This is part 2 of an article series which examines how 20 different online businesses are using personalisation to push boundaries within the fiercely competitive online retail sector. These Australian eCommerce businesses are all embracing technology and redefining conventional product strategy within a burgeoning, yet niche sector.
Before you read the article, we should take a moment to make the distinction here between customisation and personalisation. Customisation is about letting the customer choose from a pre-determined set of options. Personalisation allows the customer to make something completely unique.
Common ways to offer personalisation is via the use of the customer’s name on or by allowing them to add a unique image/colour/texture etc.
Without further ado, here’s another ten examples which completes our list of 20! Note: this article is a continuation from Part 1.
River from Sweet Cherry Soda
A natural go-getter, River wanted to be able to financially support herself with a business and started Sweet Cherry Soda as a side-gig to her full-time job. Bath bombs were a product that she knew how to make and enjoyed using herself, so this was a natural starting place. She wanted to ensure the branding was attractive and use that as the main selling point. Upon release, a lot of people loved the product and sales started to pick up enough for it to become her full-time job. The plan was to personalise products from the start because she knew there was a lot of demand from weddings planners who bought them as wedding favours for the guests.
While gifting options were also popular, she actually finds most people buy the products for personal use. Each product is handmade so customising the scent and colour for personalised requests was not difficult. Labeling requires a lot of manual input, but her customers enjoy the personalised touch that this brings to the product experience. An in-house, customised production process also means she can create an almost unlimited range of products on-demand.
With zero automation in place she finds there is a lot of work involved but enjoys keeping busy and being able to express her own creativity on a daily basis. A new, themed product range is released each month to keep things fresh and the orders continue to flow in.
A future bride, who was an existing customer, approached her recently needing a batch of products to match her pastel rainbow-themed wedding. After an initial discussion she decided upon two colourways and two scents complete with custom labels to match, wrapped in sustainable, compostable cellophane. They went down a treat with her guests and enjoyed using the spares on their honeymoon. This was the result (see below).
Visit her site to browse the standard range and contact directly for personalized options
Jason from Neon Poodle
Jason Gibson started Neon Poodle with his partner five and a half years ago. The idea came to him when his partner wanted a customized neon sign but they couldn’t find a local company that would do it. Sensing a gap in the market, he started selling a range of standard neon signs together with a personalised option which initially proved less popular. As time the business matured he noticed the customisation market becoming increasingly popular.
“Everyone wants custom these days and everyone wants own name or phrase on a sign”, Jason says. Word of his brand continued to gain strength and these personalized signs now account for the majority of his business. Neon signs are popular for weddings, parties and offices.
It was difficult to find a software solution that could accommodate what he needed for the website. After trialing a few off-the-shelf apps (all of which had technical issues) he ended up funding the creation of a bespoke solution instead. He’s also experimented with various manufacturing models before settling on a mix of local production and outsourced expertise, which he says provides the balance that is required. Expansion into the UK and US markets has continued and the future is looking ‘neon’ bright.
Have a go making your own neon sign starting at $117
Adi from Sprout and Sparrow
Adi and Tash started just selling standard prints. They’d been operating the business for over four years before they started receiving requests from customers for personalised variations.
They didn’t think there was someone who could supply these small quantities until they found an obliging local print store who was more than happy to help. Fast forward two years later and this decision has changed their entire business for the better.
Adi says people can sometimes be reluctant about the time it takes to receive the personalised prints but a good relationship with her supplier means she can turnaround an order in just two business days. “It’s much more powerful when the parents can hang a print with their child’s name and details on the wall for decoration rather than just a standard picture from a shop. This emotional connection is so powerful.” she says.
They tested a few options to facilitate the personalisation component prior to checkout and settled on just a simple text field where customers can write their custom text request.
Buy your child, niece or nephew their own print and match it up with their favourite animal. This personalised lion print starts at a very reasonable $24.95 excluding the frame.
Tash from Little Wooden Toybox
With two children with autism and a background in teaching, Tash had both a professional and personal need for activities that were suitable for all types of abilities. She started selling wooden toys first before shifting the focus of the business more recently into the sale of packs that help kids develop their handwriting skills.
The business started as a side gig but is now her full time occupation. Due to the different state requirements, each writing pack must be customised to the standards of that state. This mostly effects the fonts, which means there’s a lot of manual customization required each time she receives an order.
She uses an app called Bold e-commerce to activate the extra fields needed for a personalized checkout process.
A print-it-yourself digital download starts from $5.99 and you can order your own personalised handwriting book online here
Liz from Pet ID Tag
When you get a new dog, one of the first things you’ll need to purchase is a collar and a name tag. Liz’s Pet ID Tag online store does just that. Her first business sold pet insurance, so this next store was a natural extension on the same theme. She said she came across the idea when writing an article for her insurance website which discussed ways to keep pets safe. She explored ways to create a bundled offering between insurance, tags and electronic trackers. Only when she discovered the inherent battery drawbacks electronic trackers had did she understand the main benefit metal ID tags provided. They were old-school, but inexpensive and durable. So she found some ways to jazz them up a bit and explored options for personalisation (engraving the dog’s name and contact details). She set up a Shopify site and added some custom name fields to the product checkout section which in turn feed through to a local supplier’s order system who customizes each tag individually. Got a dog or needed a new ID tag?
