Last week I received an email from Etsy with recommendations based on my recent purchase and browsing history. It was promoting a toddler t-shirt with a picture of a bearded man that read, “I have a fuzzy daddy.” It looked exactly like my husband, so obviously, my daughter had to have it.

This got me wondering – how often am I making purchases based on recommendations from retailers? The answer: probably way more than I realize.

As it turns out, not only does personalization benefit retail brands by improving sales, but today’s consumers demand it. According to a 2016 Accenture report, 75 percent of consumers were more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name and recommends options based on past purchases. And TimeTrade suggests that U.S. retail stores that failed to personalize left $150 billion in potential revenue on the table in 2016.

So what makes a good personalization experience? And am I a sucker for buying what a retailer serves up – or have I been asking for it all along?

Get Personal
I’ll admit it. I want what I want, when I want it. This is the curse of the digital native generation and is made possible by our 24/7 global, connected, commerce network.

I can hail a car service from my mobile device, order my favorite pizza from Alexa, and receive proactive notifications from my doctor so I never miss an appointment. So why shouldn’t I expect my favorite brands to act like my personal fashion and lifestyle consultants?

Despite the research that supports this mindset, most retailers haven’t yet figured out true personalization. Sure, we want recommendations on what to buy based on what we already own or have on our “wish lists.”

But personalization goes beyond the material products. It also means providing a personalized (and consistent) experience across all interaction channels – this includes the physical store, digital devices, text/SMS, and yes, even when I call or chat with customer support.

When we really think about this, it’s game-changing. Retailers are no longer just competing with other retailers, they’re now competing with every retail experience a consumer has. Misstep during even one of those interactions and your consumer base is off and looking for the next retail brand that gives them what they want.

Help Me, Help You

For every retailer shutting down or scaling back right now, there’s another one that’s investing in true personalization strategies. For example, retailers are using technology to push personalized promotions to shoppers’ phones as soon as they walk in the door.

Arming retail associates with mobile tools can serve up a slew of data – on the customer, inventory and upcoming promotions – allowing brands to provide in-person, in-the-moment, personalized attention. From digital “concierge” screens in dressing rooms to sale alerts that pop up on your phone, technology is driving personalization across every channel.

As it turns out, the more that consumers interact with brands, the better and more personalized the interactions can be. This in turn builds loyalty and trust, leading to even more information exchange. When done right, it’s a circular, jointly beneficial relationship.

Not unlike building any new relationship, we quickly learn that the more we share, the better the other party knows us – what we have historically liked, how we communicate and what we might want tomorrow. Etsy, for one, is getting it right. At least in my case, Etsy was able to take the data they have and serve up a highly personalized suggestion, which I immediately bought into.

So, yes, we’re suckers, but we’re suckers for a deeper relationship and a truer connection. And, isn’t this what retailers want too?