personalize customer experience online store

Personalize Your Online Store’s Customer Experience with Magento Extensions

Online shoppers expect a customized experience now, with stores showing them the types of products they like before they have to spend a lot of time searching. But an eMarketer report from earlier this year found that only slightly more than half of retailers offer any type of customized web experience for shoppers.

survey of marketers personalized customer experience

Many retailers customize their email marketing messages, but not the experiences in their online store. Those that don’t are leaving money on the table and losing the loyalty of customers who want to be recognized.

Here’s what you need to know about personalizing your customers’ experience in your online store.

The desire for a personalized shopping experience is nearly universal. The majority of Millennial and Gen X shoppers  want retailers to know their preferences and are willing to share personal data with stores in order to save time and help them find the items they want quickly.

consumer preference for personalization by age group

It’s not only young consumers who want a made-to-fit experience, either. A Deloitte report from 2015 found that consumers over age 55 are the most likely to order up a personalized vacation package. Catering to these desires can translate into better sales and stronger customer loyalty. Among retailers who have personalized their sites and mobile apps for customers, 48% reported a rise in sales of more than 10%.

Personalization can take many forms, from “other products you may like” to clothing in preferred sizes and colors to the timing of offers for particular products. Retailers who have some control over the manufacturing process can offer product customization options, which are increasingly in demand.  Let’s look at four ways to give each customer a personalized experience in your store.

Customize your shop to meet customer expectations

Magento lets you set up your shop the way you want it to reflect your brand and stand out from “off the rack” store layouts.

The Magento Marketplace offers store owners more than 1,800 extensions to help you add the features and functions your customers expect. More than 700 of those extensions focus on store content presentation, search, review, and customization options. If you can’t find exactly what you and your customers want, Magento’s open-source code means you can have something custom-built to suit your needs.

Let’s look at some of the extensions that provide personalized product recommendations, targeted social media ads, and product-customization tools for your store.

Suggest “other products you may like”

More than 80% of online shoppers in North America want stores to serve up product recommendations for them. Most major retailers already do this –  the best known example is Amazon’s suite of product recommendations, ranging from new Kindle titles to clothing, food, and other items based on your past purchases and searches.

Your smaller online store can build customer loyalty by offering similar recommendations with Magento extensions that use customers’ data to show suggestions. Softcube’s highly popular extension needs as few as two clicks from new customers to start serving product recommendations based on customer preferences, sizes, and more. The developer says its personalization extension can boost sales by as much as 20%.

Tailor your offers to your customers’ habits and needs

Another Magento extension, Nosto, supplies personalized product recommendations along with tools to bring customers back to your store, through personalized emails and Facebook retargeting. Nosto also gives your store the ability to reach “lookalike customers” (with demographics similar to your existing customers) through personalized Facebook ad campaigns.

Nosto Facebook advertising online store

Nosto and similar tools can help your store make the right offer at the right time – the “contextual relevance” that retail-industry watchers say is one of the keys to surviving and thriving in the time of Amazon and Google’s micro-moments.

Offer co-created items and a menu of custom options

Suggesting the right products at the right time is one aspect of personalizing the customer experience. Letting customers personalize their product choices is another.

Made-to-order clothing, shoes, and other goods used to be reserved for the very wealthy and the lucky friends and families of craftspeople. Now platforms like Etsy make it easy for shoppers to request personalized items from artisans, and e-commerce tools like Magento offer the same type of options for standalone online stores.

Meanwhile, artists and small manufacturers can tailor production to each online customer’s preferences—a new phenomenon known as “mass personalization.” For example, Shoes of Prey sells customized shoes online. Shoppers can choose not only size and style but color, heel type and height, materials, and embellishments and have their design made to order and delivered within a couple of weeks.

Customize online store

This type of customization isn’t limited to $150 pumps, either. Jewelry designers, kids’ clothing makers,  sticker artists and many other small business owners offer custom options in the online stores.

To give your customers these options in a Magento-powered store, you’ll need an extension. Two of the most popular for product customization are Product Personalization by SM Design and Personalized Products by Milople. Milople’s offering lets shoppers add art and text to your stock products, make color and font choices, and more. SM Design’s extension lets you customize the personalization options for your products and gives you the option to show the personalization details at checkout.

More personalization = more sales

All these personalization options take some time to research, choose, test, and put in place, but they can put your store ahead of the competition. More personalization can lead to better customer retention, more sales to your existing customers, and more new customers brought in through ads that show products tailored to their interests. If you’re just starting out and planning your store, check out HostGator’s Magento hosting packages that include email marketing tools for your new business.