The cosmetics retailer ranked No. 1 in Sailthru’s third-annual Personalization Index thanks to its focus on personalization-driven emails and revamped loyalty program.

Cosmetics retailer Sephora scored the top rank for the third year in a row in Sailthru’s third annual Retail Personalization Index. The index ranks retail brands according to how well they use data to personalize and connect the customer experience across email, ecommerce sites and mobile apps.

Sailthru, which uses personalization to help brands with marketing, evaluated 250 retailers across a wide set of attributes and combined the scores along with the results of a survey of more than 1,500 U.S. and U.K. consumers to determine the 100 retailers it featured in the Personalization Index.

Sephora, owned by LVMH (No. 20 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000), scored the top spot because of its personalized emails, Beauty Insider loyalty program and in-store technology, such as Color IQ, which scans customers’ skin to help them determine the right foundations, concealers and lipsticks for their skin color. Shoppers’ Beauty Insider profiles are unified across, its mobile app and can be accessed in store, personalizing consumers’ shopping experiences, no matter their entry point.

The cosmetics retailer updated its Beauty Insider program earlier this year, with three tiers in its loyalty program, each with increasing benefits based on yearly spending: Insider (a free program), VIB (if you spend at least $350) and Rouge (if you spend $1,000 or more). The higher the level, the more free products shoppers receive, the more reward options shoppers have to choose from and the more points shoppers earn per dollar. Points are redeemable for products, product sets or in-store experiences, such as makeovers.

The two top tiers now offer shoppers more options for their free birthday gift, as well as allow those shoppers to select which benefits they receive. For example, a shopper in the top “Rouge” tier can choose between free two-day shipping, 750 free points or full-face makeovers experiences with four friends. Shoppers in the second tier also have three similar options to choose from.

The revamped program aims to make the program more personalized to each shopper, says Allegra Stanley, vice president of loyalty for Sephora. The updated program is meant to benefit consumers who are already in the program and “show appreciation for its most loyal clients” by offering more options and perks, Stanley says.

The other top retailers in the Personalization Index include:

  1. Sephora
  2. Nordstrom
  3. Rent the Runway
  4. Home Depot
  5. Best Buy
  6. DSW
  7. Ulta Beauty
  8. Urban Outfitters
  9. Adidas
  10. Wayfair

Nordstrom jumped six spots from last year’s Personalization Index to second place thanks to its product filtering options and updated recommendation engine that provides “more looks for you” suggestions, along with personalized emails that include a shopper’s Nordy Club information and other product recommendations. The department store chain also revamped its mobile app, offering “store mode” that allows shoppers to locate nearby stores, book an appointment with a personal shopper, scan and shop in store, manage their Nordy Club reward and check in-store and online inventory.


Walmart placed 25, thanks to its 2018 redesigned website that focused heavily on personalization. The redesigned homepage shows a curated selection of items that a shopper recently ordered, features a “trending near” element that gives a shopper insight into popular items in her city and information about her recent online orders, such as shipping status.

Interestingly, placed 57 on the Index, largely because of its non-personalized emails, which many of the higher-ranking retailers excel at. But the ecommerce giant still features robust product recommendations, customized push notifications for order statuses and recommendations and an “outfit compare” function on its mobile app.

“Customers are highly engaged on mobile and email, not just on site and in store. The brands that performed best…deliver deep personalization on individual channels. And they deliver experiences between channels that keep customers coming back,” says Jason Grunberg, vice president of marketing at Sailthru. “Today, the customer controls their shopping experience, and that’s why their feedback drives this research.”