Getting Personal: Retailers Use New Tech to Court Individual Shoppers

“Personalized shopping” has long been the guiding light for retailers. But in the age of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), traditional stores have been searching for the best way to digitize what was once a person-to-person process.

“Internet shopping is now across mobile and Web, and now, the [question] is, ‘How do we create great experiences for everyone?’” says Drew Giovannoli, product marketing manager at Bazaarvoice, an Austin, TX-based maker of e-commerce software.

Personalized service once meant a salesperson remembered customers’ favorite colors or would call to let them know about upcoming sales. But dialing shoppers one at a time is somewhat inefficient compared to today’s technology tools, which help some retailers provide that kind of service on a much larger scale, Giovannoli says. “The goal is to scale to everyone, connecting them with exactly what they’re looking for,” he adds.

Recently, Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom announced it had purchased two startups that focus on customer experience. BevyUp makes a tool that can be used by salespeople so they can offer style advice to customers, in effect recreating online the sorts of offline conversations customers might have with store employees.

The second acquisition, MessageYes, will enable Nordstrom to send customers personalized text messages aimed at getting them to make purchases with just a few taps on their smartphones. “Personalized shopping has long been our focus, and it’s something that’s been core to Nordstrom since they were founded back in 1901,” Dave Cotter, founder and CEO of MessageYes, said in a press release. “Nordstrom has succeeded in building emotional relationships with their customers—creating connections that go well beyond a transaction.”

Other retailers are also acquiring innovative technologies. For example, retail giant Walmart (NYSE: WMThas been an active buyer of startup technologies it sees as key to its … Next Page »

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