[2021 Guide] Advanced eCommerce Personalization- 13 In-Depth Examples

Ecommerce personalization multiplies conversions, increases AOV, and creates relevant customer touch-points.

Despite this reality, many brands fail implementing personalization. This guide is built to help you succeed.

We've pulled ecommerce personalization examples, screenshots, and specific best practices. You skip straight to the examples here, or read on to get an overview of personalization.

Free Bonus (no opt-in): Click here to see the 4 biggest challenges in personalization, and what questions you need to ask before selecting a vendor.

What ecommerce personalization is

Personalization is the real-time customization of a customer’s buying journey.

Unfortunately, many marketers execute the low hanging fruit and feel that they’re done. In reality, most are just hitting the tip of the iceberg.

There are unlimited ways you can personalize your store.

eCommerce Personalization beyond the basics

Types of ecommerce personalization

1. Website personalization -creating personal web experiences

Website personalization alters a site based on who is viewing it. Common tactics include dynamic content, messages, visuals, and offers for each individual shopper.

The three most popular KPI's for website personalization are:

  • Average Session Duration: Are your prospects spending more time on your site?
  • Increased Product Engagement: Are your prospects viewing more product pages and adding more products to their cart?
  • Increased Orders: Are you converting more prospects to real customers?

You can personalize virtually any aspect of your ecommerce website. Below we have collected a number of the most impactful website personalization areas you can consider in your personalization strategy.

Offers

Offers are the single most important aspect of your site to personalize.

You can customize the product itself, the price shown, impose time limits, or change the supporting copy and visuals supporting the offer.

Inline Content

After you've personalized your offer, you should focus on how you are educating and motivating your prospects while they are on the site.

Personalize the content that is presented in front of your customers. You can change which featured products are shown, blog posts, downloadable assets, or hero images on any page.

Above, Amazon uses inline content personalization to highlight various Mother's Day offers. 

Pop-Ups

Pop-Ups represent a "second net" or opportunity to progress your prospects when they are about to leave.

When combined with behavioral targeting, pop-ups have many use cases.

If your site leverages pop-ups, you should optimize conversions by personalizing both the content and offer. All types of pop-ups can be personalized including browse abandonment, on-click, timed, on-scroll, and any other type.

Information Bars

Lastly, Information Bars and other call-out offers continue to be an effective way to maximize value of each site visitor.

Personalizing information bars can be as simple as offering different shipping rates depending on location to offering higher priced items to returning visitors who are in the top 25% of your AOV in past orders.

2. Personalized product recommendations - combining merchandizing, customer data, and wisdom of the crowd

Personalized product recommendations are, perhaps, the single most impactful personalization tactic for ecommerce. 

While you may be most familiar with product recommendations being placed on websites, you can use them across channels from social media to email. For that reason, we categorize them apart from other website personalization tactics above into their own category.

Some retailers are leveraging personalized product recommendations much more effectively than others.

When used correctly, product recommendations increase the average number of items in the cart by 68.14% and increase conversion rates by an incredible 320%.

"Best Sellers" product recommendations

One of the original product recommendation templates remains the most effective. People trust the crowd's recommendation.

Best Seller recommendations are great when you do not know a lot about your prospect. It gives you the best chance of suggesting something that fits their particular needs.

However, it is after you collect more information about your prospect that this type of suggestion becomes powerful.

Personalized "best seller" recommendation widgets perform twice as effective as those that are not personalized.

"You Might Also Like" product recommendations

Items are based on currently viewed items.

You should personalize the recommendations based on other website behavior or past purchases and determine if you should upsell by displaying higher-end alternatives or down sell and display lower priced products.

Using product recommendations for Cross Selling

This tactic shifts from suggesting similar products to complimentary ones.

By offering complementary products you can increase average order value by educating the customer on how to make their current selection better in some way.

"What Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item" product recommendations

These recommendations help the customer navigate through your catalogue.

You should consider this type of personalization when you product list is large.

3. Social messaging - communicating user generated content in impactful ways

Reviews & Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials are fantastic at establishing trust. 

