Dear Traditional Retailers – where is my personalised order?

by Richard Askam | 01/03/2023
Dear Traditional Retailers – where is my personalised order?

Richard Askam, The Personalisation Experience Ambassador, considers why so many well-known retailers are still not embracing personalisation.

It has been a few months since I became the Personalisation Ambassador for FESPA’s new event, the Personalisation Experience 2023 taking place alongside FESPA Global Print Expo 2023 and European Sign Expo 2023 in May. The event will offer a 360 degree focus on all things personalisation. Printers, brands, retailers, consumers, futurists, and data experts focused on personalisation will participate and will offer a slightly different view of where the true value sits.

We have also launched a new series of podcasts that are dedicated to Personalisation, you can listen to the “Up Close & Personal” podcasts here. In these podcasts, I speak to a various guest from all over the world on Personalisation. A question I often am asked is “Why don’t the major retailers and grocers offer more personalised products?” We will discuss this further in this blog.

In 2009, my business manufactured personalised alcohol gift products, with a key focus on champagne. I had spent 30 years in the wine business, and for some time we created customised labels for our clients who were in the hospitality industry. In 2009, I was asked by a corporate client to create a wine label that individually featured all his customers’ names. At the time, I could not find a supplier who could do this for me so I created a business to sell personalised wine on the Internet and called it Intervino. Just like that, personalised wine labels were born!

At the time, my goal was to offer these products to as many online retailers as I could. I received a lot of interest, all the major pureplay online retailers in the UK expressed their interest. They were eager to expand their business to include gifts and personalised wine,
champagne, beer, and spirits. Spirits quickly became everyone’s best seller. Within a short period of time, I had to rent a bigger warehouse, hire more staff and began to sell large amounts of products. However, I struggled to gain the interest of the major legacy retailers such as major department stores and supermarkets. They all liked the idea of owning their own bottle of Champagne with their name on it. But they all made the same comment, “Our website can’t handle personalised messages.” Their technology kept proving to be the issue.

In 2012, one well-known department store group did attempt this, but all they could offer was the following customer journey:

  1. Select Product to be personalised
  2. Buy Product
  3. Receive confirmation of purchase
  4. Send us an email with your personalised message
  5. Receive confirmation that we have received your personalised message
  6. Email sent to supplier (me) to be matched manually to product order
  7. Give up and start rocking gently in a dark room

Unsurprisingly, this was not feasible for customers and unfortunately in 2023 not much has changed.

One of the largest supermarket groups in the UK has 0 results when you type personalised gifts into their website. The Department store I mentioned is still “ re-platforming” so they can accept personalised messages.

The point of this blog is the size of the opportunity that exists for the print industry does not rest with print businesses all increasing the many ways you can create personalised products. It actually rests with you helping the legacy retailers to solve their own tech issues so that consumers (in their millions) can start to place orders that you can supply. Solve that, and the market for personalised products will go through the roof and I will be a happy man….

Discover the Personalisation Experience taking place alongside FESPA Global Print Expo 2023 and European Sign Expo 2023 from 23rd May – 26th May 2023 at Messe Munich. The Personalisation Experience will bring together 3,500 stakeholders from retailers, brands, agencies to printers and fulfilment houses, connecting them with software providers and OEMs to explore the potential of personalisation in sportswear, packaging, product, loyalty and custom interiors. For more information please visit:

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