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Retail Insights


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the vast majority of shoppers prefer to shop with merchants who provide product offers and recommendations that feel relevant to them. 

But personalization isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s essential. Over 70% of shoppers say they only engage with personalized messaging. And six in ten shoppers will stop buying from a brand altogether if they’re disappointed with its personalization strategy.

Fortunately, when personalization is done right, it spells good news for brands — including a 20% lift in customer satisfaction and 15% boost in conversion rates.

The stakes are high for merchants. They must be uncannily accurate in reading and predicting their customers’ wants and needs, without crossing the line into creepiness. 

In this guide, we cover six smart ways you can break through the noise with effective personalization, along with real-world examples that illustrate these strategies in action.

  1. Make Product Recommendations Feel Personal

Over 85% of shoppers have purchased something as a result of personalized product recommendations. 

Typically, these are aggregated in a “Related Products” carousel based on the shopping behavior of previous customers. They work because a customer’s interest in a particular product indicates a level of affinity with other customers who purchased that same product.

Retailers can take this type of personalization much further, however, by going from a 1:many to 1:1 scale. For example, Target provides personalized recommendations based not just on what other customers bought, but on a specific customer’s previous purchases.

Shoppers are reminded of their frequently purchased items at various spots throughout the Target app, encouraging them to either buy again or add them to a shopping list. Even more product recommendations show up in search, where Target displays both the person’s recent searches as well as photos of products they have viewed.

  1. Encourage Shoppers to “Complete the Look”

Personalization is key to increasing AOV. Personalized product recommendations can encourage shoppers to buy similar products, as well as complementary products by way of “Complete the Look” recommendations. 

For example, Nordstrom provides a number of “Style Ideas” for each apparel item on their website. The titles, descriptions, and design of these elements have an editorial vibe, which makes them feel curated and personal, instead of creepy. 

  1. Use the Power of UGC

By its nature, user-generated content (UGC) feels more personal, since it’s created by other people, not brands. That’s why displaying reviews and imagery on a product page can lift conversion by as much as 115%.  

But merchants can make UGC feel even more personal with the help of review filters. Filters make it easy for shoppers to quickly locate reviews from people just like them. This puts shoppers in the driver’s seat when it comes to personalization, and there’s nothing creepy about that! 

Filters also help shoppers wade through a sea of UGC, which can become increasingly unmanageable for popular products. For example, even though this best-selling Glossier product has over 3,000 reviews, shoppers can choose a few filters, from skin type to skin tone, and quickly find reviews relevant to them. 

  1. Enable Local Discovery of Popular Products

Do you leverage geotargeting on your ecommerce website? In addition to helping customers find their local store for pickup, it can also be used to curate Best Sellers lists for their city. 

These lists offer a touch of personalization through segmentation, without seeming creepy. They also make Best Sellers lists significantly more relevant to shoppers. For example, the top-selling winter products for Boston will look wildly different than those for San Diego. 

Here’s an example from REI: 

  1. Send Abandoned Cart Emails

As the original form of personalized ecommerce marketing communications, emails deserve a spot on our list. Abandoned cart emails, in particular, are a place where personalization shines. Take the example below, which cleverly “jogs the shopper’s memory” about recently browsed items.

Abandoned cart emails have an impressive 10% conversion rate, which is up to ten times higher than the average ecommerce conversion rate of around 1% to 2%. When shoppers abandon their cart, make sure you send them a targeted email campaign that entices them to come back. Here’s what to include:

  • A personalized subject line that implies urgency
  • Photos of items the person left behind
  • An offer or discount
  • A CTA to buy now, with a link to their cart

The most successful abandoned cart emails leverage personalization. Learn more in our guide to crafting the perfect abandoned cart email. 

  1. Empower Shoppers to Get More Value From Their Purchase

Merchants can continue to strengthen relationships with customers after checkout by sending order follow-up emails. These may provide tips or suggest cross-sells to help them make the best use of their purchase.

Whatever the approach, the customer comes away feeling better equipped to use their product, and appreciative that the retailer sent them something so personalized. 

Here’s an example from Sephora, where the brand offers “pro tips” for the shopper to use their recently purchased products:

Get Ecommerce Personalization Right

To paraphrase Goldilocks, consumers expect merchants to get personalization just right. Create the perfect mix of personalized product recommendations, UGC, and email marketing, and you can make a customer’s online shopping experience feel much more personal — and sell more as a result. 

Personalization can lift all the metrics ecommerce merchants care about, from conversion to AOV. So can offering BNPL at checkout. Zip merchants enjoy an average 20% increase in topline sales, 60% increase in AOV, and 80% increase in repeat customer rate. Learn more here, and add our BNPL solution to your checkout today.


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