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Personalization in fashion ecommerce: techniques, strategies and examples

Personalization has evolved. It once was a method that used basic demographics and census data to chase potential buyers around the web and show them ads. Now, it’s a bona fide marketing strategy helping ecommerce stores build lasting relationships with their shoppers.

Michal Wlosik

22 minutes

Table of contents

  1. 1. Types of personalization in fashion ecommerce
  2. 2. Why personalized customer experiences matter in fashion ecommerce
  3. 3. Personalization best practices and pitfalls
  4. 4. How personalization works under the hood
  5. 5. Known vs. unknown visitors
  6. 6. Last words

To implement personalization sensibly, fashion ecommerce stores need to learn how to use the clues about what their visitors want and, more importantly, what they really need – sometimes before they even know it themselves. 

In this article, we'll explore different personalization strategies and techniques to create better, more meaningful customer experiences and drive conversions.

Types of personalization in fashion ecommerce

Personalization can be implemented by simply asking the users to sign up before making a purchase. This is often incentivized by sending a discount code to the verified email address. While the process might seem like a hassle, it also opens up an array of personalization opportunities to increase conversion rates and sales. 

Beyond information provided by the user in the registration process, there are many other types of personalization in ecommerce stores. Here are some of the most common:

  • Product recommendations: Based on your past purchasing history or browsing behavior, ecommerce websites can recommend similar or related products that you might be interested in.

  • Location-based personalization: Ecommerce stores can customize their content and product offerings based on your location. This could include showing different prices based on where you are located or displaying products that are popular in your area.

  • Search bar personalization: Ecommerce websites can remember what you have searched for in the past and use that information to provide tailored search results and recommendations.

  • Personalized emails: Stores can send personalized email campaigns or push notifications with relevant content.

  • Personalized shopping experience: Personalized home, category and checkout pages can create a unique user interface or design for each customer.

  • Personalized special offers: Custom discounts or deals can be based on customer preferences and behavior.

  • Personalized pricing: The store can display different prices to different customers based on their location, purchase history, or other factors.

We will go into the nitty-gritty of each personalization technique over the course of this article.

Overall, when done right, personalization can create a more relevant and engaging experience for customers, leading to higher conversion rates and increased loyalty. In fact, a study published by McKinsey revealed that personalized experiences can deliver a 5-8% lift in revenue.

Why personalized customer experiences matter in fashion ecommerce

You might think that most buyers just seek the lowest price and don’t care much about what you’re telling or showing them. However, research shows that personalizing the customer experience increases user satisfaction, retention and average order value – and more importantly, allows the user to build a relationship with the brand, which then translates into trust and loyalty. 

These days, personalization isn't just something consumers want, it's something they demand. The importance of getting store and product loyalty right has never been greater. According to a McKinsey study, companies that excel at personalization generate 40 percent more revenue. Leaders in personalization achieve better results by tailoring offerings to the right individuals at the right time.

Companies that operate on a data-backed, direct-to-consumer model have made personalization more than just a marketing strategy. It’s the foundation of their business model.

What’s in it for the customer?

Because shoppers can find what they're looking for more easily, personalization helps stores retain users for longer and have an increased lifetime value. They should get their concerns addressed before they even become actual concerns, like: is there a local pick-up option in my town? Will I have to pay customs? Will I have to pay VAT? Is my purchase eligible for free shipping?

Ultimately it comes down to the user feeling like they belong, like they are heard and understood.

Personalization benefits for the customers:

  • Better user experience, e.g., personalized search results for easier discovery of relevant products 

  • Higher satisfaction with the purchase

  • Additional perks (discounts, special offers, birthday gifts, etc.)

What's in it for the store?

For one, better user satisfaction. Increased average order value comes in tow, and lifetime value increases as well, as the shopper keeps coming back for more.

Personalization benefits for the ecommerce store:

  • Higher AOV (Average Order Value)

  • Higher conversion rates

  • Higher retention

  • Higher customer loyalty

  • Higher customer trust

Personalization best practices and pitfalls

When not done right, personalization can come off as selfish, scammy, disrespectful or even creepy. Here are a few things you should consider to stay on the safe side.

Personalization should be well timed

Always make sure your timing is right, and that you are using a personalization method appropriate for the stage of awareness the user is in. You don’t want to come off as disrespectful or creepy in front of your customers. 

Timing is important. Don’t throw everything at the users and spam them with popups and discount coupons from the first moment they enter the store. It’s a bit presumptuous to think they might be interested in your newsletter when they’ve only just arrived and most likely don’t really know what you’re selling yet. However, you can incentivize subscriptions, and offer e.g. a 10% discount code – see the Pull & Bear example below.

Personalization should provide value to the user

Your personalization efforts translate into real value for the users, not for you. Shoppers need to feel that you're doing personalization for them, and not to them. The goal is to make their lives easier by addressing their concerns and eliminating friction points. 

Real value and ease of use are paramount – remember to provide a better experience, offers, and incentives that are suited to them as well as personalized search results, personalized collections, and maybe stylized collections depending on what you're selling. 

