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If you’re like me, you often have used these terms interchangeably. The nuances between customized and personalized can seem small, but as you think about the experience you want to offer your customer, the difference is important.
Here’s a helpful way to think about the two:
Think of customization as selecting from the available set of options, making choices that suit the wants and needs you have for the product you plan to buy.
Personalization on the other hand speaks more to making something more personal to you. This could mean extending from the standard set of available options to get a unique emblem, logo, or initials added to personalize your item.
To help paint this picture, imagine you are shopping for a new golf cart to cruise around your neighborhood in. You could visit a local dealer and see what’s on the lot. This would be an example of buying what’s in stock. But you want to visit the manufacturer’s website and see what options there are. You begin by browsing the base models the company offers. Each model has options for you to configure your cart with.
At first, you use the site’s configuration tool to build your cart. You see that you can select from different wheel options, roof colors, body colors, seat colors, and trim styles. These are all options you can customize to fit your tastes, preferences, or budget. As you select from the set of options you are creating a custom combination.
Where personalization enters the picture is if certain options allow you an element of personal touch. This could come in the form of add-ons, “custom” colors, or other ways to make your purchase truly unique. For example, you could request the specific gold color of your favorite school for the body color, request the complimentary purple color for the seats, and also add a “custom” logo to be embroidered on the seats. To really top things off, you could have your family’s name painted on the side. This one-of-a-kind golf cart has been personalized just for you.
This idea of customizing from a standard set of options to personalizing with unique choices is what separates the two terms.
But creating great experiences for your customers to customize or personalize online can be difficult. That’s when visualization and visual configuration becomes critical to ensuring you are getting exactly what it is you want. In our golf cart example, the ability to configure a cart and experience the product virtually before committing to the purchase goes a long way towards ensuring confidence with the buyer.
Rather than going to the lot and buying what’s in front of you, visual technology allows you to experience a product the same way you would in-store, without having to imagine what it would look like customized to fit your needs. This ability to see and preview customizations and/or personalizations improves your buyer’s experience, gives them confidence to purchase, and ensures accuracy. The result is increased purchases with fewer returns.