the new BLACK

6 months ago • 5 minutes read

5 retail and home design companies who have nailed the evolution from customisation to personalisation.

Wanted: Tired, renovating 30 something, seeks genuine connection with home furnishing retailer, in order to end the fruitless hunt for the perfect sofa. 

What is personalization in retail?

According to Ted Vrountas at Instapage, ‘Personalization in retail is the process of using personal data to provide tailored experiences to shoppers of products in a retail environment. Every path to purchase is different, and, personalization in retail aims to serve each individual based on their needs and behaviours’. 

Some companies are better at this than others. Airbnb are champions at personalisation. The app monitors the user’s trips, travelling preferences and plans, and uses that information to offer the utmost personalised experience. Basically, it tries to match these preferences with accommodations which it thinks would suit the user best. But it’s not just about finding accommodation. Airbnb also offers personalised tips for things like restaurants, clubs, places to see, tourist attractions and so forth. If you’re a sports fan, Airbnb might recommend a sport museum, instead of tickets for a concert.

Mallzee is a Europe-based shopping app, which utilises the Tinder interface for shopping. Instead of swiping left or right for another human being, Mallzee users are utilising that same popular gesture for various pieces of clothing. The app collects mountains of data on user preferences (favourite brands, colours, style, things like that), and then sends unique suggestions on what it believes users would enjoy wearing. It also keeps in mind that price might be a factor, notifying users when certain articles go on a discount, or drop in price.

Customisation has long been a service offered by major home furnishing retailers, if you’re prepared to pay big dollars and wait for delivery, you can pretty much get exactly what you want. However, for many home renovators this service is simply out of reach or not practical. Personalisation is the evolution of customisation.

We know that frustration comes with trying to communicate with a bot on a website, so a human customer experience is ultimately preferred, however face-to-face interactions instore also have their limitations, with bricks and mortar stores often failing to provide the number of product options, detailed product knowledge or even adequate samples. 

So how do home design retailers close the gap between online and instore experiences? Research suggests maximising the ‘pre-shopping phase’ is essential. Instagram retailers have understood this notion for a long time. Building brand and product awareness overtime and developing a genuine connection with their followers allows for the conversion of their posts and advertising into customer sales.  This personalisation is not easy for major retailers to achieve. 

Retailers traditionally rely on the customer visiting their website or dropping in store to view their products. You might come across a chat bot or two, offering up help. This kind of research and preparation before shopping is a major drag for busy home renovators who often need a solution for a cheaper price or non-standard space. 

Browsing a company websites can suck a big chunk of time away from the customer and they can often feel deflated and have a negative experience. Customers have relayed that they have wasted whole weekends instore searching for a specific product and it’s even worse if they have to drag the kids along. What’s more, most of these potential customers have left a ‘pre-shopping breadcrumb trail’ of personal data behind them, which home design retailers are not yet utilising to their full potential. 

HomeHustle encourages their followers to upload a renovation ’Product brief’ or ‘Wishlist’ onto the platform, so that retailers may be alerted to these sales opportunities and respond by starting a pre-shopping conversation with potential customers.  Imagine if retailers already knew the budget, style preference and technical specifications of a project before they made their pitch. Wouldn’t that be a game changer?  This goes beyond personalisation, it’s personal service. 

StyleSourceBook offers interior designers and home design retailers a personalised approach to developing mood boards for an upcoming renovation project. Major retailers have linked to the site and can showcase their products to the community. 

Of course, Pinterest is the ultimate home design app with incredible personalisation. The Pinterest community engages with this platform to plan and design their spaces. The users are then elegantly presented with advertising so beautifully personalised it hurts. This highlights the importance of the pre-shopping phase and converts into some serious dollars in sales. 


For further information of Personalisation in the Retail sector I recommend Ted Vrountas’ blog.