Top 8 eCommerce personalization examples to boost sales
This post was last updated on June 21, 2023.
“Personalization” has become somewhat of a buzzword these days, across many types of businesses.
However, the fact remains that the most successful eCommerce marketing strategies employ personalization—even at a time when data privacy and security are top-of-mind for consumers. While the rules of engagement have changed, there are still plenty of ways that your business can thoughtfully (and responsibly) personalize the shopping experience for your buyers.
Keep reading for tips on how to make personalization work when you're starting a business or coming from a position as an established business owner.
What is eCommerce personalization?
Ecommerce personalization is the process of using customer data to tailor the shopping experience on your website (and other touchpoints) to each unique customer.
It’s both a science and an art, aimed at delighting 73% of consumers who now expect companies to anticipate their unique needs, according to a recent survey by Salesforce. In the same survey, 88% of respondents—up from 80% in 2020—said that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.
And yet, over half of respondents said that they felt that most companies still treat them like a number. In other words, there’s lots of room for improvement. And, if your business is able to effectively personalize your customers’ experience, you could glean impressive results: increased sales, improved customer retention—just to name a few.
8 eCommerce personalization examples
When it comes to eCommerce (see our guide on what is eCommerce), imitating companies that do personalization well can help improve your interactions with customers. These eCommerce personalization examples can also help boost sales and conversions. Here are several examples of personalization-done-right, plus tips for how you can recreate these for your own store.
01. Add a “you may also like” section
A simple but powerful tactic: recommend products to your customers based on the pages they’ve already visited while browsing your site. Or, base recommendation on products that customers have already added to their carts.
It works because the customer has already shown an interest in the product. Yet, if they’re not sold on the color, design, or size, visitors don’t have to manually search for something similar. Instead, the carousel shows other items from the same collection.
Similarly, you can use a “You may also like” section to recommend complementary products (e.g., accessories to match a watch that a customer is looking to buy). This is an excellent way to cross-sell or upsell—techniques that encourage shoppers to purchase more items or invest in a higher-value product than they originally intended on buying.
02. Use quizzes or surveys to make product recommendations
Quizzes and surveys offer a fun, natural way to learn a shopper’s preferences. Meanwhile, they help your customers combat choice paralysis as they browse your catalog.
As an example, bObsweep—creators of robot vacuums—present visitors with a brief product quiz to help them find a vacuum for their unique living situation.
The quiz asks new visitors about their style of home, family members, and pets. It also leverages avatars and illustrations, helping shoppers to quickly self-identify as opposed to requiring them to scan a wall of text.
The result? A thoughtfully selected product based on a customer’s answers.
03. Localize your content
If you serve different geographic markets, providing language and location options is an absolute must. As explained by Reese Spykerman of Design By Reese:
“Weather or seasonal personalization is a good example of passive personalization. You can do weather personalization broadly, if you're a regional brand, or based on user IP. So, if IP detection shows the customer's area is likely to have rain, products or promotions that call out the weather can feel really empathetic in a subtle way.”
Wix merchants can use Velo to display location-based content. Wix also offers built-in localization capabilities, including a currency converter and translation services. Users can manually select their preferred language or region from your site to surface relevant information.
Take a look at Izzy Wheels’ site for inspiration. Using Wix’s currency converter, the company allows users to choose their preferred currency. The product page will then update accordingly.
Fun fact: Allowing customers to change the language of your site has SEO benefits. By translating your page for various audiences, you can raise your chances of ranking for terms in different regions, without having to duplicate your page for each location.
04. Offer customizable products
Offering personalization options on your products can create a memorable experience for buyers. It’s how Papier Patate built its charming brand. Creators of playful cards, stickers, and stationary—Papier Patate lets shoppers choose from a wide range of whimsical designs, which can be personalized with a name or custom text.
If you aren’t sure how to get started, consider tapping a print on demand (POD) partner. With POD, you can offer specially designed products on a per-order basis while outsourcing fulfillment to a trusted partner.
05. Give buyers the option to add personal gift messages
A simple “add a gift note” option allows shoppers to personalize a package for someone else. At the same time, it spares you the hassle of changing your manufacturing process in order to offer custom orders.
Izzy Wheels allows its buyers to add a recipient’s name to their purchases so that the brand can send a little note.
As a secondary benefit, offering this option encourages customers to share your products with their loved ones. It can indirectly inspire them to gift your product to someone (if they hadn’t already been thinking of it before) and spread the word about your brand.
06. Let customers schedule their deliveries
These days we tend to be hyper-focused on offering fast shipping as opposed to shipping items right when a buyer needs them.
For special occasions like weddings or birthdays, customers may prefer to schedule shipments for a particular date and time. Not only can this help to relieve stress for your customers, but it can also position your company as one that’s especially mindful of your customers’ unique needs. (That said, you should only offer this if your shipping carrier and operations are set up to support this.)
Adam Apple, which sells biodegradable confetti that’s popularly used during wedding celebrations, accepts pre-orders up to 12 months in advance. Customers can choose to delay an order until a specific date.
This pre-order system further allows Adam Apple to better manage its inventory and cash flow. The company knows how much of an item is needed far ahead of time; it can receive payment from the order upfront, but delay production until the item is needed.
A word to the wise: be clear about delivery timing and status. Provide consistent updates and reminders as the delivery date approaches, ensuring that customers don’t miss their deliveries and know exactly when to expect them.
07. Bake user-generated content into the customer journey
User-generated content (UGC), such as customer photos and videos, are inherently personal. They give an authentic glimpse into another customer’s experience with your brand. They additionally celebrate your loyal customers, while helping others picture themselves using your products.
