The very idea of personalization is baked into the heart and soul of Vera Bradley, which was born out of the idea that there had to be a better option than a sea of black luggage. As one of the bigger name brands on Shopify, we were curious to dig in and find out whether Vera Bradley's commitment to personalization extends to the actual virtual shopping experience for their online customers.
Vera Bradley is ultimately a love letter to personal style. The company was founded in the 1980s after two friends noticed nothing but black luggage at the airport while on a trip. They conceived of the idea of a luggage and bag brand that used color, print, and special details to let every one show off their style while they were on the go - whether just around town or across the globe.
Named for one of the founders' mothers and 40+ years into their history, Vera Bradley is now synonymous with bright colors, vibrant custom prints, and a hugely expanded line of bags - from their signature quilted backpacks to luggage and purses, as well as an array of accessories, housewares and more.
When it comes to tailoring the shopping experience for a Vera Bradley customer, two things must be considered. The first is color (or print). Unlike a typical fashion brand, Vera Bradley doesn't release a ton of new 'styles' of bags or accessories. Instead, they primarily offer their core lineup of products in a constantly rotating palette of prints and colors, most likely reflecting the fact that if a shopper is drawn to a particular style, they might be willing to buy it in multiple colors. Or if they love a particular print, they might be interested in buying multiple matching pieces.
The second major personalization factor comes down to function. Vera Bradley's collection ranges from large rolling luggage and weekend bags to school backpacks and work briefcases to mini purses and belt bags. Someone looking for a product in one of these categories likely isn't looking for all types of bags at the same time (although an effective cross-selling strategy might compel them to add on a matching accessory, like a luggage tag or cosmetic bag).
So is Vera Bradley nailing virtual personalization as much as they're nailing luggage personalization?
What Vera Bradley got right
Product detail page recommendation blocks: It's hard to miss the product recommendations on Vera Bradley's product detail page pages, not only because of how they're designed - with shaded callout boxes and bold headlines - but also because of where they're placed (right above the reviews). We love stacked recommendation boxes as a strategy as it gives shoppers a few different directions to pursue. In this case, the bottom row tends to show the same style of bag in different prints or materials, while the top row is more curated to a shopper's overall patterns - highlighting similar colors, for example.
In-cart cross-sell: Vera Bradley forces you to hit the cart before you can get to checkout. In doing so, they present a well-curated collection of cross-sells that directly tie to the product a customer is looking at. The cross-sells are a bit less on point for more generic items (like a solid color backpack) but are still thoughtfully integrated into the buying experience. An easy win for Vera Bradley from here would be to make it possible to add products from the cart with a single click, instead of having to view different PDPs.
Areas for Vera Bradley to enhance
Collection page recommendations: Vera Bradley is one of the few brands we've audited to have any type of collection personalization at all, in the form of a 'More products to love' block at the bottom. The items featured in this block are a bit confusing though; often repeating items that are on the exact collection page being viewed as opposed to extending the shopper journey to other pages or sections of the site. In many cases a customer may not actually ever reach this block in some of Vera Bradley's more expansive collections, however, it's still best practices to include!
Missed personalization opportunities for
Home page personalization: There are two blocks on the home page that appear similar to typical recommendation blocks - one highlighting new arrivals and another highlighting 'new for you' picks. In both cases, the featured products don't actually update to reflect a shopper's browsing behavior, which feels like a missed opportunity to capture the attention of returning shoppers. What makes Vera Bradley's current strategy doubly challenging is the fact a featured item was in fact out of stock. Using smart algorithms to ensure out of stock items don't appear in featured collection blocks would keep Vera Bradley from wasting valuable home page real estate.
Recent views: It's a simple strategy, but always effective. Although Vera Bradley's 'Handpicked just for you' boxes tend to feature recently viewed products, it makes just as much sense to add a recently viewed box to the bottom of all PDPs as well.
Vera Bradley is generally hitting the mark on the two areas of personalization we identified as priority for them - style and function. But with a few small changes, like adding recommendation blocks to the home page or adding recent views, the brand could be streamlining the shopping experience even more. If they really wanted to take things to a new level, we'd highly recommend investing in segmentation to help ease any shopper from browsing to buying in no time.
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