With many teams-based recreational activities on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some consumers picked up fishing—a hobby they could enjoy alone or with their families.

And Catch Co.—which is a consumer brand manufacturer and parent company to online merchants fishing gear e-retailer Karl’s Bait & Tackle Shop and fishing supplies subscription box retailer Mystery Tackle Box—quickly noticed an increase in online sales for its own ecommerce sites when stores shuttered in spring 2020.

But consumer demand for its products has tapered in 2021, causing Catch Co.’s online sales and traffic to drop compared with the surges during 2020, says Geoffrey Champlin, chief strategy officer for Catch Co.

“We’re seeing a lot of the COVID newcomers stick with the sport, but people are going to restaurants and the movies again while fishing was a more isolated activity,” Champlin says. “The retention is strong for the COVID cohort but we’re seeing a dip in [traffic and sales].”

Thus, the fishing supplies company wanted to find a way to draw shoppers back in and keep them on its site. To do that, Catch Co. needed to strengthen its personalization strategy. “Modern ecommerce requires personalization; it’s beginning to be the status quo,” Champlin says.

And shoppers agree—they now expect some form of personalization when they’re shopping online, according to a September 2021 survey of 1,000 online shoppers conducted by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights. 59% of respondents want to quickly access their recently viewed products and 55% want their information stored on a retailer’s website and updated when they place orders.

Personalization can take make forms for an online shopper, but data is at the heart of it all. Without consumers willing to offer their personal information, such as their email addresses and phone numbers, retailers would struggle to personalize the shopping experience. But not all consumers want to be tracked. In fact, 52% of online shoppers surveyed said they don’t want to be tracked and want the ability to opt out of personalization, so having that option clearly defined is important to shoppers.

Despite the privacy complications, retailers aim to deliver shopping experiences tailored to the individual shopper. For example: 32% of shoppers want to see products recommended to them based on their browsing and buying history, while 23% want to see products based on other shoppers buying similar products. And some shoppers want to be tracked across all devices and sites. 30% want to have access to a cart across desktop, mobile app and mobile web, and 19% want to see products recommended to them based on shopping history on other ecommerce sites.

“In the best personalized experiences, retailers make the customer part of the dialogue and leverage data to create one-to-one personalization,” says Helene Trontz, partner at business consulting firm Columbus Consulting. “The ultimate goal of personalization in retail is to make shoppers feel unique, special and emotionally connected.”

Plus, retailers report that personalization can lift conversion, sales and click-through rates. Three vastly different retailers share how they used personalization through content recommendations, targeted emails, and product-matching tools—all to pair shoppers with the products best fit for them.

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