The boom of the e-commerce and internet retail industry has given shoppers instant access to expansive product catalogs designed to meet their every need. However, with so many offerings available, consumers are now facing choice overload – they have neither the time nor the patience to sift through countless pages of inventory and are instead opting for more simplified, personalized shopping experiences. As a result, product curation is quickly gaining traction as an appealing solution for both consumers and retailers.
What Is Product Curation?
Product curation is the process of creating unique product collections that appeal to specific demographics or niche customer bases. Product curation leverages customer segmentation data and other personalization techniques to drive engagement and increase sales. Curated products can be surfaced to e-commerce customers in a variety of ways, from blog posts and website pages to emails and Facebook ads.
The benefits of product curation extend to both buyer and seller. Compared to search algorithms and filters alone, curated collections offer a much easier way for customers to find the products that match their specific needs, interests and tastes. As a result, online retailers who offer these collections see increased customer engagement and conversions, and are able to showcase product expertise and strengthen brand identity.
While curation is not a new concept, recent consumer trends reveal increasingly high expectations for personalization within the retail experience. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Total Retail 2016 report, “When it comes to engagement, customers want more than products. They want communities they can feel they’re a part of – reinforced by brands they trust to support the lifestyle and experiences they’re looking for.”
"When it comes to engagement, customers want more than products. They want communities they can feel they’re a part of – reinforced by brands they trust to support the lifestyle and experiences they’re looking for."
This shift in consumer preference indicates that it is the quality – not quantity – of products offered that matters most. Craig Patterson, editor-in-chief of Retail Insider, explains, “Curated retail involves a narrower product focus, which may lead to personalization and increased brand relevancy.”
With this in mind, retailers are focusing on customer behavior analysis and creating hyper-targeted content to offer more personalized shopping experiences for customers.
One example of this is Amazon, who uses advanced algorithms to provide curated product suggestions based on individual consumer purchasing patterns. These formulas help guide buyers through a massive catalog of items. Zappos, Wayfair and Furniture.com are other online retailers who utilize data mining and match it with personalized recommendations to improve the online shopping experience for customers.
Beyond the algorithms and structured data, there is a storytelling aspect to product curation that helps further drive brand identity and customer engagement. Curated products can be tied into a larger narrative that contains additional information and expert recommendations about why and how to use the items. Examples of this type of content include articles, how-to guides, infographics, in-depth product comparisons and more.
This tailored touch increases the chances that customers will not only return, but also share your brand story – which is now their personal experience – with their friends and family. Over time, this brand affinity can lead to higher sales frequency and increased average order values.
Case Study: Office Depot
With hundreds of thousands of products across a wide variety of categories, Office Depot needed a quick and easy way to help its online customers find the products most relevant to their needs. The company turned to OneSpace for solutions that would provide a more personalized shopping experience for its customers, boost organic traffic, and increase e-commerce conversion rates.
OneSpace’s strategic services team offered Office Depot an efficient and cost-effective way to execute personalized content marketing campaigns and highly-targeted product curations at scale.
The results were impressive. By the end of the project cycle, Office Depot:
- Published 363 pages of highly-targeted content
- Started ranking for 13,000+ new long-tail keywords
- Increased conversion rates by up to 13%
To learn more about how OneSpace helped Office Depot use product curation to create more personalized shopping experiences and drives sales and engagement, download the full case study here.