The Future of Retail Is Personal

By providing a highly customized shopping experience, retailers are much more likely to increase revenue, reduce returns and establish customer loyalty.
Irina Sulejmanović headshot
Irina Sulejmanović
Expert Contributor
September 14, 2020
Updated: September 17, 2020
Irina Sulejmanović headshot
Irina Sulejmanović
Expert Contributor
September 14, 2020
Updated: September 17, 2020

Personalization is the key to the future of the apparel industry.

From creating completely custom garments to utilizing AI innovations that deliver a personalized shopping journey for customers, retailers are looking to leverage technology to help achieve personalization initiatives quickly and take the lead in the new era of shopping.

At the onset of online shopping, retailers wanted to maximize the unlimited “real estate” of the internet, adding more products to appeal to a broader audience while increasing average order volumes and returning customers. However, with page after page of product listings, shoppers have become overwhelmed, resulting in choice paralysis, abandoned carts, and frustration.

To solve this challenge, retailers must provide in-store personalization to online shoppers. Stores have had personal shoppers for decades, assisting with unique requests and needs to ensure a positive experience for the customer and a successful sale for the retailer.

So how do online retailers create this level of personalization for their customers? The answer is through technology, which can be deployed to develop an online shopping journey tailored to each individual shopper no matter where they are.

2018 Guiding Metrics study found that the average e-commerce consumer will visit only 5.4 pages on a retailer’s website. So it is critical that those 5.4 pages only showcase the most relevant items. By using AI, retailers can harness data — such as shopper behavior, sales and return records and consumer-preference inputs — to create a completely personalized experience for each shopper.

In a two-month A/B test, Canadian fashion giant Simons ran an experiment in which shoppers were served personalized and compelling products based on their shopping journey and their size and fit preferences. The results were enlightening. Showing fewer but more personalized products based on that customer led to increases of 10 percent in net revenue, 5 percent to the average order value, and a 2 percent higher conversion rate. By providing a customized shopping experience that only shows garments in a customer’s size and style, retailers are much more likely to increase revenue, reduce returns and establish customer loyalty.

API integrations allow retailers to quickly adopt the latest personalization technologies into their sites. Style-matching algorithms analyze user journeys, purchase records, imagery, popularity and other attributes to build an index of similarity across a retailer’s assortment. Technology that combines personalization and returns-reduction features into a powerful search extension that delivers a custom assortment of products most likely to be bought and kept by each shopper.

These experiences can and should cross channels, following the customer whether they’re browsing online, in-store or in native app environments by using unique customer IDs. This allows each customer journey to be an individual and streamlined experience, transforming the impact of each visit.

For years, the retail industry has hunted for ever-better personalization technologies that can provide a unique shopping experience for each individual customer. This customized approach can result in each shopper controlling their search, finding the products they desire and no longer needing to return items.

That future has finally arrived, and retailers must make personalization a priority if they want to succeed in the new era of shopping.

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