In the real world, we’re used to building up relationships with the businesses that we frequent. The people working at your local bar might learn your choice of drink, for example, or your favourite takeaway place might chuck a few freebies your way every now and again. In short, it pays to be a valued customer.

But how does this translate into the world of e-commerce? In many ways, we lose the personal aspect of shopping when we choose to buy products online. But as a small business owner, there are still ways to foster relationships with your customers and encourage them to return.

One popular way to do this is to create personalised recommendations. Depending on what your company offers, this could take the form of a quiz or questionnaire that establishes the needs of an individual customer — and recommends a product or service to suit. Particularly useful for businesses that offer a wide range of options, this approach has been shown to increase customer satisfaction and help foster a sense of connection with your brand.

Or why not go one step further and offer one-off customisation in your online store? Whether it’s a mug printed with a favorite photo, a book embossed with chosen initials or a piece of clothing tailor-made to fit, shoppers love it when you create something especially for them. So if there’s any way to modify your product range — such as colour schemes, size or other customisable factors — consider letting your customers make the choices themselves.

Another approach that you might want to consider is the implementation of smart reviews: a process that filters feedback and makes it easy for customers to view the comments that are most relevant to them. For example, a clothing store might gather data on weight, height and body shape, then use this info to show reviews left by customers with a similar profile. Again, this sort of personalisation improves the shopping experience and is more likely to result in repeat business.

Finally, as augmented reality becomes more and more popular, many online stores are utilising this tech to offer customers a personalised shopping experience. Particularly relevant within the home decor sector, it gives shoppers the chance to visualise a product inside their own space. So whether you sell furniture, artwork or paint and DIY supplies, it’s a useful trick to engage customers in the shopping process.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a personalised experience for shoppers who visit your site, helping to recreate some of the benefits more typically associated with shopping offline.

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