The holiday season rakes in 70% of the retailer’s annual sales. Men’s Society is heavily investing in people and equipment to launch a new personalized products line.

Men’s Society is betting big on personalized products for the 2018 holiday season.

The holiday season is high stakes for Men’s Society, as 70% of its sales hinge on Christmas, says Ross Patrick, digital marketing executive at Men’s Society. “It’s enormous for us,” he says.

To prepare, the handcrafted gifts retailer recently hired 10 employees to increase its research and development team to 11 from one. Plus, it leased a new building to set up a production facility to make this operation come to life, he says.

While holiday sales were “really good” for the 2017 holiday season, the retailer noticed that personalized products were becoming more popular on sites like Etsy Inc. and just as a general trend for shoppers, Patrick says. As a gift retailer, Men’s Society believed it could capitalize if it could personalize some of its products. That might mean offering a hand cream with a label that says, “Sarah’s luxury hand cream” or “Happy birthday, Harry!”

Men’s Society began working on the new personalized product line, called Made and Sent, about three months ago. It plans to launch the line next month. That’s slightly longer than the retailer thought it would take, but it wanted to ensure it ended up with a good product instead of rushing it, Patrick says.

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One challenge has been the need for the retailer to build this new type of functionality into its website and create new packaging for these products. From a package design perspective, it was difficult to create packages that could accommodate different character counts and would look good in every variation, he says. The retailer went through roughly a dozen prototypes of its new packaging type before it decided on one.

“We wanted each product to look as though it had been initially designed to include each specific name,” Patrick says. “We didn’t just want to leave a big space on each label and write a name in it.”

Men’s Society used a plugin for its Shopify e-commerce platform that could facilitate personalization, and added its own custom to code so the interface would work exactly as the retailer wanted, Patrick says. For example, as the shopper types the name, she will be able to see the name appear on the packaging on the screen.

Creating these products is “easily double the workload,” because of the design process of making each name looking like it fits the product perfectly plus the product’s production. “It takes longer in the production process because the labels have to be printed and stuck onto the correct products for each order, then the whole thing must go through quality control each time,” Patrick says. “Ordinarily the labeling and quality control is done in advance and in bulk.”

The retailer, however, has to be realistic about how much consumers would pay for the product, Patrick says. The retailer’s products are around 25 pounds ($33), and it doesn’t want to sell it for 50 pounds and price itself out of a consumer’s consideration set. Also, Men’s Society has noticed that many retailers that personalize products don’t charge a premium for doing so.

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The retailer is currently considering charging 5 pounds ($6.60) for personalization. At the moment, Men’s Society launched its first-ever personalized product for Father’s Day on its New Daddy Survival Kit. The tin kit’s label reads “Matthew’s New Daddy Survival Kit,” or whatever name the shopper picks. In the few weeks the product was live, sales have gone “incredibly well,” and 65% of the retailer Father’s Day revenue were going to that one product, he says.

With this early success of personalization, Men’s Society has high hopes that this new product category will do well this holiday season. The retailer invested tens of thousands of pounds specifically for this project, Patrick says without revealing more.

 

 

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