15 ways to deliver personalized ecommerce experiences

13 min
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Online customers often browse marketplaces, search engines, and social media to find a product that catches their attention — or matches their vibe.

That said, it’s not that they love browsing marketplaces. Instead, they just can’t instantly find what they’re looking for. In fact, a 2022 Wunderman Thompson report found that 80% of global customers want to go from inspiration to making a purchase as soon as possible. 

To help such buyers, you must offer a shopping experience tailor-made for them. Rather than leaving them to skim the entire catalog, help them find relevant products by offering a personalized ecommerce experience. 

We’ll cover how to do just that and more, so let’s dig in. 

Personalization in ecommerce

Ecommerce personalization refers to offering a tailor-made shopping experience to customers based on deep insights into their preferences, behavior, and demographics — or their data profile. 

Typically, it means using customer data to hand-pick recommendations for different customers and come up with a curated, customized online shop. 

Still, that’s not all there is to it. You can also add a personal touch to online shopping by providing exclusive discounts to your most loyal customers, packaging the items in custom boxes, and sending personalized text messages to ecommerce shoppers. 

Benefits of personalization in ecommerce

Just like sending a customized mug to a friend strengthens your friendship, providing a personalized ecommerce experience solidifies your relationship with customers. Plus, you’ll see improvement in multiple key metrics:

Increased customer retention

By offering a personalized shopping experience, you show customers you prioritize them, and they often respond with loyalty. For instance, recent research found that over half of customers become repeat buyers of a business after receiving a personalized experience.

Higher revenue

Personalization lets you increase your average order value (AOV) via upsells and cross-sells and your orders via word-of-mouth marketing. The result: higher revenue. In fact, McKinsey & Company found that companies that prioritize personalization generate 40% more revenue from this strategy than their average competitors.   

Better customer experience

With personalized ecommerce, you give customers what they’re looking for since 71% of consumers expect personalization from brands, and 76% feel frustrated when a brand doesn’t deliver.

How to personalize ecommerce experiences

1. Offer customized products

One of the best ways to personalize the shopping experience is to offer tailor-made products. Instead of making customers explore your catalog to see if there’s something for them, you consider what they want and provide exactly that

For example, check out Function of Beauty, an American-based hair care brand. It encourages customers to take a 2-minute-long hair quiz about their hair type, habits, and goals, then suggests hair products custom-made for them. 

Function of Beauty lets the customer name their bottle and choose their desired fragrance.
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If you’re an ecommerce brand in the beauty industry, you can learn from Function of Beauty and assist customers in shopping for themselves. 

And if you’re not, Rocksbox is another great inspiration. Similar to Function of Beauty, Rocksbox requests customers to fill out a style profile. Afterward, it uses machine learning to come up with personalized jewelry recommendations that customers can pick from themselves or let a personal stylist take charge. 

The result? Rocksbox’s customers receive jewelry that suits their taste without having to scour multiple category pages. 

As an ecommerce brand, you can draw inspiration from Function of Beauty and Rocksbox to employ humans or machines — or a mix of both — to come up with customized products for your customers.  

2. Send personalized messages

A great way to offer a personalized ecommerce experience is by communicating with the customer base as a friend instead of a random brand.

So, use a marketing automation tool to add a personal touch to your messages with shoppers. For example, instead of addressing them as “Dear User,” use their name. Plus, ping them with custom offers that get them to return to your store. 

For example, say a buyer bought blue jeans from your ecommerce business but also searched for “minimalist shirts” during the session. In that case, you can send a personalized text message like this:

“Hi [Customer Name]! We couldn’t help but notice your amazing style sense with those blue jeans. How about adding one of our sleek minimalist shirts to the mix? They’re the perfect match. Check out our minimalist shirts at [Link].” 

While that’s a very specific example, the takeaway is to send personalized emails and text messages to extend personalization efforts outside your online shop — and wow customers in the process. 

That said, you’ll need to segment your customers into groups based on their demographics, interests, and browsing behavior to send such individualized messages. 

For instance, your marketing automation should have the capability to tag customers who both bought blue jeans and searched for “minimalist shirts” to send a custom message like the one above. 

3. Implement tiered shipping

Shipping times and costs are always a messy part of online shopping. In fact, the Wunderman Thompson report shows that faster delivery is the top aspect of shopping online that consumers would like to change. And 41% of shoppers want cheaper shipping.

It might not make sense cost-wise to offer express or free shipping to all buyers. However, you could implement tiered shipping that comes with premium options for repeat customers. 

