Surf apparel retailer O’Neill Clothing Company is reaping benefits from beefing up personalization on its desktop and mobile sites. Specifically, it has changed how it approaches product recommendations.

The retailer switched from having a more aggregated approach of personalization to a one-to-one approach, says Daniel Neukomm, CEO of La Jolla Group, parent company of O’Neill. 

For example, instead of assuming that a customer who has previously bought Khaki shorts will want to buy a T-shirt and feature T-shirts as the recommended products, O’Neill will instead factor into the recommended products: How that consumer got to the site, such as via clicking on a social media ad for a specific product like a women’s bikini or typing in a certain keyword into a search engine; where the consumer is geographically; and the type of device the consumer is using to visit the site.

For example, the new approach to personalization can tell that a consumer is visiting the site on a smartphone in Orange County, Calif., from a Google search for men’s board shorts. Using this information, the featured products on the home page can dynamically change to men’s board shorts that are performance oriented for surfing. The personalization technology guessed that because the consumer lives in a costal, warm climate region, he was more interested in technical board shorts, rather than leisure swimming shorts, which it might recommend to a consumer in Minnesota in July.

“As a result, our featured products are more accurate,” Neukomm says. Since rolling out the personalization two years ago on the mobile site, smartphone revenue has increased 111.15% and smartphone conversions increased 15.28%, Neukomm says. About 50% of O’Neill’s traffic stems from smartphones.


Additionally, in July of this year, O’Neill gave the personalization technology on mobile only a facelift and limited the number of product recommendations it showed to consumers on a smartphone to two down from six, so shoppers didn’t have to scroll down.  

O’Neill’s smartphone bounce rate, or the percentage of consumers who leave the site after only visiting one page, decreased 17% during this year’s back to school shopping season, from July 7 to Sept. 7, 2015, compared with the same time last year, as smartphone traffic increased 65%.

The more a shopper is on the retailer’s site, the smarter the technology gets and the more accurate the personalization becomes, Neukomm says. For example, if a shopper keeps looking at green tank tops, the featured products will start appearing in green.  

“It’s kind of like a good bottle of wine—it gets better with age,” says Neukomm about the personalization technology. “The more it soaks up this interaction activity the more accurately it’s going to predict.”

Besides personalizing the featured products on the homepage of the mobile and desktop site, the tool is also used to display pictures of products when a shopper types in an item to the search box.


One-to-one personalization also improved O’Neill’s desktop conversion rate, increasing it 46% since July 2013. Desktop average order size increased 17% and consumers’ overall engagement with the desktop site, a metric that factors in page views and time on the site, increased 85% during this same time period.

La Jolla Group also implemented this type of personalization in September 2013 on another one of its e-commerce sites, Metal Mulisha, which sells motocross apparel. Since rolling out the personalization on its mobile site, smartphone revenue increased 36%, tablet revenue increased 23% and its desktop conversion rate increased 37%.

La Jolla Group used technology vendor Reflektion for this personalization upgrade. Reflektion did most of the grunt work to implement this service at O’Neill, and it took five of O’Neill’s own employees a week to fully integrate the new personalization technology, Neukomm says. The entire process took about three weeks, Reflektion says.

La Jolla Group pays an annual fee to Reflektion for the service. Pricing is tiered based on the volume of traffic to the site and can range from $70,000 to $1 million or more, Reflektion says.

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