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03/03/2021

Sephora keeps top spot for personal experience

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A familiar name is ranked number one in the fourth annual Retail Personalization Index.

Beauty retailer Sephora claimed the top spot in the 2020 version of the Index, compiled by marketing automation platform Sailthru, for the fourth straight year. Sephora increased its score to 89 points out of a possible 100, up from 79 points in the 2019 Index, thanks to its focus on omnichannel personalization, user engagement and new ways to provide personalized shopping experiences at home. 

Thrive Market and Best Buy placed second and third, respectively. Thrive Market doubled down on its omnichannel digital model, with well-orchestrated customer experiences

As big movers, Fabletics (No. 5) and eBay (part of a four-way tie for No. 8 with Home Depot, Office Depot/OfficeMax, and JustFab) were part of the top 10 performers, along with Bloomingdales (No. 4), Adidas (No. 6) and Nordstrom (No. 7). Brick-and-mortar stores with a strong online presence, such as American Eagle (tied with Nike at No. 18), performed well even as in-person shopping was limited during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Respondents to a Sailthru consumer survey were most likely to say that they shopped on their mobile phones more than before, at nearly 50%. Notably, nearly one in three (31%) consumers bought something online for curbside pickup, while 25% said they were more likely to open email from retailers now.

The Retail Personalization Index uncovered these additional trends:

● Consumers thrived at home: Home improvement brands had the highest average Index score of any category, driven primarily by strong mobile scores, with an overall increase in home improvement spending in 2020.

● Shoppers chose omnichannel brands: The brands that fared best focused on an omnichannel strategy. Particularly, mobile shoppers drove preference for the newly needed omni-commerce capability. 

● Brick-and-mortar stores emerged as online heroes: Online-first or e-commerce retailers were not that much more likely to have better site personalization than retailers with brick-and-mortar stores, which helped earn these brands top spots. However, e-commerce retailers stood out the most on mobile personalization, proving as an opportunity area for brick-and-mortar innovation.

“Brands at the top of this year’s Index, even those with significant brick-and-mortar investments, are financially successful because they operate at the speed of the customer, compared to many other organizations that have been challenged by a lack of agility,” said Jason Grunberg, chief marketing officer at Sailthru parent company CM Group. “Organizations with a focus on experience transformation across channels had the ability to thrive as consumers accelerated digital and mobile usage, and will be the first to test new approaches as people return their focus to in-store shopping.”

Sailthru analyzed and experienced the marketing capabilities of more than 260 retailers, paired with a 5,000-person consumer survey. Download the Retail Personalization Index here