Macy's Herald Square New York Flagship

How Macy’s is growing brand love and customer loyalty with personalization at scale

Macy’s, one of the world’s largest and most iconic department stores, has a goal: to increase revenue and brand loyalty through personalized customer experiences and communications across channels — one customer at a time.

“Personalization isn’t new,” says Bennett Fox-Glassman, senior vice president of customer journey at Macy's. “What’s new is our approach to achieving one-to-one personalization at scale across multiple channels. With immediate insights into what customers shop for, we can deliver tailored offers, personalized digital and app experiences, and highly relevant communications. These perfectly timed experiences foster profitable growth, brand love, and loyalty.”

Starting in 2022, Fox-Glassman spearheaded Macy’s latest customer journey transformation. The effort included expanding its use of Adobe technology and creating new teams and ways of working to position the business for success.

Setting goals, identifying use cases

Macy’s wanted to build upon its relevancy with customers. Its well-publicized, one-day sales events are great at generating revenue but less so at building customer loyalty and passion for the brand. Without stronger customer relationships, Macy’s could find it increasingly hard to succeed in an industry where people have virtually unlimited shopping options at their fingertips.

“We need to reach customers where they spend their time with communications that reflect their specific style and interests,” explains Fox-Glassman. “It’s not just about price. Shoppers need to feel that we’re listening and responding to them.”

Macy’s had already started on its personalization journey with tailored recommendations on its website and personalized email offers, but these messages weren’t aligned across channels. Recognizing that shoppers often go from websites and email to social media and in-store visits — and then back again — before deciding what to buy, Fox-Glassman and his team looked to create connected journeys for customers every time they interact with the brand.

Working with Adobe’s Professional Services team, Macy’s identified five priority focus areas that would reach a large portion of the customer base.

  1. Drive first to second purchase
  2. ‘Complete the look’ with a complementary purchase
  3. Encourage online shoppers to shop in-store and in-store shoppers to shop online
  4. Increase Macy’s credit card usage
  5. Re-engage churning high-spend customers

“We knew that engaging our loyal customers was key to showcasing the value of our new approach to connected journeys,” says Fox-Glassman.

A foundation for personalization at scale

With areas of focus identified, Macy's turned to the technology, adding Adobe Real-Time CDP, Journey Optimizer, and Customer Journey Analytics to the brand’s implementations of Adobe Experience Manager, Analytics, and Target.

With help from its Adobe Professional Services team, Macy’s connected data sources to create a unified profile of each customer. By stitching known customer information from loyalty members together with data from online and offline interactions, Macy’s was on its way to engaging customers as individuals.

Whether customers purchase in store, check prices on the app, or browse online, information feeds into their unified profiles in real time. If someone shops for children’s clothes or household basics, those activities inform ongoing communications. With every channel using the same real-time data about each customer, Macy’s shoppers now enjoy a level of personalization previously not possible.

But true one-to-one personalization isn’t just one and done. Macy’s needs every interaction to feel customized for every shopper, which means more messages that speak to the individual. With Adobe’s help, Macy’s is investigating how it can meet this demand for content, including using generative AI to help create content, improving how teams work together, and automating the assembly, distribution, and measurement of marketing content.

“We want shoppers to feel we’re creating content just for them. Integrating our content supply chain will help us meet the exponential increase in demand for fully personalized experiences,” says Fox-Glassman.

Success built on collaboration

Macy’s transformation isn’t only about technology. Early in the project, Macy’s created the customer journey team to break down customer information silos and work across teams.

“With a unified structure for customer profiles and journeys, we’ve improved collaboration across our teams and can respond quickly as changes happen,” says Fox-Glassman. “We also use real-time dashboards to track performance, so the team can see how their work impacts the business.”

What Macy’s sees is exciting

Marketers can reengage previously high-value customers with a personalized message based on their past purchases, and then present the same content and offer when the customer visits the website. Or, if a Macy’s loyalty member transacts without realizing card benefits, they instantly receive an email or app notification to remind them about the advantages of using their Macy’s card.

“Receiving personalized offers, recommendations, and preferred content makes customers feel valued and leads to repeat visits,” says Fox-Glassman. “Our goal is to make sure our loyal members look to Macy’s first for their shopping needs.”

When encouraging first-time customers to continue shopping at Macy’s, AI in Journey Optimizer automatically presents the strongest possible offers based on past purchases and preferences. The result is that Macy’s can create more messages and respond faster to new customers, without relying on marketers to make every decision.

At the same time, AI helps Macy’s dynamically create personalized email messages and offers for all shoppers. For example, if a customer purchases dinnerware, Macy’s can automatically send an email to encourage them to complete their set with cutlery, serving platters, or glassware.

“Just looking at our first use cases, we've already generated great engagement and results,” says Fox-Glassman. “More importantly, we’re setting a foundation for ongoing success by strengthening customer relationships. We’ve transformed how our teams work together and the technology we use to put customer journeys front and center. We’re excited to see what we can do next.”