Personalization can go wrong

Personalization must be well-considered if you don’t want to come off as scammy or disrespectful. There are many wrong ways to go about it. For example: 

  • Personalization can be creepy when you’re using data the user did not explicitly want to share with you.

  • Personalization can be badly timed when you’re showing pesky discount code prompts or newsletter popups before the shopper even gets a chance to look around the store.

  • Personalization can come off as a scam if you’re abusing the data and addresses users have shared with you

  • Personalization can be disrespectful and selfish when it’s not providing value for the user, but only for the store.

Now, let’s now discuss the key components of a personalized website experience and how to implement it.

How personalization works under the hood

Personalization starts with the homepage – this is where you begin the conversation with the user. From there, the user will likely proceed to your product pages and category pages, and the conversation continues at every stage of the customer journey. It only gets more nuanced as you get more information about the user – their preferences, behaviors and habits. 

As they work through purchasing an item, they may have the motivation to add something additional to the cart, and personalization efforts can impact what and how much the person buys. 

But personalization does not stop once the product is purchased. You can also personalize the thank you page, the packaging of the product, the newsletter and even transactional emails. 

Personalization needs real-time data and insights to deliver special offers and incentives for the shopper, but it’s not always about offers and incentives.

In a nutshell, personalization consists of properly covering the four areas:

  • Setting a goal (what you want to achieve: higher AOV, more newsletter subscribers, lower return rate)

  • Gathering the data (asking your users the right questions: size, style, preferred designs)

  • Understanding the data (making sense of the collected data and deciding how to use it sensibly for your personalization efforts)

  • Implementing personalization (choosing the right techniques and methods to personalize the website experience for the user)

We will cover these areas in more detail later on. For now, let’s have a look at the two prerequisites for personalization: measurement and segmentation.

Measurement

Before any personalization is possible, you need to obtain data about your users. The kind of data you need to collect will vary depending on what you need to know, and that will determine what questions you’ll ask about your users.

A good measurement strategy can support personalization efforts, helping you understand what data to collect and how to go about it. What do you want to know about your shoppers? What do you want to achieve? It could be user satisfaction, average order value, customer retention or loyalty. To measure these, you must decide on the most important KPIs. 

Once you know the goal of your personalization efforts, you will figure out how to ask the correct questions. Everything in measurement starts with the right questions. Without them, you will not know what to measure. Once you’re asking what you should be, you can start collecting data through:

  • Web analytics tools

  • UTM Parameters on campaigns

  • CRM

  • POS systems

  • Quizzes/Questions

Developing a measurement strategy usually boils down to defining your goals first and then asking questions that will lead you to them. Who is the user? Where did they come from? What is the purpose of their visit? What stage of awareness are they in? How can you best support their journey, and what is that journey? 

But what should be measured in order to answer those questions? 

It’s important to understand that personalization is not just about adding someone’s first name to an email subject line. To truly personalize the customer experience, you need to have a deep understanding of your audience and what they want.

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What to measure
Who is the user?Logged in or not, returning customer
Where did they come from?Source, campaign, medium, keywords
What is the purpose of their visit?Touchpoints, interactive behaviors, search
What stage of awareness is the user at?Touchpoints, interactive behaviors, acquisition
How can you best support the user journey?Interactions
What is the user’s journey?Touchpoints, product types

How to obtain the data

You can source this data from the campaign source, the medium and the keywords they use to get to your site. 

UTMs

Tracking online traffic with UTM parameters is simple, straightforward and reliable, as UTMs are not affected by changes to third-party cookies or the Facebook pixel. By using UTM parameters, you can attribute traffic to your campaigns in an analytics tool like Google Analytics.

UTMs can be helpful to identify the traffic coming from your Facebook campaign, and also make it possible to personalize your home page to the specific user. For example, if the Facebook ad was targeted at men (i.e. men’s jackets), the UTMs should tell you that all the people coming through the link are interested in men’s jackets.

Here’s a normal URL without any tracking: 

www.yoursite.com/pricing

And here’s the same URL with four UTM parameters added:

www.yoursite.com/pricing?utm_source=active%20users
&utm_medium=email
&utm_campaign=feature%20launch&utm_content=bottom
%20cta%20button

Where:

  • www.yoursite.com/pricing – Is the page's URL

  • ? – This tells your browser that everything after this point is just data

  • utm_source=active%20users – We’ve defined “active users” as our UTM Source. Since spaces can’t be used in a URL, the space is replaced with “%20”

  • & – This tells our marketing tools that we’ve finished defining the previous UTM and we’re about to start a new one.

  • utm_medium=email – We’ve defined the UTM Medium as “email”.

  • utm_campaign=feature%20launch – We’ve defined the UTM Campaign as “feature launch”.

  • utm_content=bottom%20cta%20button – We’ve defined the UTM Content as “bottom cta button” so we can track traffic down to the individual link of the campaign.

