Personalization is not a new phenomenon, it has been around for ages in the shape of promotional items and in luxury goods. Incorporating personalization in products can help e-commerce platforms with dwindling sales.
No. I’m not talking about product recommendations based on previous purchases and search history or personalized marketing messages only. I’m talking about handing over full control to particular customers when it comes to product development.
Anything personal, product or experience, can drastically improve customer lifetime value. As people nowadays are looking for products which reflect their personality or can help them to establish their own different identity. “No lady wants to put a bag on the table when a lot of ladies have the same bag with the same style.” – Richard Liu of JD.com
A rising trend
Many businesses choose to avoid personalized products, dismissing it as a new craze, soon to fizzle out. Jodie Fox, Co-founder of Shoes of Prey, thinks personalization and customization is the future of retail. Shoes of Prey, allows its customers to design their own shoes using online tools.
Customers expect that companies would enable them to boast: ‘I made this’ or ‘this is mine’ when it comes to what they wear or hold. Embossing name on bags or getting labeled cutlery or chain, customers have moved long past this.
Who’s driving this trend?
Millennials and the following generation Z obviously! Around 66 million of US residents fall in 15 – 29 age group, so they hold considerable sway. Their want: product or items to reflect their values and are unique and will help them to develop their own personal brands.
Offering personalized products can greatly increase customer loyalty and satisfaction and help your brand to stand out in the crowd away from the clutter.
In some instances, like for clothing and apparel companies, it can be greatly cost-effective as it will save from mass production and holding inventories.
Giving personalization a try
It can be overwhelming at the start with lots of processes needing to be re-defined and re-evaluated if you are an established player. A good way to go about is to start small then judging by the response one can always scale to the demand.
But it’s all about the customers, it always has been and customers will always define the products, services, and processes the brands will provide and undertake.
So who’s bossing and capitalizing by providing personalization?
Those with vision are heading to the customers’ demand for customized and personalized items. Following are some examples of product customization:
- The Jacket Maker, an e-commerce startup deals in leather jackets and bags, whose bespoke mission is: “To provide the best personalized digital experience for bespoke, from both service and product standpoint, and make it accessible for all.”
Talking about customers, Syed Obaid, CEO and Co-founder of The Jacket Maker said, “We believe you should never settle for anything almost perfect.”
He further added, “We started The Jacket Maker to simplify personalization in the fashion industry. We combine years-old bespoke service with today’s technology to make the finest quality custom and ready-to-wear clothing accessible to everyone.”
The process starts with customers getting in touch with design consultants through the custom request form on their website. Design consultants get back to them on their initial request. At this stage, customers have all the say regarding the design, fabric, fitting and all the other details that come with making a jacket. Basically, customers make their jackets from scratch according to their desires.
Afterward, customers are provided with a digital illustration of their designs. Based on their approval the production phase begins.
- Studio Shed makes prefabricated backyard structures, co-founded by two friends disappointed by uninspiring offerings when it came to backyard sheds. Studio Shed allows its customers to design their backyard structures in their own way.
“Ordering Studio Shed is simple. You can build your Studio Shed to your exact specifications in our 3D Design Studio. We contact immediately to confirm any remaining details of your order – and to walk you through the production and installation timeline.” – excerpt from Studio Shed website.
From size to layout, colors to accessories, everything is decided by customers. They can also choose the installation service if they want to do it themselves there is no burden attached.
- Italia Veloce lets its customers design their own bicycles with the ‘configurator’ tool. Their tool provides options to choose from several models of frames, color, handlebars, seat, wheels and tyres, and many other details. After previewing the final price, orders can be placed online or through their sales outlets.
“True exclusivity is very difficult to achieve. That’s why we created Un1ca. Using Un1ca you can make every Italia Veloce bicycle exclusive. Now, exclusivity is finally possible.” – Quoted text is taken from Italia Veloce site.
It’s not limited to any particular industry
As seen from the varied examples above, any industry or companies in different niches can boost their sales by enabling personalization in products and experiences. However, the extent of handing over the control to customers in product development will differ. For instance in a car: color, seat types, engine specs, and some modifications will be allowed, instead of full customization, keeping the safety and development technicalities in mind.
On the other hand, let’s say a custom jacket, everything from fabric type, panels, inner lining, stitching, fitting to design can be customized according to the demands of customers.
Increasing conversation on data protection and privacy concerns is a common challenge for all brands. It makes people rightly worried and less willing to share their information with companies and businesses.
However, in return for more customized and personalized offerings customers may happily share their info with relevant service providers.
A personalized experience is all based on data collection. So the added need to set up an infrastructure that allows for effective data storage and then to draw meaningful insights from the data is a major hurdle for many small businesses.
Creating a completely bespoke experience that is tailored to the needs, desires and wants of a particular individual will help in getting that all-important sale. For brick & mortars sellers, providing a completely bespoke experience can be extremely difficult, but for the online retailers providing personalized services is a must-have for success and to increase sales.