UCG can be infused throughout your website—from your product pages to your review pages to your homepage. UGC can also be repurposed on your social channels, emails, and other properties, adding a human touch and helping to build brand trust.
Zappos masterfully leverages customer content on their product pages, creating a sense of community around their products. Their “How It Was Worn” section showcases images of customers wearing the item featured on the page, while also encouraging users to share their own images.
Some other ways to incorporate UGC on your site: add a Q&A section at the bottom of your product pages, accept and display product reviews, or add a “customers also bought” feed showing products that like-minded shoppers have purchased.
08. Launch a loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs are nothing new, but they’re still an excellent way to personalize your offers and build meaningful connections. Highly personalized loyalty programs keep customers coming back, while helping you learn more about what your buyers want.
Starbucks’ Rewards program, as an example, allows customers to earn “stars” for every purchase they make. Stars can be redeemed for various perks like free drink customizations and special merchandise. Stars are time-sensitive, meaning they expire if not used by a given date (which gives Starbucks an excuse to email rewards members with reminders to use their stars before they expire).
But most notably, Starbucks’ loyalty program is successful because it’s personal. The program offers customized recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases. Members can conveniently check their balance using the Starbucks app, and participate in games, challenges, and events that pique their interest.
Personalization in a privacy-first world
But what’s a seller to do when customers are more protective than ever of their personal data?
First, the good news. Study after study shows that most shoppers are happy to share their personal information with retailers in exchange for a better (read: more personalized) experience.
While data privacy regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and CPRA have demanded more stringent data practices, many customers are still willing to share their information with brands that they trust.
“For the last decade or so, the concept of digital data privacy didn’t much exist––and online brands looking to grow bought email lists that weren’t theirs, used Facebook’s data to target niche segments with ads, and a lot more,” says Tracey Wallace, director of content strategy at Klaviyo. “[Today] brands can no longer exploit data they didn’t actually collect…Consumers [still] like personalization. They want brands to talk to them—but only if they’ve explicitly given them permission to do so.”
Continue Reading: How to 90x your email ROI: a Q&A with Klaviyo
In short, you must be purposeful about how and why you’re collecting customer data. Customers should know exactly what their data is being used for and be able to opt out at any time.
When asking your customers for consent, take care to:
Use straightforward, clear language in order to obtain explicit consent from your customers
Outline how you plan to use their data
Clearly list the benefits that customers get from sharing their data with you
Make it easy for customers to opt out of personalization or to request that their data is deleted from your database
Alternatively, you can implement strategies (such as many of the ones listed in the next section) to warm up the buying experience without having to collect personal data at all.
eCommerce personalization benefits
Personalizing your store can make the difference between customers choosing to shop with you or choosing to shop elsewhere. There are some other benefits to nailing eCommerce personalization:
Improved customer success. Personalized experiences can help to improve customer loyalty by making customers feel valued and appreciated, potentially leading to repeat purchases and increased lifetime value. It can also increase customer satisfaction by making customers feel like they are getting a tailored and relevant shopping experience, which often correlates with positive reviews and word-of-mouth referrals.
Increased conversion rates. Personalized experiences can help to increase conversion rates by up to 20%. This is because customers are more likely to buy from a retailer that they feel understands their needs and interests.
Reduced marketing costs. Personalized experiences can help to reduce marketing costs significantly by targeting your marketing messages to the right customers. This can lead to a higher return on investment (ROI) for your marketing campaigns.
Personalization doesn't end with your website
The personalization examples presented here demonstrate how you can better design your eCommerce site according to your customers’ unique tastes and needs. Keep in mind that personalization doesn’t end there.
You’ll want to send abandoned cart emails with personalized product recommendations. Personalize your ad campaigns to various customer segments. Drive loyalty by tailoring your coupons to specific customers.
In summary, it pays to think about all the ways your customers interact with your business and to look for opportunities to add a personal touch. Needless to say that creating more personalized eCommerce experiences can help you stand out from the crowd and turn one-time shoppers into lifelong fans.
eCommerce personalization FAQ
What is eCommerce personalization?
eCommerce personalization is the practice of tailoring the online shopping experience to each individual customer. This can be done by using data about the customer's past behavior, interests, and demographics to deliver personalized content, recommendations, and offers.
What are the 4 R's of personalization?
The 4 R's of personalization are:
Relevance: The content and offers that you deliver to customers should be relevant to their interests and needs.
Recognition: The content and offers that you deliver to customers should be based on their current behavior.
Responsiveness: You should provide timely content that is personalized to your customers' needs.
Results: It is necessary to track the results of your efforts for maximum impact and success.
How important is personalization in eCommerce?
Personalization is very important in eCommerce and can help to improve conversion, customer loyalty and retention.
Here are some of the benefits of personalization in eCommerce:
Increased conversion rates: Personalized recommendations can help to increase conversion rates by up to 20%.
Improved customer loyalty: Personalized experiences can help to improve customer loyalty and retention.
Increased customer satisfaction: Customers who have a personalized experience are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase.
Reduced marketing costs: Personalization can help to reduce marketing costs by targeting your marketing messages to the right customers.
What is personalization and customization in eCommerce?
Personalization and customization are two different but related concepts in eCommerce. Personalization is the process of tailoring the online shopping experience to each individual customer. This can be done by using data about the customer's past behavior, interests, and demographics to deliver personalized content, recommendations, and offers. Customization, on the other hand, involves allowing customers to customize their product or service to their own specific needs and preferences. Examples of customization include customizing a product size, color, or function, or selecting from a range of options to create a unique product.
Marketing Writer, Wix for eCommerce
Geraldine is a marketing writer for Wix. She uses her broad experience in journalism, publishing, public relations and marketing to create compelling content and loves hearing user success stories.
Allison Lee Editor, Wix for eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.