Understanding if the customers came from a Facebook ad, an email or a search query in Google will help you determine the purpose of their visit – what they are searching for, what category they clicked on on your homepage, etc. 

This is very useful because it tells you about the user and allows you to personalize the website to them. 

Pop-ups and quizzes

Pop-ups and quizzes allow you to collect zero-party data about your users. This includes various questions, forms and quizzes asking for information, e.g.:

  • What’s your wedding anniversary?

  • When is your mom's birthday?

  • What’s your size?

There are many questions you can ask that are specific to the purchase they made or specific to what you know about the user, which will help you further down the line in that user's journey and ultimately increase their lifetime value.

All this data that the user voluntarily gives you about themselves is super valuable to your personalization strategy

Fit finders

Fit finders are increasingly gaining traction in fashion ecommerce stores. For example, Nudie Jeans offers a very user-friendly fit guide, allowing the customers to find the right design and fit. 

This helps shoppers navigate the complexities of various jeans designs and styles to find the pair that best fits their needs. For the store, on the other hand, it helps slash the return rates and increase the number of happy customers – statistics show that over 50% of returns are attributed to the wrong size or fit.

On top of their fit finder, Nudie Jeans also offers a service called Virtusize, a virtual fitting solution that enables online fashion retailers to illustrate the size and fit for consumers. The store thus eliminates the sizing guesswork from the shopping experience.

Nudie Jeans’ Virtusize implementation

The Virtusize plugin allows Nudie Jeans’ customers to compare the size of a product with an item they already own. Shoppers can also create a digital silhouette and try items on to see how they actually fit. Finally, they can manage all their past purchases in one place and take it with them wherever they shop online.

This is convenient for the shopper but also results in higher conversion rates and order values for the store. By removing the element of doubt, Virtusize is able to boost average conversion-to-purchase rates above 10%.

This is an excellent example of personalization, where the store adapts to the customer rather than the other way around. This approach helps fashion stores build trust with shoppers, increasing the ratio of repeat purchases and driving confidence in the size and fit of their favorite brands.

Combining the data

For a successful personalization program, you need to take the information that you have on the website about the user and all that first-party data you're collecting. Combine it with additional metrics from your email system, your CRM, the interactions with the customer support team and even your POS data if you have a retail store.

When you take all this additional information and tie it together with the behavioral data from your website, you'll be able to understand your user better, and better personalize your offer to them. When collecting interactive, behavioral and additional data from various other systems, you might wonder how that really helps  understand the user.

Segmentation

Once you have the data, it’s time to make use of it in a meaningful way. Data is a prerequisite to segmentation, and segmentation is then a prerequisite to all your personalization efforts. 

Types of segmentation

There are many types of segmentation. It is important to focus only on those that make a real difference to your business. In a fashion store, for example, you would definitely want to segment your users by gender, style, age, and size. No need to gather data on your shoppers’ allergies, favorite movies, or preferred furniture styles. 

Let’s now look at the main segmentation types and how they apply to different situations in fashion ecommerce and beyond:

Geographic segmentation

Many ecommerce stores use geographic segmentation to narrow down the list of local dealers and pickup locations. 

Härkila is Europe's leading, premium brand of clothing, footwear, and equipment for hunting. Their store displays a map of local dealers, physical stores, and pickup locations in close proximity to the shopper based on their IP. This is an excellent example of omnichannel integration, which caters to customers who prefer the old-school, brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

Geographic segmentation helps you understand where the user is located, what time zone they might be in, and the current season in their country. Knowing all this, you can then show them relevant information. Why does it matter? Because users shopping from Europe should see all of the prices in euros, while US shoppers should see the prices in dollars – with all applicable state-specific taxes and shipping rates. 

Geographic segmentation will also help you plan holiday promotions in the store. For example, a July 4th or Memorial Day weekend sale in the United States won’t apply to other countries, and Mother's Day, strangely, falls on a different day depending on the country. Keep that in mind.

Geographical segmentation is not very specific, but it can still be useful to help you personalize your offer, determine the display language of the store, and localize things like:

  • Product pages

  • Find-a-store pages

  • Holiday sales

  • Delivery options

  • Payment providers

  • Currencies

  • Taxes

For more about localization of ecommerce websites, head over to another blog post on the Centra blog.

A personalized and localized store usually makes the shopping experience a little easier for the shopper, but not always. Accessing the website from a certain country does not necessarily mean the user understands the language well – they may just be traveling. This is why you should always make sure users can change the language and currency back to their preferred ones.

Psychographic segmentation

Psychographic segmentation is a very nuanced process that’s usually impossible without tapping into various data on the shopper – interests, beliefs, values, attitudes and lifestyle choices. On the face of it, this may not sound very useful for a fashion ecommerce store, but if a user can identify with your brand, they will be more likely to return and buy more.

