Men’s Society is betting big on personalized products this holiday season.

The stakes are high for Men’s Society, as 70% of its annual sales hinge on November and December sales, says Ross Patrick, digital marketing executive at Men’s Society. “It’s enormous for us,” he says.

While holiday sales were “really good” for the 2017 holiday season, the U.K.-based gifts retailer noticed the growing number of consumers interested in buying personalized products on Etsy and other sites, Patrick says. Men’s Society believed it could capitalize on this trend if it could personalize some products. That might mean offering a hand cream that’s labeled, “Sarah’s luxury hand cream” or “Happy birthday, Harry!” But that type of offering can be complicated to pull off.

Men’s Society has spent most of this year and thousands of pounds to launch the personalized product line, which it calls Made and Sent, in time for the crucial fourth quarter. The retailer had to hire 10 employees—which increased its research and development team to 11 from one—and lease a new building to set up a production facility to bring the operation to life, Patrick says.

The Men’s Society approach stands in contrast to the way many merchants approach the holiday season. Retailers typically follow their e-commerce plan that has worked in the past, says Sucharita Kodali, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst. “You need to make sure the site is running, have promotions, deliver on time, make sure that you have the right inventory in place—that’s the holiday playbook,” Kodali says. “It’s not rocket science.”

But merchants such as Men’s Society are taking a different approach. During non-peak months, they’re elbow deep working on large projects to have them ready to go when shoppers are primed to buy in the season, which many retailers consider to begin Nov. 1. These retailers are thinking big as they seek to…

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