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360 Commerce, Digital Marketing February 08, 2020

Improving the e-commerce CX with customisation

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In the past few months, Ruti’s instore fashion personalisation tool debuted, Mack House began offering sneakerheads access to a ‘Bring your own kicks’ customisation studio, Prose dry shampoo provided bespoke products based on customer surveys, NFM Group announced the customisable HJELM helmet for soldiers, the Collette Kit arrived with customisable CBD kits on a monthly subscription, Pluto started designing pillows based on each customer’s height, weight and sleep habits and Samsung’s tailored exercise app FITT was announced for CES 2020. It’s safe to say that personalised products are in vogue.

The growth of personalisation is one of the overriding macro trends of the past ten years. Disruptive technology has created the ideal set of circumstances for individually tailored services – the growth of data tracking and better tools to understand the collected information giving businesses a more granular understanding of their customers. E-commerce has created an online vs brick and mortar retail arms race to offer the best shopping experience. And the expansion of CMS services and headless commerce is allowing businesses to turn that granular audience understanding into personalised, customer experiences without impacting their efficiency.

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It’s now rare to shop online without seeing a ‘Customers who bought this also bought that’ feature. Website content morphs to the consumer’s interest, search for ‘holidays in Croatia’ and Dubrovnik replaces Barcelona in the website hero image. Spotify’s ‘Discover weekly’ playlists recommend new records based on your listening habits, video on-demand is essentially a customised TV schedule and social media is built on users picking who to follow and who not to. With personalisation so ingrained in everyday life, it’s no longer an added perk. It’s an expectation.

There are clear benefits to companies that offer further customisation and personalisation services. Epsilon found 80% of shoppers are more likely to purchase from a company that offers personalised experiences, while Salesforce’s research showed that shoppers who follow AI-powered product recommendations spend an average of 14% more per order. Shoppers themselves recognise this too, Deloitte found that 1 in 5 consumers interested in personalised products are willing to pay a 20% premium.

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The trick to success around this trend is to understand the positives and the pain points. In Dept’s ‘What do consumers really think of personalisation?’ survey, the top three positives were saving time, finding new products and helping the customer find what they need. Efficiency, improving awareness and adding relevance.

Irrelevant suggestions were the number one dislike, though security concerns were a close second, showing an interesting conflict for consumers. We want companies to understand our needs while our personal data remains private, it’s a yin/yang that will grow in importance as data ownership enters the public conscious, supported by startups like Mine.

Some of the most popular personalised services of the past few years have worked around this conflict by involving the customer in the customisation process, using informed consent to improve service and sooth consumers’ privacy concerns.

A prime example is Thread, the hit menswear service. On account creation, Thread matches users with a stylist based on their body type, favourite fashion looks and preferred fit.

Clothes are arranged in purpose-based outfits, such as ‘a casual date night,’ with users able to request ideas based on their own needs. Every suggestion on the site is relevant, through a blend of data tracking, user input. It’s a far simpler shopping experience, particularly compared to hitting the high street, from initial product awareness all the way through to retention.

In a similar vein, Dept’s recent work on Triumph’s configurator, a motorcycle customisation tool, looked to forge a link between consideration and brand loyalty. Based on the user’s custom Triumph design, smart rules personalise the shopping journey in line with their preferences, helping Triumph to move users to the next step in the purchasing journey. The combination of initial user input and audience profiling can establish the efficiency, awareness and relevance that consumers are looking for from personalisation. This builds into retention, with scope to provide an ongoing ‘digital garage’ for buyers that gives Triumph an ongoing contact point, based on their initial customisation.

The personalisation trend is wide ranging and versatile, dipping into an array of different sectors, but these core principles of relevance, efficiency and information are uniform across each industry. Data privacy may be a growing concern, but with more informed involvement from consumers and a focus on those three principles, we’re sure to see an exciting number of personalised products and services offering unmatched experiences in 2020.

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