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Tips for personalised ecommerce and the savvy eshops that inspire them

Personalised ecommerce. It’s all about data.

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Every click, purchase, like, share or pin executed on a website has the potential to allude to your tastes. How eshops use that information effectively is a tricky business indeed.

But now, the age of collected and then curated information, is upon us — and we’re here to help you.

One could argue that there are two divisions of personalised ecommerce. They aren’t necessarily distinct in that their end-goal is the same — to get you to buy more things — but that they operate in different manners, and play on different psychological needs for buyers.

The first division is that of personalised products. This plays on the psychology of exclusivity.

A site like Uncrate only posts five new products a day. I’m sure they have plenty of products they could post, but they purposely limit what they post to give an air of quality.

After all, if you only post five products a day, those five are going to be stellar aren’t they?

Moonpig works in a similar fashion. It takes commercial designs of greeting cards, but allows you to personalise the captions. This provides unique products that are customisable. Personal and one-of-a-kind products are the greatest examples of this. It doesn’t hurt that your customers get a sense of power over their purchase either.

Whimsical Nomad, an “Online Boutique”, may offer a few types of products from fashion to homeware to their popular roses (available in more colours than you’d expect), yet these are luxury items. It’s not just a rose, it’s a lifestyle.

Whimsical Nomad’s blurb sums up personalised products quite beautifully:

Whimsical Nomad brings you an exclusive range of luxury finds from around the world… from thoughtful gifts to breath-taking bridal jewellery.

Our products are hand-selected with the discerning customer in mind, and we strive to bring you the very best in quality and convenience. Our services include specialty gift-packaging and door-to-door priority delivery.

We hope you enjoy shopping with us.

Exclusive. Luxury. Thoughtful. Hand-selected. The Discerning Customer. Quality. Convenience. Specialty.

These are the tenets that every personalised eshop should have, especially if it focuses on its products.

The second division, personalised interface is also key to success in the ecommerce game. While personalised products exude an air of exclusivity, personalised interface plays on the psychology of power (with regards to content creation), and speaks to our social nature.

Sites like Wanelo and Etsy are essentially marketplaces for other merchants to sell their goods. The kicker is that the content is curated by its users — or should I say community.

Community is central to the personalised interface. Humans, after all, are the best filters around — that’s the theory at least. These sites function by having the users curate the content into what is commonly called “trends”. It takes information from “the-many” and packages it neatly for the “individual” to give them a better experience of the site.

Ownsa takes this a step further by simplifying the interface. It asks its users for two types of information — what they “own” and what they “want”. Hover over a product and two large buttons appear. There’s only two choices, so users are more likely to engage. This is key to curating information and getting an active community.

Finally the idea of taste experts prevails on these types of sites. Stylepath asks users to create a “style profile”. From there, users rate images and the site’s editors choose products according to those ratings. On one hand, your community can function as your taste experts, or you can ask your community for information so that your site can appear as a ‘taste expert’ unto itself. As long as it is simple and inviting, people will either create the content your site needs, or engage with the content on the site that you provide.

The real kicker is to make this all social. Pinterest is the Queen of social ecommerce. Business pages function as eshops and in a lot of ways can be more effective, in terms of sales, than the actual eshops themselves.

At the end of the day it is all about the user’s experience of your eshop no matter whether you focus on a personalised interface (community, curation) or personalised products (uniqueness, appearance of quality).

People love to tangibly engage with the items they buy, but doing that online isn’t exactly possible. The trick is to control every aspect of how your users engage with your eshop — from the visuals to the design and feel of the site.

There is no cut and dry formula to success in the ecommerce game but what I’ve discussed above indicates to what is driving current successes. Your user experience, after all, is what will shape whether they click “buy” or not.

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