The influence of preferences, curation and relevance on the Customer Journey

My husband and I are very different shoppers. Whether in a department store or looking at new cars, he wants his phone to be his digital assistant while I’m scanning for an available salesperson.

He avoids ‘the approach’ of a human, preferring to compare products or check prices on the brand’s mobile site or app. He studies up on what he needs in the physical location. He wants to be left alone, until he doesn’t want to be left alone … and then he wants help right away.

I’m the opposite. I prefer to be greeted upfront. I like it when someone is there at the store entrance asking what I need help with today and directing me to the right aisle. If a salesperson is not available, I’m the customer dialling the toll-free number before menu-hopping across the mobile website to look for store FAQs, which may or may not exist, because, for me, it’s the faster and friendlier way to go. Then I take my time making an informed decision in the store.

But whether it’s his digital-first, in-location shopping preference or my human-centric approach, we both have one thing in common: the desire for a simple and yet personalised purchase experience, with ourselves at master control.


Delivering a 1:You personalised communications strategy allows my husband and I to achieve our own shopping missions, our own ways. But how do you accomplish that in-store?

Location-based marketing technologies make it easier to identify opt-in mobile app users as they enter the drive-through, walk into a car dealership or depart a bank branch. Near field messaging can send contextual 1-way or 2-way greetings to customers asking what they need assistance with today while supplying relevant offers and preventing frustration in real-time.

Guest recognition systems are able to notify a store manager when VIP customers have entered a location, accurately detect movement dynamics and determine the length of visit. 1:You is what marketers strive to achieve. 

The Great Divide 

The Alliance Data Analytics & Insights Institute recently published a consumer study comparing what brands believe customer needs are with their actual beliefs on the brand experience.

This study, The Great Divide, found that the challenges consumers expect brands to solve are changing. For example, consumers rated simplicity as their most important need (out of thirty-one studied), and it was determined that brands significantly under-deliver on simplifying the shopping experience.

Personalisation was important to consumers, but recommendations based on past history were deemed less critical than customer desire to have power over the content, frequency and type of communications they receive.

To ensure you’re personalising communications to your customers and meeting their expectations, consider the role of preferences, curation and relevance.

Customer preferences in retail

Let’s further explore.


Today’s preference centres’ data capture options quench the essential customer thirst for the power to reduce the noise. New technologies supporting sales, the call centre and mobile app provide customers with the ability to establish their preferences in overt, covert and ‘self-teaching’ ways that define experiences while filtering the unbidden.


At the nexus of personalisation and control is the concept of curation. For example, Macy’s new Story boutiques curate commerce to focus on tailoring selection and providing more customer sovereignty over the number of items they're able to view at one given time.

As customers, we want as much control over our buying experiences as we do adjusting our iPhone settings. My orthodontist offers thirteen different coloured elastics to select from while my colleague’s dentist sends a text the day before each appointment asking what flavour surgical gloves he wants (bubblegum, always bubblegum, he tells me).

According to The Great Divide, offering in-the-moment choice control is rated above the use of name greetings or referencing purchase history when it comes to getting personal.


Where personalisation meets simplicity is the expectation of relevance.

Greeting a customer – whether digitally via in-app SMS or in person – when they approach or enter a shop is a key purchase journey moment.

According to iVend Retail’s Global Shopper Trends Report 2019, customers prefer to receive communications at these pivotal points of decision (with geolocation targeting being a key mechanism to deliver assistance in context).

Unique offers, ratings and reviews, and loyalty reminders are especially relevant when localised to a shop visit. 

In summary, customers want brands to save them time and make shopping more convenient. New technologies that offer a fun and enjoyable experience while making life easier is what matters most. Click to Tweet

So while my husband and I may enter a shop together, our in-location journeys are very different; regardless, when we each achieve our missions, our preferred personalised way, our passion towards the brand is enhanced.

Want to talk more about personalised retail experiences for your customers? Get in touch at today.