The main sources of psychographic data are platforms like Facebook. They allow you to build audiences based on a trove of data about their users: interests, hobbies, personal preferences, attitudes, beliefs and values. For an ecommerce store, this would help the shop create segments of users based on what they're into – a teenager might prefer a pair of Vans sneakers, but a CEO of a company would rather look for Dolce & Gabbana loafers. 

The North Face, for example, has different lifestyle segments such as "explorer," "traveler," "hiker," "extreme athlete," etc., with relevant products. 

For example, the above ad targets the traveler/explorer segment. Psychographics can determine your overall brand personality in line with your customers’ lifestyle. It’s a win-win. 

By highlighting that you understand a person's hobbies, personality or values, you can align your message to better appeal to these groups. This is usually a very difficult and nuanced process, but it can translate into more loyal customers.

Behavioral segmentation

Behavioral segmentation is based on the behavioral patterns and actions of the user on your website: purchase history, favorite items and buying choices. Using this type of segmentation, you can perform certain personalization tactics, for example:

Display a “we missed you” message to a user who hasn’t visited the store for a long time (based on browser cookies or last login)

  • Show a special offer or discount code to reward a returning, loyal customer (based on browser cookies or last login)

  • Send an automated personalized email reminding a user about an abandoned cart

Segmenting users based on behavioral patterns and applying meaningful personalization unlocks different ways to encourage them to stay and continue their shopping journey. 

Timing-based segmentation

Behavioral segmentation can be interaction-based or timing-based. For example, If the user has been ferreting around the website for half an hour but hasn’t found anything to add to the cart, it’s a telltale sign they might need some help. A chatbot could pop up with a prompt like “Haven’t found what you’re looking for? Let me help.”

Behavioral segmentation can be very effective if done correctly – it is also relatively easy to implement, even if you don’t have access to any data about the user. Your users’ behavior and interactions on the website are generally quite easy to track. 

Demographic segmentation

Demographic segmentation is the mainstay of fashion ecommerce – it allows you to group your users according to demographic data. For example, if a user clicks a women-targeted ad on Facebook and lands on your store, you shouldn’t show them men's clothes – and vice versa. 

Demographic segmentation is typically based on data such as: 

  • Gender and age

  • Family status

  • Occupation 

  • Education

To make the shopping experience a little easier for the customer, you could ask relevant questions the very moment they visit the website for the first time. This is a good opportunity to ask them if they want to shop for men’s, women’s or kids’ fashion. Look at the example below from the Björn Borg website.

Demographic segmentation should mesh well with other types of segmentation – usually geographic. It isn’t easy when you don’t have data to support it, but it will work wonders when implemented correctly. For example, it can go hand in hand with demographic segmentation. 

The classic way to do demographic segmentation and use it to your benefit is when someone is shopping by gender.

 

Based on demographic segmentation, the A&F store sends different newsletter content to its subscribers

In fashion ecommerce, running the exact same campaign for both genders will be quite ineffective. Abercombie & Fitch (see the email screenshot above) segments users by gender to send them jeans campaign emails. 

This is demographic segmentation at work – A&F has examined their customer profiles to see what trends appeal to their female customers (e.g., vintage) and what trends appeal to their male customers (e.g., fitted jeans). 

Value-based segmentation

Value-based segmentation, also known as RFM (which stands for Recency, Frequency and Money), will help you determine the value of a user, and who your VIP customers are. Using value-based segmentation, you can create a specific group of high-value users and send them personalized emails, landing pages, or offers. 

Value-based segmentation can be based on:

  • How recently have they purchased something from you? 

  • How big is their average order value?

  • How often do they come back? 

Need-based segmentation

Need-based segmentation helps you determine the next thing the user might need. If the user has bought a Giorgio Armani suit, chances are they might need a pair of shoes or a tie to go with it.

Or, if a user is reading the FAQ section of your website to determine if VAT is included in your pricing, you can detect that behavior and try to answer that question before they slip away to another store that is more explicit about such things.

Technographic segmentation

Technographic segmentation is based on the device they’re using to access your website. This can help you create specific shopping experiences for each device.

There are also many other types of segmentation – as long as it helps you meet your goal, the sky's the limit. Once you have your segments, you can determine a personalization strategy for each specific one, not just for everyone coming to your site. And now you’ve started personalizing.

How segmentation works hand in hand with personalization

Without segmentation, there is no personalization. Before you do any personalization, you need to segment the users according to the various methods discussed before – whichever work best for your specific case. 

Segmentation helps you understand your customer better and discover their needs. If the pattern of their behavior indicates that they need something specific, you can help them find that need or fulfill that need, saving them significant time having to find it themselves using the search box and category pages.

You can also use high-level segmentation, such as behavioral segmentation, to target new users who you know nothing else about. You do not need zero-party data or information about a specific user to understand that they are looking for a black T-shirt when they've gone to five different products that are all black T-shirts. This is an example of how behavioral segmentation can be leveraged to assist your users and provide real value to them. 

Personalizing the home page

Personalization on your homepage is usually impacted by the location of the shopper and the source (where the shopper came from). 

