A few weeks ago, I was at the True Religion store in San Francisco with John Hazen, Senior Vice President of Direct to Consumer at True Religion Brand Jeans (TRBJ), putting their in-store personalization and clienteling experience to the test. I was impressed by the personalization and customer detail in their clienteling app but wanted to see if that experience would be consistent in another TRBJ store.

After all, what good is personalization if you have to repeat your preferences, and identify yourself, each time you patronize a different location?

My goal was to gather more qualitative information by visiting other stores, so last week I visited the True Religion outlet store at the Merrimack Premium Outlets in New Hampshire. I ended up learning about that – and much more – by the time I left the store.

As I walked into the store, I was greeted by a friendly “hello and welcome” by an associate standing at the far end of store. Even though I couldn’t see her, with all the merchandise blocking/distracting me, she was quick to notice that someone had entered and shouted out a quick greeting.

I inquired about a particular item from the Russell Westbrook Collection that I saw in the San Francisco store. The conversation that followed gave me some insights into TRBJ’s merchandising strategy. The associate explained to me, in detail, how the merchandise selection differs between a full-price store and outlets. I walked away from that conversation with a clear understanding of what I could expect from this store – and I adjusted my expectations accordingly. I quickly switched tracks that started looking for a different item.

So, here’s what I learned – that personalization in-store takes a lot more than just technology. Personalization technology is an enabler for delivering personalized service in-store but without a fully-enabled, informed associate, technology will not be fully effective. I was amazed by how knowledgeable the store associates were – and how they were able to influence my preferences and nudge me in a different direction.

Once my “shopping cart” was ready, I walked over to the counter. The clienteling application I blogged about last time sprung into action. After I provided my name, she located my profile and shopping history. Perhaps because of the assortment differences between the stores, we didn’t get into personalizing my shopping experience based on my previous orders. In this case, even though the assortments were different, personalization as an in-store experience remained consistent with my previous experience at the other store.

And that’s where retail is headed. Regardless of whether you’re shopping online or in-store, San Francisco or New Hampshire, a brand knows your purchase history and, hopefully, your preferences to give you the most relevant, engaging experience possible.

Read more about how Commerce Cloud Einstein uses cutting edge data science to uncover customer insights and deliver personalized shopping experiences.