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Do fashion retailers lack the skills for true personalisation?

Personalisation might be the big focus in retail at the moment, but do fashion retailers lack the in-house skills to really capitalise on it?

This was what Drapers’ recent Personalisation Report 2016 found, published in association with Monetate. We surveyed nearly 200 retailers about their personalisation strategies, and when asked if their teams had the required skills to implement them, 39% said they did not.

A worrying statistic, but then similarly when we asked what the biggest barriers were to personalisation overall, 33% cited no human resource to implement, and 26% said there was a lack of knowledge on personalisation strategy/tactics. Drilling down further, when we asked which skills were missing from the organisation, 54% said ‘technical skills to integrate personalisation technology into existing technology stack’, while 49% said ‘functional skills to implement strategy’.

These challenges were echoed at our recent roundtable event, attended by retailers such as Harrods, New Look and Louis Vuitton.

The demand for change might currently be outpacing retailers ability to service it. The study shows that retailers are adapting internally, with ecommerce teams increasingly in the driving seat. However, the attendees at our roundtable said for the strategy to be successful, the chief executive has to be behind it, rather than it necessarily falling to one team.

To read more about personalisation and to see our exclusive retailer survey, click here

Readers' comments (1)

  • Personalisation, along with inventory control are the two most important areas for fashion retailers that want to survive. Done well, they will improve margins and compete with the best.

    My own business is about to prove that integrating with existing technology stacks, is a red herring. Yes, data is key but not all of it! It's more about connecting the relevant dots and executing well (in front of the customer). It's about implementing the right new technologies.

    The comment regarding CEOs involvement is 100% accurate. It's such a key strategic decision and if done right, the competitive advantage will be pivotal. If done wrong, a lot of time and money will be lost - by which time it will be too late to recover (by example, M&S is currently heading this way).

    Based on my research (more than 10,000 hrs of 1:1 shopper feedback), neither will e-commerce driven personalisation strategies be the ultimate winner.

    Cristina Holm, Director (

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