Stronger, for example, implements store-wide personalization based on the location and language of the user. Country and language preferences are set automatically based on the IP of the user, but can also be changed later at any time. After changing the country and language settings, the whole shopping experience changes:

  • The language of the site is updated, including product names and descriptions.

  • Currency is updated across all products.

  • Free shipping thresholds are updated.

  • Estimated delivery times change based on the shopper’s location.

Stronger: Homepage localization settings

Stronger: Estimated delivery times and free shipping threshold change depending on the selected location.

How to personalize the store to new users

Personalizing the home page for users who aren’t logged in is a little more challenging. This is expected, as you know a little about them: usually it’s just their IP and the country they’re visiting from. You can display prices in the correct currency. You might also show an estimated delivery time or inform them about local in-store locations in their city. But this data is not enough for you to implement advanced personalization strategies. For example, you don’t know their size unless they tell you. 

But there is still a lot you can do – even without knowing much about the shopper. For example, based on the date and seasonality, you can show them a discount, or inform them that a new collection is coming. 

The Holzweiler home page displays collections based on seasonality.

The example below shows Stronger’s “Black Week early access” sign-up prompt, giving the shopper exclusive pre-access to Black Week and 20% off their next purchase.

Use behavioral patterns to show relevant products

As discussed earlier, you can use behavioral patterns and interactions on the website to segment them. This is especially effective for guest shoppers. You might learn that they're looking for men's swim shorts because they've typed the terms into the search bar – or visited the category page. 

Their behavioral patterns tell you what they've looked at, what type of colors they've clicked on, and what type of clothes they've looked at. This is useful information for personalizing the shopping experience.

Likewise, if users are looking for products within a specific price category, it’s good to recommend products within that price category. 

If users are looking for a specific color, all your recommended products should be that color. And hopefully, you have preselected that color for the product page.

You may also like: A classic example of using behavior-based personalization

Based on behavioral patterns, you can display other products the user might like or other products they’ve recently viewed. It’s a neat way to show relevant content when there isn’t much information to tap into.

Ask simple questions

You can personalize the shopping experience for guest users by asking them to provide little bits of information. The data you’ll gain will be a little bit more generic than for logged-in users, but it still improves the shopping experience a lot. 

You can then filter products accordingly, or use this information to personalize product pages (more on that later). If a user was looking for XL T-shirts, you could automatically pre-select the XL size for them when they landed on the product page. 

Use quizzes, fit finders, style finders, customer surveys and gift finders

If there isn’t much data you to tap into, you can still learn a lot about your customers by asking them to complete different kinds of style and fit surveys. 

Many apparel businesses use such interactive content to enhance the customer experience. This can provide your customers with personalized recommendations and contribute to a more satisfying experience – and more satisfying purchases. 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using quizzes, fit guides and size finders:

  • Interactive content draws people. No matter what type of apparel you’re selling or the personality of your brand, it’s simple enough to create a quiz that matches your brand theme and voice. 

  • Satisfying quiz results make the customer more likely to convert. They will be more confident about their purchase. Quizzes will also help you find out who your shoppers are and what they value.

  • Relevant questions can help build trust. Asking the right questions positions your brand as a competent subject matter expert – you know your trade well, and are ready to provide helpful advice on what you’re selling. 

  • Easier and faster fashion shopping experience. Considering apparel brands tend to have large product catalogs, quizzes can vastly improve the user experience when customers don't have to endlessly search for the right items. Instead, brands can share their recommended products on a personalized results page.

  • They humanize ecommerce. Because you are openly asking questions rather than using third-party data and shady tactics, the shopping experience becomes more natural and human. Brands that put an emphasis on empathy during the online shopping experience (helping the customer, not just closing a sale) will likely find more success. 

Returning and logged-in users

When you have a returning user, personalization is a lot easier due to more data you can tap into. For example, you can:

  • Adjust the language or allow users to set a language they prefer. 

  • Address possible checkout concerns. Be transparent about applicable taxes, VAT, or duty depending on what country they're purchasing from. You might even want to address where you're shipping from so they can adjust those concerns themselves. 

  • Personalize shipping options. For example, if you say “free shipping from $100,” does that cover international shipping? Also, if you're offering two-day shipping, make sure it applies to the location of the buyer. 

  • Personalize payment methods. Not everyone uses MasterCard, Visa or PayPal.

  • Personalize the home page to align with seasonal or cultural holidays. In America, we have Memorial Day and July 4th, and you might have Independence Day in Greece.You have a different date for Mother's Day in the UK. Ensure you are targeting the correct seasonality and holiday season for each given geography.

  • Personalize to align with cultural differences. Users from certain countries have cultural differences, and might be affected for example if you have a bikini-clad lady on your homepage. Make sure you show respect toward other cultures.

It doesn’t take much data to implement the above personalization strategies – it’s enough to know where the user comes from. 

Everything learned from measurement and segmentation can be used for personalization. Now, on to category and product pages.

Personalizing category and product pages

Listening to your users and making sure they get the shopping experience that responds to their needs by showing your products with their currency, language and shipping options is just the beginning. 

