April 27th, 2016 | 5 MIN READ

The Case for Extreme Personalization

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

book-cover_resized_to_300x178Extreme personalization, sometimes referred to as marketing to a customer segment of one, is the holy grail of the multi-channel world.

Extreme personalization comes down to one simple reality: customers expect your company to know who they are -- no matter what method or touchpoint they are using. Instore, online, through Facebook or on a phone, customers want to receive a consistent, high-quality experience from your brand.

The challenge is that to get to extreme personalization, marketers must have what they need to reach out directly to a real individual, rather than a general marketing persona. Today, most commerce systems remain siloed. Point of sale systems in-store are not connected to online catalogues or carts. Nor are they connected to a customer profile. Mobile apps don’t always aggregate information for use in the back office. Pricing, billing and fulfillment systems are duplicated for different channels.

Multiple channels and continuously evolving touchpoints have made CRM systems hard to keep up to date if they haven’t actually become irrelevant.

For customers, the silos result in uneven cross-brand experiences. The gap between the in-store and online experience is cavernous. What’s bad for customers is bad internally too. The silos mean that sales, billing and fulfillment staff can’t readily access a clear, unified picture of each individual customer.

The ebook Extreme Personalization: Merchandising in an Omnichannel World describes seven new merchandising practices across all four “p’s” of marketing: product, place, price and promotion. Many of these use-case scenarios come from our experience working with customers to help them in their quest for extreme personalization.

Here’s an example of just one of the seven new merchandising topics the ebook describes:

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 2.59.05 PMProduct Customization

Product customization based on selling context, customer preference and available options will become pervasive. Making this possible across multi-channels requires a commerce platform that accesses pricing and products from a central catalogue, governed by adjustable rules that do not require intervention by an IT professional. Unfortunately, most merchandisers are still not in the driver’s seat.

Dynamic Bundling: Unlimited Product and Partner Possibilities Online

When people buy more than one item in a “bundle”, usually they are selecting complementary products. In the movie industry for example, some outlets allow customers to download or stream movies and at the same time, offer merchandise related to the move. So when sixteen-year-old Cody wants to watch the next Spiderman film, he can purchase the download and at the same time buy the t-shirt and the full set of Spidey films.

In the telecommunications industry, people can select phone model, plan type including calls and data and other add-ons – all of which are interdependent. The e-commerce platform can handle all of these complexities and more. As customers build their bundle, the system can respond dynamically to offer product recommendations based on what is in their basket.

While we might tend to think about certain industries for dynamic recommendations, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of marketing. A cruise line for example, could offer customers who are ready to check out purchasing a cruise in the Mediterranean, many other items besides standard drink packages, excursions and insurance. Why not include lessons in Italian or Greek, eBooks on the history of cities on the itinerary, and any number of complimentary offerings. Partner with other organizations to make your offering a rich, comprehensive experience for your clients.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.21.13 AMIn-Store

In-store dynamic bundling takes place for certain products as well. For example, when a sales associate helps a customer select a particular gaming platform, then a number of games are automatically available for use on that platform. The sales associate allows the customer to choose two of those games for a discounted price as part of a package deal. This process can be automated using RFID tags on products and POS scanners that identify deals for customers as they place items in their “cart.”


Dynamic bundling allows customers to choose from a greater number of options without encountering compatibility conflicts. This ensures that orders will not be incorrect and that customers are still able to customize their selections.

The above is just one of the 7 ways you can move your company towards “extreme personalization” if you adopt a technology platform that makes ‘where’ customer information comes from irrelevant. Here are some of the rewards:

Less Churn, Higher-Value Customers

Regardless of industry, customers don’t see channels, they only see your brand. Brand-aware companies strive to build lifetime customer relationships for mutual benefit. Deliver excellent service, great products and convenience that competitors are just not capable of and you will gain and retain customers. Consistency of message, pricing and promotion across multiple channels is imperative to brand value.

No matter what industry you work in, high churn rates inevitably impact the bottom line in a negative direction. When you cultivate high-value customers, your company will need to worry less about acquiring new clientele by reducing churn.

A Trusted Brand and More Predictable Revenue

Increase customer retention across all channels, and your company will be in a better position to predict revenue. Not only will this improve your organization’s ability to manage cash, but also it will help you gain an upper-hand in supplier negotiations. And, investors will be more likely to trust your brand with their capital when your balance sheet performs well every quarter and every year. Year after year.

To read about the six other merchandizing techniques you can use to get to extreme personalization, download the ebook, Extreme Personalization: Merchandizing in a Multi-Channel World.


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