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Best Personalization Practices for Apparel Online Retailers

Posted by Paul Kaye on Jul 30, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Personalization practices for apparel online merchants

Have you ever tried to find words to describe a certain taste, texture or color but couldn’t quite capture it? A “sort of smoky” flavor, a “smooth-ish” finish, a “blue-ish” light? Those descriptions are perfectly fine to use in your next text or tweet, but businesses don’t make money using “sort-ofs” and “-ishes” to inform their retail personalization strategy.

Instead, online retailers are turning to recommendation engines that take the intangible essence of how consumers are interacting with their sites—and turning them into actionable data that allows them to create an increasingly personalized customer experience. Apparel retailers are especially benefitting from this analytical insight. Proven best practices are emerging based on big data-driven personalization successes by front-runners in the space.

 Apparel personalization—specific tactics.

Through years of experience, we have seen the trials and errors of what works best when it comes to apparel personalization tactics. Here are a few easy-to-implement ideas to get you started:

  • Remove price from email recommendations.
  • Recommend higher priced alternatives on the item page.
  • Strategically place recommendations to keep external search traffic onsite.
  • Apply user segmentation to recommendations.
  • Always offer “Complete the Look” and complementary clothing items recommendations options on the product and shopping cart pages.
  • Personalize your category list pages.

But, says Kathy Kimple, vice president and senior consultant at FitForCommerce, an e-commerce consultancy, knowing just what best practices to take is not a one-size-fits all solution. “Personalization is a broad and complex topic…it is not a string of several isolated tactics but rather an overarching strategy.”

Apparel personalization from a 50,000-foot view.

Keeping with the “best practices-as-a-strategy” approach vs. best practices as a list of step-by-step tactics, certain best practices “categories” emerge. These categories can be customized with tactics matching an apparel retailer’s specific needs and resources.

 Personalization by customization

Examples of providing apparel shoppers a customized experience include the numerous personal stylist approaches retailers are using by leveraging big data. A good example is apparel subscription service trailblazer, StitchFix , who relies on answers to relevant questions and social media insight from places such as Pinterest to build a custom wardrobe for each client. Their personalization story along with other entrepreneurial retail moves were discussed and can be viewed at this recent high-tech forum titled Click-to-Fit. How Startups are Personalizing Fashion.

Personalization by recommendation

In addition to the availability of apparel customization options, recommendation technology is helping apparel retailers meet increasing demand for relationship and authenticity in the shopping experience. Recommending apparel options based on prior purchases, locations and stated preferences are just some of the things that recommendation engines are able to do to personalize the experience. Subtlety, of course, is key. Some of the strongest recommendation engines derive profit-changing customer insight using a complex set of algorithms to help retailers tell shoppers what’s trending, complete a look, relay what similar shoppers bought, trigger email campaigns and create personalized promo banners—all with quiet, unflinching authenticity.

 Personalization by omni-channel relevance

Just leveraging big data to give apparel shoppers the right, personalized piece at a mutually-beneficial price point is not enough. Omni-channel relevance means making sure that you’ve personalized their shopping journey from the moment an idea to purchase comes to mind to the ultimate apparel purchase, delivery and shopper’s return visit. Discovering what electronic channels consumers are using along their journey (tablet, smart phone, desktop device) and responding appropriately with a fluent, yet non-invasive shopping experience is key.  

If you’d like to find out how Strands can help you implement personalization best practices for your business, contact us at any time. 

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Topics: Social Commerce

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