5 Examples of Retailers that Provide Personalization Without Breaking the Bank

People walking with luggage

By Tricia McKinnon

We are in the age of personal expression. From Twitter accounts, to made for Instagram selfies to personal blogs it seems as if more and more people are putting themselves out there, literally.  The ability for people to communicate open and freely to hundreds and in some cases millions of people has also translated into the desire to have products that are more personalized.  In the past a jacket was just a jacket, part of your everyday wear.  Now it can be a status symbol letting people know that you have a product that is uniquely yours.  That was evident recently when the internet went crazy when they saw the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, wearing a Rag & Bone bomber jacket with the letters 44 embroidered on the jacket’s sleeves at a North Caroline vs. Duke baseball game.   

In a world where we are increasingly inundated with more of everything, people are looking for a way to standout and show their uniqueness.   According to a GQ article about Obama’s fashion statement: “Obama figured out that the best way to flex is to wear a jacket that literally no one else on the planet can.”  Speaking about the jacket Marcus Wainwright, the founder and Chief Brand Officer at Rag & Bone said: “listen, if I had ‘44’ jackets all over my website I’d probably sell a lot, but it's a one-off and that's what's special about it.” 

Retailers know that personalization is a trend to follow.  While not every retailer may have the resources of companies like Nike which give customers the ability to build a custom shoe online there are many retailers offering customers the ability to customize their products with simple embroidery, engraving and even stickers.  If you are looking for a lower cost way to capitalize on the personalization trend see how Away, Madewell, MUJI, Shinola and Nordstrom are letting customers express themselves.

1. In addition to offering stylish and functional luggage, Instagram favourite luggage brand Away allows customers to customize their luggage.  How many times have you been at the airport and struggled to figure out which suitcase is yours?  Away makes personalization a practical way to ensure that you are always travelling with the right bags.  Customers can choose from a range of personalization options including having a monogram of up to three letters engraved on their luggage.   In addition to engraving, customers can have a monogram hand painted onto their purchase.  According to Away’s website: “our team of artists will paint it on by hand in our SoHo studio”.  It takes up to two – three weeks for the artists to work their magic. If customers prefer embroidery, embroidered letters can be added to back packs and other bags. If those options aren’t enough, then customers can have stickers added to their bags.

According to Away Founders Jen Rubio and Stephanie Korey: "we truly think of it less as a 'monogramming service' and more as custom art for your suitcase.  So much of travel is enjoying the art and beauty around you, and it’s a nice reminder to be excited for the adventures ahead when you look down at your suitcase in the airport and see a hand-painted piece of art that was custom designed just for you."

2. At Madewell customers can have their denim and leather purchases personalized with a monogram or catch phrase of their choice.  If a customer is part of Madewell Insiders, the retailer’s loyalty program, this service is free.  The brand even went on what it called: “The Make it Personal Tour” during last year’s holiday shopping season.  A truck with a sign called “Madewell Personalization” travelled to several cities across the US.  Customers were able to purchase Madewell’s top selling leather items and have their items monogrammed on the spot for free. 

3. Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI has a service called MUJI YOURSELF which offers in-store personalization of MUJI products. Customers have the option of engraving letters on a broad range of MUJI products including business card holders, storage units, notebooks and pencil cases.  The retailer also offers custom embroidery where customers can choose from over 200 designs and letters.  These designs can be embroidered on the retailer’s fabric products.    Customers can also opt to have a picture of their choice printed onto selected MUJI apparel and home fabric items.  

4. Nordstrom is another retailer that is focused on personalization.  In its new men’s store in New York citythere is a Levi’s Tailor Shop. Nordstrom calls the Levi’s Tailor Shop a one-of-a-kind partnership where customers can have their denim jeans or jackets distressed, hemmed, repaired or elevated with studs and decals. Customers can also have their denim monogramed.  Nordstrom offers this service even if the denim the customer wants customized are not Levi’s.

5. Leather goods, accessories and paper products company Shinola demonstrates that providing personalization can be inexpensive.  It offers customers free monogramming on leather goods and paper products such as journals where customers can have their name or initials engraved on their favourite bag or notebook. Customers can also get their jewellery purchases engraved.


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