Shopping personalization--the relentless pursuit that retailers and digital marketers take to try and show you, the customer, just exactly what you want. Makes sense, right? After all, if you have a positive experience, it could increase loyalty, retention, and other juicy metrics that marketers have an insatiable appetite for. More-so, personalization is boasted as one of the best modern retail strategies--it's how many sellers are surviving the retail apocalypse.

But, just how deep does the personalization rabbit hole go, and how are emerging brands delivering on its promise?

The Layers of Personalization

We've seen many brands accept the personalization challenge in innovative ways, all to better serve relevancy to their customers--Warby Parker is a great example. The prescription glasses company has their customers answer a short six-question quiz to determine their ideal glasses for you, and can then select five frames to try-on. 

Stitch Fix does something similar. Shoppers answer a few quick questions and their team of fashion experts will send clothing at a $20 flat rate. Customers then return whichever items they don't want to keep. Simple.

On the home furnishings side, Houzz, the leading platform for home renovation and design, uses 3D augmented reality to let users of its iPhone and iPad apps preview hundreds of thousands of furniture and decor products in their homes before they buy. 

When it comes to skincare however, there has been a void in the market for truly personalized solutions. This is due in part to the limited scope of most skincare companies' product lines, which tend to offer a small handful of products that are touted as tackling nearly every skincare concern under the sun.

The lack of personalization can also be seen in the typical shopping process. Selecting products that are perfectly matched for a shopper's specific skincare needs requires a deep understanding of ingredients. Sales associates in retail environments typically have no formal ingredient training, largely leaving customers to navigate the selection process on their own. 

That's Where Beauty by Design Comes in

Beauty by Design -- the newly launched, ultra-custom skincare line -- has turned personalization upside-down, creating an end-to-end experience that hyper-focuses on the customer's needs. How?

You'll consult directly online with a Licensed Esthetician -- that is, a skincare expert -- for free. They are your personal experts who you can contact, even via text, whenever you want. The result of the interaction will identify the best products for your skin by leveraging a multitude of data points and yes, it doesn't hurt that they're experts in the space.

Once this information is gathered, Licensed Estheticians leverage Beauty by Design's proprietary ingredient algorithm to further aid in the process of perfectly matching customers to products perfectly suited to target their specific skincare needs. 

A Smart(er) Model

The model eliminates the unnecessary need to brave the stores, especially with the ever-evolving, on-demand consumer expectation. However, it takes this expectation a step further. By emphasizing a 'human-first' touch point that is tactfully coupled with emerging tech (AI & machine-learning), Beauty by Design isn't just aspiring to be 'just another e-commerce brand', they're building a technology company, which is exactly what CEO, David Weissman, is setting out to do. Here's what the e-commerce & retail veteran had to say, 

"Shopping for skincare products is a daunting task-we created Beauty by Design to solve this challenge offering a truly customized skincare solution using clean and highly effective ingredients, provided through the careful guidance of Licensed Estheticians. We believe that once customers experience the Beauty by Design difference, they'll never want to buy skincare any other way, ever again."

One of the startup's key differentiators is the sheer breadth and depth of its product line. Weissman shared, "Our team has developed one of the widest ranges of skincare products available," He continued, "While most brands offer a handful of options per product category, there are up to 10,000 possible combinations of Beauty by Design skincare sets."

For the Beauty by Design team, personalization is not limited to skin type--the brand has also taken a wide range of budgets into consideration. Weissman stressed their commitment to perfectly matching their customers with the right products at the right price for each individual and because they manufacture their own products in the United States, and do not own any expensive stores, their products are up to 30 percent less than comparable leading brands for the same quality of ingredients.

"Conversational Commerce"--The Future of Retail

Few industries are so ripe for disruption in the form of personalization. Buyers are quickly realizing that there are more efficient ways to get exactly what they want and need, but brands need to consider if there's a better way to win over that audience to ensure they deliver on their evolving expectations.

Beauty by Design is embracing the standards that so many e-commerce retailers think they need to follow, but re-engineering the process with a critical human touch that is married with powerful technology to amplify results and value. 

"Beauty by Design is a prime example of conversational commerce - customers are eager for highly personalized guidance during their shopping processes, especially for complex products such as skincare options, but they want to receive this guidance on their terms," Weissman said. "That's why we're bringing true, personal service back to retail, and doing so via the modes of communication that today's shoppers prefer--text messaging, online consultations, and soon, video chat."

The future of retail is already here, folks. Dive in.