As early as the 1970’s many declared mass customization would change the face of the US economy. This is evident from the futurist Alvin Toffler’s early prediction 1 of mass customization up through Joseph Pine’s book Markets of One in 20002, as well as his more recent book on the Experience Economy3. Although it took some time, more and more big brands as well as smaller vendors have the technology and supply chains in place to offer many varying kinds of customized and personalized items.
The eCommerce industry in particular is perfectly suited as a means for the one-on-one communication needed for suppliers to define the degrees of freedom available for the product and for end-users to customize the exact version of the product that meets their specific desires, taste and needs.
Going beyond personalization of content in eCommerce sites, I’d like to introduce the concept of interactive eCommerce.
Interactivity occurs when the brand and product interact with a user before he or she even becomes a customer, creating a uniquely tailored social experience. This experience encourages such strong individual self-expression and actualization that it creates a powerful psychological experience, along with the feeling that the product is highly valuable.
No longer is the user a passive viewer of content prepared by the website’s administrator. Rather, users become active in creating their own versions of products by mixing and matching different products, creating unique mixes and interactions with products, brands and content on the website. Interactive users take it one step further by extending the dialog to their online hangouts — Whatsapp, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media platforms.
Interactive eCommerce is Web 2.0 for eCommerce
Whereas most early websites simply took the standard mail-order catalog experience and brought it online, interactive eCommerce lets users play an active role in the shopping experience. Web 2.0 did this by allowing user-generated content onto site pages. Interactive eCommerce similarly engages users in ways that were not possible in the past.
Companies successfully implementing interactive eCommerce create such a uniquely interactive experience that it effectively kills the old mail-order catalog paradigm. Take for instance Ztailer, an online retailer who lets customers schedule local tailors to come to their home or office to individually tailor the clothes to fit. After confirming the fit, additional adjustments are paid by Ztailer 4.
A more extreme example is MooseJaw, whose goal included establishing a brand that sought to become the most fun outdoor retailer on the planet. It was this goal that led them to create a Valentine’s Day MooseJaw Break-Up Service allowing the company to break up with a customer’s significant other for them. The “customized breakup” included three reasons the customer wanted to end things, in addition to three assets of his significant other meant to help cushion the blow 5.
Creating Invaluable Interactive Experiences
Let me share with you three additional examples of vendors who are successfully creating valuable interactive eCommerce experiences for their customers.
The first, Candy.com, is a Doogma customer who will soon be launching Candy for every occasion with Design Your Own wrappers of favorite candies such as Hershey Bars and Kit Kats. In the opening screen, the user views tens of fabulous pre-made designs that users can immediately personalize by adding the names of their loved ones, important dates and even upload desired photographs and add custom text. The entire design process can be completed within just a few minutes. Once customers engage in the experience of uploading photos of their uniquely customized candy and sharing them with their spouse and kids, they are much more likely to complete the purchase. It’s harder for them to say no to a purchase which they’ve become so deeply involved in creating.
Customized Hershey’s wrapper from Candy.com
Another example is our customer Everything Summer Camp, the company gives kids going away to summer camp the opportunity to customize the footlocker they take to camp. These millennial customers engage in a high level of creative self-expression that approaches self-actualization, ranked by Maslow 6 as the highest fulfillment of human needs.
To speak to someone about customization click here.
Customized footlocker from Everythingsummercamp.com
Along with this ability to provide customers with self-expression and self-actualization, interactivity offers numerous other benefits. Interactivity increases brand loyalty by giving customers ownership of their product, leading to more involved and satisfied customers. This high level of engagement causes them to spend more time on your site, leading to more sales and larger cart sizes on average.
Other companies expand on this idea by offering the mixing and matching of different related items together – a practice called bundling – to deliver similar results. This mix and match concept can be duplicated in many other markets such as fashion and furniture. This concept transforms the interactive eCommerce experience beyond products that can be customized to mixing and matching non-customized products to create a custom bundle. You might have the opportunity to create a great outfit, for example, by mixing and matching clothes and accessories (e.g. a blouse, skirt, jacket, bag, shoes and jewelry). Or you could have a similar experience purchasing furniture by mixing and matching different pieces to create a specially designed living room or bedroom.
Below is an example of both the mixing and matching and the bundling concept from our customer A1Textiles. This BtoB company sells linen and decor to hotels. The interactive room designer is typically used by hotel owners, executives and interior decorators to mix and match various off-the-shelf products and create the exact hotel room ambiance they’re looking for. As with other interactive eCommerce solutions, the order process is dramatically streamlined when a powerful visualization solution is introduced to the buying process. Processes that typically included a lot of back and forth between the vendor and the customer can now be achieved efficiently online at the customer’s convenience.
Customized bed linen from A1Textiles
Be a Part of the Future
Whether it’s giving your teenager the ability to express their individuality through their customized footlocker, or simply mixing and matching products and bundling them with similar items, interactive eCommerce will become even more prevalent as time goes on. At Doogma, we invite you to become part of the interactive eCommerce revolution. Would you like to share your own approach to interactive eCommerce or let us help get you started? We’d love to hear from you.
To speak to someone about customization click here.
- Gowdner, J.P. “Why Large-Scale Product Customization is Finally Viable for Business.” Mashable. 13 April 2011. http://mashable.com/2011/04/13/mass-customization/: 2011.
- see 2
- Zaroban, Stefany. “Men’s Wearhouse Founder Takes Tailoring Online.” Internet Retailer.4 June 2015. https://www.internetretailer.com/2015/06/04/ousted-mens-wearhouse-founder-takes-clothing-tailoring-online: 2015.