Reviews can be used to steer customers during product discovery, establish trust, and ultimately increase conversions. 

"Follow the heard" social messages

These messages communicate when others are purchasing a product. Typically they are displayed in a non-obtrusive way as small pop-ups that self close after a few seconds. 

Follow the heard messages work because they show a product's popularity. They also give a sense of security to the purchase. 

"Urgency" social messages

There are a number of ways social messages can create urgency. Simply placing dynamic product labels such as "in high demand" or "best sellers" let customers know that others may purchase the same product. 

Going a step further, messages should communicate how many places or items in stock remain. Bookings.com does an excellent job of manufacturing urgency in their social messaging. 

3. email personalization - creating personal email experiences

Lastly, eCommerce stores should extend their personalization efforts beyond their site.

Email remains the most essential communication channel, and personalizing your correspondence will multiply your results. You can see all triggered email stats in this study (including cart abandonment, browse abandonment, post-purchase, visit summary, and more).

A "triggered email" is sent based on some sort of user action. The most common type of triggered email is a cart recovery email, which is sent when a customer places an item in their cart but leaves without completing their purchase.

We've written extensively on triggered and cart abandonment emails before.

However, it is worth noting some of the most common ways you can personalize triggered emails.

Update: Since publishing this guide, we've published an in-depth break down of eCommerce triggered email marketing with examples here.

Demographic based personalized emails

The most common types of personalizations for triggered emails are demographic.

Dynamically inserting a prospect's name in the subject line is a common tactic to call out attention in the sea of emails.

Session based personalized emails

The next most common type of personalizations are session based.

Common tactics include inserting products' names, images, and dates into the subject line or body of the email.

These personalization tactics ensure that your email is relevant, following up on known wants of your prospect.

Recommendation based email personalizations

The next most common type of personalizations are session based.

Common tactics include inserting products' names, images, and dates into the subject line or body of the email.

These personalization tactics ensure that your email is relevant, following up on known wants of your prospect.

Advanced ecommerce personalization examples

the most effective way to learn personalization is through examples.

Feel free to add these ecommerce personalization examples to your own swipe files as you consider how to create your own personalized experiences. 

1. Using inline content personalization to increase conversions (ft. Thrive Market)

Inline Content Personalization example

Thrive Market is excellent at personalizing every aspect of the customer journey.

During on-boarding, I defined "Paleo" as one of my interests. When I return to the store's homepage, I see a series of offered content from their blog.

Each post is tailored to my known interest of "Paleo". It is a perfect example of how to execute personalized in-line content.

2. Removing friction by personalizing default product attributes based on geography (ft. Butterfly Twists)

Web Personalization Location Based Example

Saving time and removing friction is one of the best uses of personalization.

This is crucial when your store serves multiple locations. Here, Butterfly Twist pulls the IP address of my computer and personalizes the product page to default to American sizes.

3. Creating welcome experiences with first time buyer offers (ft. Amaryllis)

New and returning visitors are different.

If a customer is new, they are more price sensitive, have less trust, and fewer established channels that repeat customers. eCommerce personalization allows you to recognize who first time customers are and present them with specific offers.

Above, Amaryllis offers 15% off a first order in exchange for an email.

Below, Home Chef uses a more sophisticated two-step pop-up. When they see that the visitor hasn't ordered before, they open a "secret sale".

4. Creating urgency in deal experiences with first time buyer offers (ft. Home Chef)

Below, Home Chef uses a more sophisticated two-step pop-up. When they see that the visitor hasn't ordered before, they open a "secret sale".

Once clicked, they start the clock at 60 minutes to complete your order to get the $10 bonus credit. This creates a monetary incentive to convert now. After awhile, they remind you that the time is ticking. 

5. Increase AOV with dynamic message bars based on cart contents (ft. Pawstruck)

Pawstruck does an excellent job combining customer psychology with website personalization.

They know shipping is one of the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment. And, they know how much their typical average order is from past orders. And they know how much you just added to your cart.

They combine all this information to create a message bar dynamically placed just below the navigation menu to push customers to increase their order.