Michael from Swanky Paws
Michael started offering personalized dog products off-the-bat when he started Swanky Paws. Originally finding traction via Instagram he was researching some content but couldn’t find anything personalized. People started requesting custom dog wear so he decided to oblige and set up a modest product range. He ensures nearly all the manufacturing is done in-house and is affordable enough to be attractive. The manufacturing process he uses for the Swarovski studded collars for example took over one year to perfect. 30 different glues were tested before he settled on a process that would work. All of the customization work is done locally and he has even had to hire three seamstresses who are busy sewing all the custom pooch costumes. They have invested in a vinyl printer which applies vinyl lettering to fabric via a heat and pressure process.
The business is only eight months old but they have doubled in the last two months. Touting a recent sale to one of the Real Housewives stars, he’s is still grounded in the realities of running business, “I’m learning every day and testing. Failure is part of that”.
Start the custom costume process for your dog which starts at just $10
Kezia and Samantha from Personally Picked
Kezia and Samantha only started their online store 12 months ago. They wanted to offer something new and different which no one else was doing. They had a look around before settling on gift boxes. After doing some research they couldn’t find anyone who sold small quantities of gift boxes which could be personalised. Therae seemed to be a lot of demand for a flexible, hybrid solution where people could be thoughtful with their gift without having to spend lots of time running around buying items. They sell standard off-the-shelf boxes with a pre-selected range of items, as well as a flexible customized box option. They’ve experienced their fair share of technical issues as they didn’t have the necessary infrastructure in place that was needed at the start. They tried using a few Shopify off-the-shelf apps to help visualize the changes in the boxes, but had trouble finding something which suited their needs. This was just one of many small barriers along the way which they had to overcome. A Shopify app called Bundle helped them with variable pricing. All the customisation manufacturing is done locally by their team, not offshore. They recently invested in a vinyl printing solution which has made the personalization of the labeling easier. Their range of boxes are very popular with the corporate gifting market where they can capture bulk sales. Gone are the days of boring mass-produced boxes. “Now everything is targeted, and everyone is offering something different. We hope that people turn to us for a box that’s fun and exciting.”, Says Kezia. One of their favourite boxes is the ‘Thinking of You Box’ because of its versatility. People use it to console someone whose friend has passed away, for a sick friend in hospital, or just for someone they care for
Start building your own personalized gift box from $35
Kelly from Daily Orders
“People love to personalize”, Kelly says straight away. “It increases attachment, it gives ownership, people just like to see their name”, she says. Daily Orders sells a collection of acrylic wall planners that people buy for all types of uses. Naturally, they work better when the family or work members’ name is attached so she charges a bit extra for this feature. For $9.95 per name she uses a vinyl cutting machine which she’s purchased and manually applies each name to the wall planner.
While this takes lots of time, she finds it a better solution than a previous arrangement where she outsourced the personalisation to a supplier and had to deal with longer turnarounds or quality issues. Not surprisingly, a lot of her customers are mothers who wish to organize their family’s to-do list or assign chores. She started off with a paper weekly planner, but realized the demand for a more durable and reusable solution before settling on acrylic as the material. As a business owner she seems sensitive to customer demand and that seems to have contributed to the company’s growth.
Get your own weekly planner from $89.95 plus personalization costs
Rachel from Adoremat
Rachel has a business already that sold mats mostly to the B2B corporate market, but she often had friends approach her and ask if they could make her a customized mat for their house. She made a couple of them before this personalized mat side business grew organically from there. Her product range is especially popular with real estate agents who want a branded mat for open home days and settlement gifts for home builders. “Mats last, unlike wine” she says. Rachel had trouble finding someone who could produce the mats however. Most manufacturers were not geared for small production runs let alone single designs. She eventually found an overseas supplier who could accommodate her requirements and had hired a graphic designer who customizes each design with the customer. When asked about the types of non-business customers who buy the mats, she said it varied but there were some commonalities. The customers were creative people who enjoyed expressing themselves. People who had a personal style and wanted something unique to match this style. Some of the use-cases are varied and very interesting. She’s seen people turn their kids’ paintings into mats, a commemorative design for the death of a family member or pet, quotes from important figures
Create your own personalised door mat from $144.90
Melissa from That Dog Shop
Melissa started offering a mix of baby and dog products before realizing that the dog market is where she had to be. Demand has exploded and she’s never looked back. She started out running her first online store on the side while working full time. That was closed down before her second iteration focused just on dogs. She still has trouble keeping up with buyer demand. Everything is made in-house and she finds the procurement of quality manufacturers difficult. In early 2018 she invested into heat transfer vinyl machinery so the personalization process could be brought in-house but she still cuts and sews every product by hand. The dog bandanas are popular, especially for marriage proposals and for ceremonies. She’s recently rebranded in July 2019 and business has never looked better.
This cute personalized bandanna for your dog starts at just $22
Looking for your next corporate gift idea? Send your clients a custom cocktail package with your logo on it.
Try Spiff’s E-commerce Personalisation Technology
Play around with some live demo products on our Shopify demo site by clicking the ‘personalise now’ button.