Report: Sephora Tops 2021 Retail Personalization Index for 4th Straight Year
The results are in for this year’s Retail Personalization Index (RPI), and Sephora earned top marks for the fourth year in a row. The RPI uses a 5,000 strong consumer survey to determine the most important elements of personalized customer experience across the web, email, mobile, other digital channels and in stores. Sailthru’s research team then evaluated more than 250 brands across these channels to determine how well personalized, orchestrated and integrated the customer experience is. Important this year were new fulfillment options like curbside pickup and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), as well as the delivery and returns experience. Perennial criteria categories like personalized messaging that carry across channels and data-driven messaging based on recent behavior also factor in heavily to the final score.
This time around, Sephora scored 89 points out of a possible 100, with high marks across the board, especially for its website, email, and mobile personalization, which is well integrated with a robust loyalty program and personalized shopping and marketing experiences.
Sailthru was impressed with the highly integrated, data-driven experiences that it saw across many brands, and it paid off in 2020. With millions more shoppers moving online, the ability to deliver curbside pickup helped companies like Bloomingdale’s capture conversions, while a great mobile app helped brands like Thrive Market capture new online grocery demand. In fact, home and fashion companies in general scored very well across different retail categories, helping these brands capture a surge in demand for home care and self-care during the pandemic.
The report also highlights what several top-10 scoring retail brands were able to pull off in a year of strained circumstances — great customer experiences despite major in-store limitations. Although about half of the top-10 scoring retailers are heavily reliant on their store footprints, they were all able to thrive online because of great multichannel experiences.
Coming in at No. 3, Best Buy, has one of the best personalized websites, while No. 4, Bloomingdale’s, offers one of the top mobile experiences. Nordstrom, The Home Depot, and Office Depot & Office Max also landed in the top ten above many direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) brands. However, many digital-first companies also thrived in 2020. Food52, which placed 31 on the RPI, doubled its revenue in 2020 through the use of personalization to recommend relevant products and content.
These brick-and-mortar heroes of personalized retail show that investing in digital channels over the past few years was the right move to make. Now that shopping behavior has accelerated online, these winners will be best set up to keep their customers engaged through reopenings in 2021 and 2022.
The RPI ranks the top 100 scoring brands from the total study and provides additional context for what retailers experienced in the past year and what it means for the coming months as consumers decide what online shopping habits they plan to keep, and how those habits will be incorporated into their new store preferences as well. From in-store concierge services to augmented reality and BOPIS, in-store retail will see its own surge in new consumer preferences. The brands with a commitment to data-driven customer experience will be best positioned to provide great new experiences that integrate well with what customers already demand online.
Monica Deretich is the lead retail advisor for Sailthru, a marketing automation platform that helps retailers engage their customers with personalized experiences across email, mobile, and web.