Personalization should also extend to category and product pages, once you’ve segmented your users and determined what is best for them. 

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What to show them
Searched men’s denim jacketsDenim jackets on the category page
Clicked several women’s products Women’s products
Completed a size fit quiz Clothes available in the user’s size

Personalizing product pages

The product page is the most important page in terms of personalization – you ultimately want the customer to buy that product. This is where you need to build their trust and make the experience as easy as possible.

Everything you’ve done until now is to make sure that they see the right product. Once they’re on the product page, make sure that they're seeing what they need to continue that journey. If a user has visited a product page multiple times but hasn’t clicked the “add to cart” button, it tells you that they are probably looking for something they cannot find (size, color, discount). This is where a chatbot could pop up and offer assistance.

Logged-in users have come to expect product pages to be personalized. And it’s easy for a store to do, with all the data points. You know what it is that they're looking for. You have their past purchase data and know their size. 

Personalizing category pages

Category pages list products and offer filters. The way your users use the filters tells you a lot about them – what budget they might be looking at, or what kinds of products they’re currently looking for. They might tell you if they prefer vegan products. They might tell you that they are looking for extra-large T-shirts. Use this data, and don’t show them anything that's not available in extra large.

A category page should make the shopping experience a little easier for the customer. It should increase engagement, and make them then proceed to a specific product page. Personalization on the category page increases engagement. The filters tell you a lot about the shoppers, their budgets, their preferences, etc.

Stronger personalizes the category page to the user’s selected language – from the descriptions to shipping details and payment options. The category page offers advanced filtering by style, collection, category, color, product type and size.

Miss Mary, on the other hand, allows the user to personalize the category page using three categories of detailed filters – narrowing down the results for easier product discovery.


Miss Mary category page filtering options

Softgoat goes even further by adding advanced filtering options on category pages covering colors. In this way, the user can build a custom category page, which only displays products that match their exact needs and preferences.

Soft goat category page filtering options

Personalizing product descriptions

You need to understand what the shopper is looking for when they’re on the product page. For an excellent shopping experience, present clothing items and shoes with local sizing, and translate all the details about the product like fabrics and materials information. 

And if you’re targeting different markets, consider using an alternative product that will be a better fit for particular ones.

Nudie Jeans’ localized detailed product description (after switching the site language to German)

Stronger is another example of an ecommerce store that does personalization well. When you change the language and country settings, all the descriptions are translated into your language, and the currency and shipping options and shipping cost change accordingly.

Stronger product page localization

Personalizing (localizing) currencies

Selling products in local currencies in every market makes the pricing more transparent for the shopper and helps them better understand the price – without having to leave the page and opening a currency converter. This makes transactions as fast and as frictionless as possible to keep cart abandonment rates low.

Ideal of Sweden applies localization based on visitor IP addresses to display local currencies.

Personalizing product reviews  

Consumers tend to make buying decisions based on reviews and the opinions of others. Add localized social proof and product reviews to build your credibility and trust.

When you localize user reviews, endorsements from credible experts or stamps of approval, make sure they look natural and appeal to a given market. 

Keep in mind that product recommendations bring more traffic, since some search engines, including Baidu, even rank them in search results. 

Size recommendations

Because the product page knows the size of the logged-in user, it can recommend the right size for this shoe model. Because shoe sizes differ between actress brands (and sometimes models of the same brand), it’s very useful, as such recommendations are based on the actual length of the foot, and map the size to the sizing chart of a specific brand.

Stronger offers an informative size guide, which provides all the measurement information in both metric and imperial formats.

It also knows the delivery address, so it can tell the shopper the full price of the shoe and the applicable VAT amount (if included). The site also estimates the delivery time based on my location and shipping options. They know what I've purchased in the past. They know what I'm checking out now. They can very quickly figure out what I might like. On a product page, you can do many different things to make a user feel ready to purchase.

The product page is the most important page in terms of personalization – you ultimately want the customer to buy what they’re looking at. This is where you build their trust, and really get them to want to purchase that product. You need to make it as easy as possible.

The purpose of a well-personalized product page is to do the guesswork for the shopper. But what if they're not logged in? 

For many users, entering a keyword in the search bar is the first way to interact with a website. You can personalize the search experience to show the shopper results that are tailored to them based on their profile, including past search history, purchase history, brand preference, product ratings, gender and more.

Instant search

The results change as the user types a query – there is no need to hit the enter key. Search results can be ordered or optimized with personalized products

Autocomplete

With autocomplete, suggestions are shown in the search query window as the shopper types. This should also automatically compensate for any spelling errors.

Filters

Standard search filters work across your entire collection. For example, a filter for “shoes” or “T-shirts.”

Dynamic filters (aka facets)

With autocomplete, suggested filters appear dynamically to help the users narrow down the results.  

Natural language search

The search box understands natural language phrases in different supported languages and can use them to recommend relevant products based on descriptions like “a warm sweater.” Look at the below example from the Lacoste online store. 