Website Personalization: Barilliance helps hundreds of eCommerce stores create relevant, personal customer experiences. Request a demo here.

6. Using dynamic, real time product recommendations inline of product pages (ft. Third Love)

Personalized Product Recommendations

This personalized product recommendation was on their product page.

ThirdLove customizes the products they offer based on the currently viewed product, matching the item with complementary products.

The offer is especially effective because of how ThirdLove executes the entire widget.

  • Copy - "Complete your look" gives their prospects the idea to shop for a complete pair instead of a single item.
  • Matching Colors - The items they suggest are all in the same color as the currently viewed product.
  • Offer - Lastly, they maximize the effectiveness by creating a discount when you purchase three items with their "3 for $27".

7. Adidas and real time product recommendation updates

An even more dynamic example comes from Adidas.

Look how they change their recommended products for the same style shoe, depending on the color chosen.

Matching styles, completing outfits, and expanding awareness are all facilitated in this personalization.

8. Personalize product recommendations based on in-session behavior (ft. Thrive Market)

Thrive Market eCommerce Personalization example product recommednations

As mentioned, best selling product recommendations are twice as effective when they are personalized to your prospect's known affinities.

Thrive knows that I care about Paleo products. Because of this, they don't just show me the highest selling products of their entire site.

Instead, they restrict the offerings to products that match my affinity.

9. Use personalized similar products in email (ft. TheRealReal)

The Real Real Similar Products personalization example

eCommerce brands can (and should) personalize as many customer touch points as possible - including email.

The RealReal sends a personalized similar product widget along with their cart abandonment email. Notice that the offerings are based on what was originally in my cart.

Advanced Product Recommendations:


See how Barilliance uses machine learning to create dynamic product recommendations. Learn more here.

10. Using social messaging to increase conversion rates (ft. Bookings.com)

Bookings.com pioneered live social notifications to increase conversions.

Today, they utilize a number of well tested formats. In the above screenshot, we see distinct fonts, font color, and call out buttons for

  • In high demand - Giving customers a sense of value and security. This call out is heightened by the fact that it was "booked 3 times in the last 24 hours"
  • 3 People Looking Now- This additional call out gives further assurance that this is a good choice
  • In High Demand - only 5 rooms left- Finally, Bookings.com highlights scarcity and limited supply

We did a full tear down of Bookings.com, and identified 8 major personalization tactics they use. You can check out the article here.

11. Creating trust with social messages (ft. Fit Tribe)

Fit Tribe does a great job of matching which live notifications they send to currently viewed products.

You can see how the live notification is sent, communicating how popular the product is and providing additional social proof with details like time purchased, and where in the world the customer came from.

12. Communicate value with dynamic images based on cart content (ft: Kickers)

Social Notifications Personalization

Here, Kickers underlines one of their key benefits: the durability of their shoes.

What is interesting about this notification is how they customized the image to match the item in my cart. This tactic makes the message much more effective. As a prospect, I completely understand that this statement pertains to the items in my cart.

13. Personalized triggered email examples (ft: Kohl's)

We've already broken down triggered cart abandonment email examples in depth here.

I encourage you to check out the post which goes over four of the most effective cart abandonment email templates used by hugely successful eCommerce brands in 2021.

Next Steps

This guide went over the four major ways you can personalize your customer's experience in an eCommerce environment.

If you're ready to select a personalization partner, and want to evaluate how Barilliance can help, schedule a demo here.

However, if you are still building out a personalization strategy, we have other free resources to help:

  • Define Your Goal - What do you want to accomplish with personalization? How will you know you are successful?
  • Determine Capabilities - Your goal will determine which eCommerce personalization strategy you want to start with.
  • Select a Personalization Partner - Finally, you need to select a technology partner that will empower you to accomplish your goals. 

We've put together a clear, step by step worksheet to help you select the best personalization vendor for your needs.

It covers the four biggest challenges in eCommerce personalization, and the most essential questions to ask potential partners to make sure they are capable of overcoming these challenges.

Read how to select your personalization vendor here.