06/02/2015 02:33 EDT | Updated 06/02/2016 05:59 EDT

The Bay CEO Gerry Storch Wants To Simulate 'Personal Sellers' On Mobile

TORONTO - Personal sellers were once a tool exclusive to the rich and famous, but the chief executive of Hudson's Bay says there's room for his company to build stronger one-on-one relationships with more of its customers through technology.

Gerry Storch, who became head of the department store chain last December, says personal selling is "one of the most important applications" in the pocket of Hudson's Bay and Saks Fifth Ave. as it navigates an evolving market where customers expect personalization.

"Increasingly, consumers don't think about stores as physical locations. They think about stores as brands they interact with," he said after delivering a keynote speech on the future of retail at the Store 2015 retail conference, held by the Retail Council of Canada.

For years, high-end retailers like Holt Renfrew and Saks have used personal relationships between its clerks and shoppers to drive sales with customers who have lots of money to spend. The objective is to create loyalty that extends beyond a handshake and exchange of money at the register.

Store employees will often text and email their best customers to let them know about exclusive events or new products.

Storch wants to bring a variation of that practice to Canadians who might not be dropping thousands of dollars every time they shop, but still want to feel valued.

"The opportunity is to start customizing that on a mass scale so you simulate the personal selling experience on a mobile device," he said.

"I believe that's a big opportunity down the line."

Most Canadian retailers have been slow to adopt personalization through their online stores.

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