Lacoste search box powered by Algolia

Stronger uses similar tactics in their search results. As you type “winter” in the search box, the results will include all clothes and accessories related to the season, even though the search query does not exactly match any particular product name.

Certain site search solution vendors like Search.io (now acquired by Algolia) offer site-wide personalization and recommendations for ecommerce websites. 

Search personalization data

Personalization starts with data. The more demographic and psychographic data you can collect about your customers and visitors, the more sophisticated your personalization can be. This includes stuff such as:

  • Location

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Past purchase history

  • Site search history

  • Pages visited

  • Social media likes

  • VIP or rewards program member status

The data used to personalize the search can also include contextual data such as the browser and viewing preferences, and off-site information such as emails clicked, rewards program credits, ads clicked and more.

Mid-to-large-sized ecommerce companies have begun to invest in building data lakes to store, analyze and leverage customer data across omnichannel marketing touchpoints for real-time search. Even if you are not investing in a data lake, many ecommerce platforms store enough data on their own, which can be used for personalization. 

It is very likely your other company systems – for example, various marketing and email platforms – have a lot of customer data already. All of these systems can be used for search personalization.

For example, if you send a newsletter with product recommendations via Klaviyo or enrich customer data with Nosto, Search.io can reflect those products in search or dynamic collections.

Personalizing the cart 

Personalizing the delivery options

It’s important to properly estimate the delivery times according to the shopper’s location. When consumers receive their orders on time, they are more inclined to become loyal customers. But this is not easy to achieve. International shipping and delivery is challenging with all the logistics, customs, supply chains, compliance regulations and product returns.

The easiest way to ship products internationally is through local warehouses. Certain ecommerce platforms like Centra allow the store to group multiple warehouses to fulfill deliveries to the same market – or use integrations with third parties to fulfill orders according to the user's location. This, in turn, impacts the delivery times and sometimes results in different shipping methods being offered on the checkout page. 

In the example below, the only shipping method for a shopper based in Sweden is Postnord Varubrev, and the delivery time is 1-3 business days. 

When ordering from Greece, the shipping method changes to DHL Paket International, and the delivery time changes to 3-6 business days. In this particular case, the customer is not yet eligible for free shipping. 

Personalizing the payment options

Shoppers expect personalized or location-based payment methods. Some countries prefer specific payment options. Depending on your location, you need to make sure that they have specific checkout options for that location. Also, options such as Affirm and Klarna don't work in every country. Long story short: do not show it to the countries where the option is not available. 

On the Stronger website, Polish shoppers (right) can pay using the local payment service DotPay – alongside credit cards and PayPal. German shoppers (left) can pay with Klarna and GiroPay.

The example above comes once again from Stronger. It shows the expected location-specific personalizations for a checkout page. The cart shows the same product, but the checkout is localized with local currencies and key delivery information. All prices are converted to the selected currency and rounded up to the nearest 0.50 PLN/EUR. 

Also, different payment options are offered depending on the user’s selected location settings. Polish shoppers, alongside credit cards and PayPal, can use the popular local payment service DotPay, whereas German shoppers can pay with Klarna and GiroPay instead – which are not available in Poland. 

The cart also tells the Polish shopper they are not yet eligible for free shipping, indicating the product is not sent from a local warehouse.

On mobile devices, it is much easier to pay using Apple Pay or Google Pay. On a desktop, you could also add PayPal and credit card payments. 

But that’s not all. The checkout page is also a great place to personalize the upselling and cross-selling of products.

Cross-selling

Cross-selling is the practice of encouraging customers to buy related or complementary items. Though often used interchangeably, cross-selling and upselling can mesh together nicely. Apart from increasing the AOV, these methods provide maximum value to customers.

On the checkout page, personalization takes a different angle. This is when things get really personal. They'll start by giving their name, addresses, phone number and email. And if they're a returning user, you already have that information if they've purchased from you in the past. 

Cross-selling could also be done on the checkout page. You can have the user go through every step of the checkout, and just before paying or processing the payment:

  • Look at what you're offering and see what the user can add to that. “Why don't you just add this as well?” 

  • Are they buying three white T-shirts? “Buy five, and you'll get 10% off.”

  • Do they always buy eggs when they purchase from you, and they didn't this time? Remind them to get those eggs. 

As a sports fashion brand, Stronger also does this well. For example, the product page for women’s tights will show you the localized price, color, and size options, along with some upselling options. 

Stronger’s upselling options encourage the shopper to add more products to the cart, which is rewarded with a gift: a free beanie.

But that’s not all. When you scroll down, you’ll see the “Fancy these?” section with recommendations for similar products or ones that match the style and color of the product you’re currently browsing.


Upselling

Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product instead of the one in the cart. It’s a method of personalization based on the explicit purchase intent of the buyer. This can include offering other complementary products, additional discounts and gift packaging. 

