers will survive. It depends completely on how well they respond to the challenges and opportunities of arising from massive change in the retail industry.

Physical stores have a fabulous opportunity to build the relationships that are necessary for immense personalization. Unless they seize that opportunity the shift to online buying will accelerate.

  • Natasha Rawlings – StreetHawk

    I think if bricks-and-mortar retailers seize the data opportunity and use technology to better make sales in-store via personalisation they will be in a stronger position that online retailers (who, let’s face it, probably know their customers better than those ones who see their customers most days). Amazon s now getting scared by the likes of Walmart who is snatching sales back with their use of data in-store. A solution like ours which uses data to contact shoppers when they’re around stores with personalised messages is part of the retail revolution. But whether most bricks and mortar retailers survive the new age is uncertain.

    • Absolutely, personalization is not just for online, but it does require quite a different mindset from physical retailers to go down that path…