4. Integrate personalized chatbots

With AI to power up your chatbots, you’re no longer bound by workforce limitations. Instead, you can have a personal account manager for every website visitor looking for help with a purchase. 

Personalized chatbots let you offer:

  • Instant customer support: They can answer simple questions about sizes on product pages. For example, you can preconfigure a chatbot to convert the stated size into other sizing systems (such as from U.S. to UK dress sizes) to help customers make their purchases. 
  • Product recommendations: Customers can interact with chatbots in real-time to find the exact product they’re looking for. Are they searching for chocolates to give to their significant others? Or are they in need of glasses cleaner? You can set up personalized chatbots to guide shoppers on their purchasing journey. 
  • Provide post-sale support: You can use chatbots to handle order-related queries, shipping information, and returns. For instance, customers can get a quick status update from the chatbot instead of needing to go to the delivery portal. 

For example, check out 1-800-Flowers.com’s chatbot. Instead of going through the individual category pages one by one, shoppers can just converse with the chatbot to pick the products they want to add to the cart and finalize their purchase. 

Chatbot of 1-800-Flowers.com asking a customer to finalize a delivery date.
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5. Employ omnichannel marketing

Typically, your friends will have a consistent personality, whether they converse with you face-to-face, on the phone, or via WhatsApp. As an ecommerce website, if you want to replicate a similar relationship with customers, you must also have a uniform personality across all touchpoints. 

To start, offer a consistent, personalized experience across all channels. For instance, if a shopper looks at sunglasses on your website, show similar products when they open the app. 

Besides that, you can personalize their customer journey by engaging them via:

  • Emails: If the customer abandoned the cart, remind them of the sunglasses they viewed on your website with high-quality images and encourage them to complete their purchase. 
  • Ads: Use retargeting ads via social media to display the same sunglasses the customer viewed and entice them with the ad copy to revisit the website. 
  • Web push notifications: If there’s a special promotion or the sunglasses’ price drops, send a notification to let the customer know and encourage them to make a purchase. 
  • Text messages: Send a personalized SMS with a limited-time discount on the sunglasses to create a sense of urgency.
  • Popups: Create an exit-intent popup that offers free shipping on the sunglasses to incentivize them to stay and complete their purchase.

Personalizing the customer experience across the various touchpoints helps you not only increase sales but also understand the buyer journey — and which channels are best suited for retargeting, upselling, and cross-selling. 

6. Introduce loyalty programs

Loyalty programs open up several pathways for ecommerce personalization. 

You can offer a loyalty dashboard to help customers track their progress and how close they are to unlocking the next tier or reward. Besides that, you can include various custom rewards, including exclusive discounts, freebies, and early access to sales. 

Ulta Beauty offers the Ultamate Rewards program, which comes with exclusive deals and membership benefits.
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For example, Ulta Beauty has an excellent customer loyalty program in the form of Ultamate Rewards. Ulta shoppers can earn points by making a purchase, upgrade their membership level to Platinum or Diamond for more perks, and access several exclusive offers, including free shipping. 

In addition, you can offer unique perks to the highest-tier customers to encourage them to become frequent shoppers. For instance, here’s how Saks Fifth Avenue handles its loyalty program

Saks Fifth Avenue’s member benefits.
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Saks Fifth Avenue’s Diamond members receive invites to exclusive live and virtual experiences throughout the year. Plus, customers also have a chance to become part of Saks’s invite-only Limitless loyalty program, which comes with personal styling, free basic alterations, and early access to new designer collections

7. Provide personalized product recommendations

79% of customers like getting recommendations based on their past purchases. For instance, say a customer bought hiking boots and camping accessories from your ecommerce store. In that case, you could recommend a breathable jacket for their outdoor activities. 

If the customer makes such a purchase, you just did successful cross-selling. Similarly, you can rely on product recommendations to upsell items, increase conversion rates, and improve the customer experience. 

That said, typically, you should employ multiple types of recommendations to give shoppers room to explore. For example, you can show buyers:

  • Similar products: Suggest products related to what they’re currently viewing. 
  • Most viewed products: Show the products getting the most views in a specific category to help customers look for trendy items. 
  • Bestsellers: Recommend the products in a specific category that have earned a positive reputation among your buyers.
  • AI-based recommendations: Suggest products that customers are most likely to purchase based on machine learning models’ analysis of their browsing history. 
  • Products viewed by others: Showcase items that other shoppers with similar interests bought from your online store. 

While it may seem like a lot, you can implement this strategy by adding an intelligent product recommendations tool to your store. In fact, you can even send emails that dynamically populate personalized recommendations based on the recipient’s interests.   

