How Product Customization Can Bridge the Gap Between Retail and Ecommerce

Updated 2 months ago
Lindsay Vine
March 3, 2021
5 min read

Did you take your brand direct-to-consumer (D2C) last year? If so, you were a part of the biggest shift toward digital shopping in history.

Online sales represented 21.3 percent of all purchases in the U.S. for 2020.

That’s one in five purchases that were completed online – 44 percent more than in 2019.

However, retailers are quickly discovering that customers are bringing more than just their spending online. They’re also bringing their expectations. 

Bridging the gap between the in-store retail and ecommerce shopping experiences has never been more crucial. Here’s why you must bridge the gap, what you need to do, and how product customization can help.

The Gap Occurs When Your Focus Wanders

Here’s something to think about. When you walk into a clothing store and peruse the items, who is the main focus? What is the experience about?

With few exceptions, it’s rarely the brand that’s at the forefront. Instead, displays like mannequins help people visualize what the clothing would look like on them. Accessible racks let customers touch, inspect, and experience the product firsthand. Mix-and-match spreads of accessories let people customize their look, building a collection of products that suits them to a T.

If the brand is truly savvy, there’s even an attendant there ready to offer thoughtful, personalized recommendations based on observation and the customer’s input.

The in-store shopping experience focuses entirely on the customer. 

Is your digital store doing the same thing?

Unless you’re offering things like product customization and personalized shopping experiences, there’s a good chance it’s not.

Online product customization and personalization used to be features reserved for luxury brands.

These days, any brand looking to elevate the ecommerce experience to or beyond in-store shopping must incorporate both. Doing so is one of the best ways to stand out in an increasingly crowded digital shopping marketplace.

According to McKinsey, today’s customers expect more than just an efficient, effortless online transaction. They want a seamless, personalized experience with all of the benefits of shopping in-store – in the comfort and safety of their living rooms.

They want the chance to peruse your products, pick out their favorite, then customize it to suit their needs. They want to know exactly what it looks like, to envision it in their lives before it arrives, and experience the thrill when they discover it’s exactly what they hoped for – or more! 

To begin closing the gap between your retail and ecommerce experiences, first ask yourself: Does your ecommerce shop promote your brand or the awesome experience your customers get to have while shopping on your site?

How to Use Product Customization to Make Ecommerce Experiential

It’s easy to start an ecommerce site. 

A whole array of providers exists out there, many of which offer quick-start templates to get your shop up and running in minutes.

But do you want that cookie-cutter online shop that looks exactly like the competition?

(Hint: No, you don’t.)

However, brands looking to differentiate themselves need to think beyond how they present themselves online. In particular, they must identify ways to deliver more value and a better overall experience.

Enter product customization. It’s one of the most powerful ways to do both at the same time.

Here’s what you do.

1. Use a Configurator to Present Options With 3D Visuals

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to up your visualization game. Big time.

Quality product visuals can increase conversion rates by as much as 50 percent, but that’s not all they can do. 

They can give your customers a means to interact with the product in much the same way that they might at the store.

While they can’t touch and smell it, most product customization software out there can showcase a product from every angle, with a variety of materials or colors in real time.

And if you want to be really clever with it, you can combine this with augmented reality. Now, your customers not only see it in 3D, but they can imagine themselves wearing the item or having it in their home.

2. Encourage Your Customers to Show Off Their Creations

It’s well known that product customization is a powerful way to increase your average order value without a lot of heavy lifting on your part. 

It can also be a powerful community-building feature that increases your brand’s reach while letting your customers feel like they’re a part of something special.

Consider creating a means for your customers to show off their creations. You can do this either through the creation of a hashtag on social media or by creating a customization lookbook that potential customers can peruse. 

Check out how Franklin Sports shows off their customers’ unique creations:

Via Franklin Sports

3. Find Ways to Blend the Digital and In-Store Experiences

The pandemic forced many businesses to turn to the internet to survive, but that does not mean that in-store shopping is no longer relevant.

Brands that are ahead of the curve are already experimenting with the use of online customization merged with the in-store experience.

Imagine walking into a store, picking out a product, and then customizing its exact appearance on an iPad. 

Or imagine building a product online first, then heading down to the store to experience it before purchasing.

It’s not just convenient – it leaves you feeling like you’re investing in value rather than just buying a product.

Both of these things are not just possible, but practical when you’ve got a solid product configuration software powering your ecommerce site.

Check out how Kendra Scott has taken their online jewelry customization experience to the next level with Kendra Scott Color Bar™ Parties.

Via Kendra Scott

Configure Your Brand for Success. We Can Help.

Product customization has a lot of benefits. For customers, it means getting the quality product that they want with the personal touch they desire. For brands, it means higher margins, increased brand loyalty, and more chances to create utterly amazing customer experiences. 

It’s also the best way for you to bridge the gap between the in-store retail and ecommerce shopping experiences. It can help you shift away from the brand-focused digital marketing that is so common to a customer-focused and highly personalized way of presenting your products. In the process, it’s also creating powerful new strategies for brands to blend the online and in-person shopping experiences. 

The future is custom, no matter where it occurs.

Request a demo now and discover how to jump-start product customization for your brand with ConfigureID’s premium product personalization platform. 

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