But upsells do not have to be only about products – they can be insurance, extended warranty, faster shipping, a VIP club membership or loyalty card, or additional insurance (e.g., a protective case or accidental damage protection for the mobile phone).

Stronger upsells on the checkout page, displaying recommendations of other products that might go well with the purchase.

If the product combo makes sense, it might actually increase the order value. If the person is clearly buying gym tights, why not offer them a gym combination lock? 

Based on favorites and browsing history, Stronger recommends similar products.

Complete the style with other favorites – Stronger helps the shopper find products that go well together.

Upselling does not have to be limited to the cart page – it can also be done on the thank you page when the customer has already paid for the purchase, but you think something would go really well with it. 

The cart, checkout and thank you pages all offer personalization opportunities. Not because you can prefill the information you know, but because it is a chance to get to know your customer better and build a long-term relationship with them.

Pre-filling information for the user

There are some things you do not want to skip on your checkout page: pre-filling customer information if you have it, localizing the shipping options (as well as if they can pick up in-store and when and how), localizing payment options, making sure you are only showing relevant payment options and payment options that will work in that country, and making sure you're offering device-specific payment options.

If you know any of the user's information (because they might have entered it into a pop-up or quiz, or they’re logged in), they expect you to at least have pre-filled the fields you're asking for. If you know the person's country, prefill the country field in the form. They also expect to see personalized shipping options. 

Personalizing the post-purchase experience

Personalization is not just about your website. It continues beyond the checkout and the thank you page, in your emails – for example, you can track how your shoppers interact with your newsletter.

Keeping the relevant conversation going after purchase is key, and timing is a huge element. 

Don't blanket send everything to everyone who has purchased something from you – you will run the risk of being irrelevant and thus ignored. Make sure that every campaign provides value to each user. 

For example, if you know that your user prefers clothes that are sustainably produced, send them campaigns focusing on that. Don't send them the campaigns that say 50% off everything in the store. Stay relevant, and make it more personal. For example, you can send them a campaign that says “our conscious collection is now 75% off,” which aligns with their values.

Order tracking page

You can display personalized offers on the delivery tracking page. It makes all the sense in the world, as this is where users regularly come back to track their orders. 

For example, you might just remind them again about the loyalty club you have, or how they can become a VIP customer, or what additional items they might like, or give them a specific offer because they're voluntarily going to that page — tell them to purchase within the next 30 days, and they'll get 25% off. These are all great ways to take all the information you’ve collected and show relevant offers on that tracking page, but they are also a nice way to keep the user engaged and maybe extend that conversation on that journey with you as a brand logger. 

Birthdays

Birthdays provide a great opportunity (and actual reason!) to reach out to customers. However, a common mistake here is that the store knows your birthday but doesn't offer anything beyond a generic newsletter to acknowledge it. This is a missed opportunity. But getting a $10 voucher off your next purchase definitely sounds like a thoughtful birthday gift! 

Public holidays

Seasons and public holidays aren’t the only times you can reach out to customers. Other special days are also excellent opportunities to send personalized emails.

Every email marketer will tell you that segmentation is key. So make sure that the email marketing team has the information you're collecting, all of that zero- and first-party data, to be able to push it through their email marketing messages and campaigns. The more they can personalize their campaigns, the more you will be able to benefit from that, and the longer that customer will stay with you. The same goes for messaging. 

Packaging

If this is something within your capabilities, you can also personalize the packaging. This can be a nice handwritten thank-you note or a discount coupon for future purchases. You can also add freebies or product samples to reward their loyalty. 

Personalizing the images

Good images are the mainstay of all ecommerce, but they are especially important for fashion ecommerce. These pictures should evoke a positive emotional reaction in consumers and help them identify the brand. 

You should also localize site images to adjust them to specific cultural contexts. For example, this can include using custom color palettes and graphics to align store design with the local audience, or styling models differently based on seasonal or festive events to get the most out of localization.


For a detailed guide on product photography for fashion ecommerce, head over to an in-depth post on our blog.

Known vs. unknown visitors

Generally speaking, the more data you have about someone, the more you can personalize results. If your customers are logging into their accounts and have a shopping history – pages visited, products purchased, gender, age, etc. – you can easily personalize.

However, even if they’re not logged in and you don’t know who your visitors are, search can still be personalized using browser type, IP location, time of day or year, mobile vs. desktop, and other attributes. 

For example, you might promote different winter clothing to someone in Florida vs. someone in Minnesota. Even though you don’t know their gender, age or purchase history, you can promote products based on their IP location.

Last words

Personalization can be a great way to improve the customer experience on your ecommerce website. Evidence shows you can increase conversion rates and order values by showing relevant products to users

Because one-time customers won’t make your business grow, you need to constantly strive to inspire loyalty and trust. To do that, you need to get to know your shoppers better, and understand their needs and habits. You need to know how to segment them, but also understand what data points are really relevant and important to track. Above all, make sure personalization adds real value for the customers – not just for you.

Implement the insights and strategies in this post in your marketing strategy, and make the shopping experience specific to the shopper.