8. Send free samples

Social media influencers often receive freebies from brands who want them to promote their products. In a similar sense, you can send free samples to your frequent shoppers to benefit from word-of-mouth marketing and personalize their ecommerce experience. 

Amazon Vine rewards insightful reviewers.
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A great example of this in practice is Amazon Vine. Via this program, Amazon sends its most insightful reviewers free samples so they can share their thoughts on the products with other customers. 


9. Reconnect with cart abandoners

Cart abandonment is natural. Just like people go window shopping in malls, people abandon their carts on ecommerce platforms. In fact, Baymard Institute found that in 70% of online shopping sessions, consumers add items to their shopping cart only to leave without checking out.

That said, while you can’t have dedicated staff members to encourage virtual window shoppers to make a purchase after they navigate away, you can re-engage with cart abandoners after they leave your online shop

For instance, you can approach cart abandoners via:

  • Follow-up emails: Send timely abandoned cart emails to remind customers of the items they left in the cart and offer incentives like discounts or free shipping for completing their purchases. 
Fabletics abandoned cart email optimizes its customer engagement.
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  • Abandoned cart popups: Display popups to remind customers of their carts before they exit your website. 
  • Retargeting ads: Use paid ads to showcase the products they left in their cart to stay top of mind with customers. 

10. Enable user profile creation

Without a user profile, you can only offer surface-level ecommerce personalization. So, let new customers create accounts on your online shop to view their past purchases, track their orders, and open customer tickets. 

And, as you might expect, Amazon leads the way. Amazon lets customers create their account profiles with ease, giving them access to order management, shipment tracking, and purchase history. Not to mention, they can save multiple payment and shipping details for easier checkout in the future. 

Amazon’s account also lets users opt for Amazon Prime.
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11. Incorporate virtual try-on features

If you’re an online retailer that deals with products that customers like to experiment with before purchasing, you can offer website visitors a personalized experience through a virtual try-on feature. 

For instance, say you sell eyeglasses. In that case, your customers would like a way to see how they’d look wearing different pairs before making their purchase. 

Zenni Optical lets customers find their perfect pair with a virtual try-on.
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That’s exactly how Zenni Optical handles it. Customers can start by capturing a small video and then try on as many frames as they like before deciding on one. 

12. Create curated gift guides

While creating curated gift guides might not be a standard part of your ecommerce personalization strategy, you can make it a part of your overall marketing efforts to come across a helpful friend. 

For instance, if you run a cosmetic store, you can create guides for men who need a helping hand while shopping for their significant others. 

Similarly, you can personalize the ecommerce experience of your customers by sharing detailed gift guides for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day.

For example, check out this email from The Landmark Project, which suggests gifts for mothers and even offers a coupon for 20% off and free shipping: 

Mother’s Day email from The Landmark Project.
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13. Use personalized packaging

While all that glitters is not gold, human beings are attracted to shiny and visually appealing objects. You can benefit from that nature by packaging your ecommerce items in attractive and unique packaging. 

To see this strategy in play, check out Happy Socks. Not only does it have socks with fun colors, but the packing boxes also bring a smile to customers’ faces. 

For instance, imagine you got a gift set like this from a friend: 

Happy Socks’s Gingerbread House Socks Gift Set.
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14. Offer personalized subscription boxes

If your ecommerce site sells consumables, such as skincare, grooming products, or pet food, you can opt for subscription boxes to get a consistent revenue stream while fulfilling customers’ needs. Plus, you can personalize them to a customer’s unique requirements

BarkBox’s homepage shows what BarkBox offers for dogs.
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For example, consider BarkBox. BarkBox lets customers enter their dog breed, allergy specifications, and other information to get tailor-made subscription boxes every month, which contain toys, treats, and other fun items. 

15. Celebrate special events

As an ecommerce brand, you can establish a personal connection with customers by celebrating special events with them. 

Typically, that means sending a personalized message to shoppers and coming up with relevant products they can buy to celebrate the event. 

Mother’s Day email from Coterie.
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Here are a few special events you can celebrate with your customers:

  • Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: You can send a personalized email encouraging customers to buy gifts for their parents and incentivize them by offering discounts.
  • Birthday: If the customer shares their birthday with you, you can make their day special by wishing them a happy birthday and including amazing discounts on their favorite products. 
  • Valentine’s Day: Since customers are shopping for their significant others, you can use an email campaign between Feb. 1 and Feb. 14 to remind them of the upcoming romantic holiday and recommend personalized products they can buy for their partners.