Fingers on keyboard 2-970-80This year, customer experience management will be mostly focused on customer personas, rather than portfolios. It is increasingly critical for retailers to innovate in terms of customer experience to keep shoppers engaged. Only by serving the changing needs, preferences and behaviour of the customer, will retailers and brands be able to meet today's hyper-connected consumers on their terms, across all channels of interaction.

Over the course of last year, we saw a spike in customer expectations for bespoke personalisation across all brand interactions. Sephora's Beauty Insider loyalty programme allows shoppers to save "loves" and purchases (both online and in-store) in a Beauty Bag, and also leverages a shopper's profile to link specific customer attributes (such as skin tone) with products for sale within the store. Information is accessible across devices – even on iPads at store counters. By providing relevant, accurate services in exchange for customer data, Sephora is paving the way in persona-driven customer innovations.

Real-time interaction with customers across omni-channel platforms signified another key milestone last year. Retailers can use information from online buying behaviour to serve customers at the point of sale based on the relevant input he or she needs. This closes the gap between online and physical shopping experiences that previously created headaches for a lot of retail brands.

Customers want this, too, because they can get better offers and more tailored recommendations to what they want, when they want it. We currently partner with retailers to deliver what we call "Relevance in Store." By combining customer data gathered online and in-store, retailers can deliver a customer experience centred on value and convenience in exchange for customer information, and enabled by new apps and mobile technologies such as iBeacon.

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