The future of retail: personalized shopping?

Online retailers are looking to transform the shopping experience to make it personalized and exciting.

The online experience has evolved over the years to become more personalized. Everything from Pandora picking out new music for you based on the artists you like to advertisements that predict your interests based on browsing history. And while online retailers use similar personalization techniques to suggest products based on your purchase history, new retailers are taking that concept to the next level.

Writing for Fast Company, Kathy Oneto points to startups that have brought ultimate personalization and even some excitement to the online shopping experience.

Take Stitch Fix, an online clothing store, for example. You start by filling out a style profile. Based on your answers the company's stylists picks out five items they think you'll want to wear. They send them to you, you try them on and send back the clothes you don't like, for free. If you choose to keep all five, you get a 25 percent discount on the order. True&Co. does something similar with bras. Take an online fitting survey, try on five at home, and send back what you don't like for free. The idea with both sites, like Pandora, is that you get some items similar to your interests and others that might broaden your interests based on what you like.

Then there's the gift-giving site Wantful that helps you choose gifts based on the interests of the recipient. If you still aren't sure what to give after the site gives you customized options you can send the person gift options that you choose.

As Oneto writes:

These new services are not only changing the retail and shopping experience for shoppers, but are also creating new distribution channels for marketers’ products. From start-ups to established players, these new channels can offer opportunities to reach niche consumer groups or can provide a platform to test new product concepts.

Sites like these also take advantage of their platform to offer a service that's unique but also interesting and convenient to consumers. Why shop online if you're going to have to return an item that doesn't work for you (and pay for extra shipping)? Why shop online if the experience isn't much different from being in a physical store. Sites like these could show the way for online retail.

Pandora for Pants: Are Personal Shopping Experiences the Future of Retail? [Fast Company]

Image: Logo/Stitch Fix

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com