Find out how two US retail disruptors are delivering next level personalisation. Literally

Personalisation is a crucial differentiator for increasing customer engagement and retaining high-value customers.  World Retail Insight's North America correspondent Patricia Waldron caught up with two innovators in this space to learn more about next-level personalisation and discovered how one company is thinking outside the box and another is moving beyond it. 

“We're all about helping our customers discover great small brands and great products every month,” said Alvaro De La Rocha, Chief Marketing Officer, Bespoke Post.  


Bespoke Post is a monthly membership club distributing curated boxes of top-shelf goods from under-the-radar and small business brands.  The company also has an e-commerce shop and a portfolio of products.  

Card lsle is bringing the greeting card industry into the digital age by making greeting cards more personal, accessible, and fun.  The company crowdsources content and allows consumers to create personalised greeting cards printed on demand and shipped with e-commerce orders.  

“There are no two cards we create that are the same,” said David Henry, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Card Isle. “There are hundreds and hundreds of artists who contribute to our platform regularly.” 

Card Isle’s business model upends the traditional method of shopping for greeting cards in stores, which typically organise cards by producer and then by type of card.  As a result, shoppers often have only a handful of cards from which to choose.  “We find that that construct is unnecessary in a world where we can start with digital designs and then leverage technology to print those cards in real-time wherever you need that card,” said Henry.  

Card Isle partners with e-commerce companies that‘ plug in’ the company’s digital design capabilities during the check-out process as an up-sell module.  Shoppers design cards based on preferences, printed at the e-commerce providers’ fulfilment site and included in orders.  These customised cards are typically added to 15-20% of gift orders, improving customer satisfaction and driving an increase in average order size.

Bespoke Post’s subscription business is the company’s flagship offering.  They curate upwards of 20 new boxes a month, and customers have the flexibility to opt out, skip or swap.  Selections are supplied to customers based on their preferences, purchase patterns and other data points collected over time.  This data also informs the categories and merchandise assortment in The Shop, Bespoke Post’s a la carte e-commerce store, which is cross promoted to subscribers at a discounted price point (another benefit of membership) and sold to non-subscribers at total price.  

“As we find out what you buy, from a box perspective, we can email you and cite those products we feel you'd love a la carte.  That helps our lifetime value incrementally, but also helps the consumer because they're getting served things that are most relevant to them,” commented De La Rocha.  

Changing the shopping experience 

Card Isle was created to engage beyond traditional constraints and remove time and frustration for consumers looking for the perfect card to send to someone they care about to mark a special, happy or sad occasion.  Instead of starting with a card manufacturer’s categorisation, Card Isle lets users create the design process at various points, from holiday, experience and language to sentiment, recipient, and type of card, i.e., photo and designer.  A default message and additional suggestions are provided, and the ability to edit or completely personalise the content.   

“We're letting you enter the journey of selecting a card not through the traditional categories but instead through that memory or that connection you have,” commented Henry.  

As Bespoke Post grew from offering a single box each month to a selection of ten or more, the company added a quiz during checkout to help determine the best box for each shopper.  Going against the conventional wisdom of removing friction from the checkout process, more than ten steps were added to the checkout funnel.  

“The ultimate goal of that was just to help us assign boxes better.  But what we also found was that we increased conversion rates, depending on the channel you were talking about, an increase of fifteen to thirty per cent,” remarked De La Rocha.  

As the company collects more and more data, they’ve identified which data points are the best demand signals for selection and satisfaction.  

Gaining brand permission 

Most of Card Isle’s products are designed and delivered via e-commerce vendors.  The design process and onboarding funnels were created to start customers' journey with their intent and what they share/know about the card recipient.  “It's less, I think, about establishing the brand's equity to make that connection. Instead, it's about inviting that person to open up to us about what that connection is in their world,” said Henry.  

Disrupting a category is where Card Isle started. They hope to continue redesigning their process and offering new technologies like generative AI to query users about their needs, and technology would automatically curate the most relevant designs.

“It's fun to kind of break all the rules for a category is you start with kind of a blank slate and see what you do,” said Henry.  

Bespoke Post carries personalisation into other processes, particularly customer service. For example, all agents can access subscribers’ order history (if customers use an email or phone number on file) to educate them on what was last purchased. They are empowered to resolve the problem and take additional action to delight customers.  

“If you're going to talk a big game, on personalisation or on any variable like, you need to show that you can deliver on that promise,” says De la Rocha.  


Personalisation in real-time and segmentation at scale are critical to expanding the customer base and driving growth and require suitable systems, approaches, and metrics.  “I think it's important to think about.  You can over-segment and over-personalize if you don't have the right tools in place,” said De La Rocha.  “There's always a balance between the impact and the ease of a segment promotion.”  New technologies and analytics have the potential for unlocking proper demand drivers and enabling one-for-one ‘next best action’ in real-time for each customer.

Personalisation is a core brand value helping two mission-driven born-on-the-web businesses deliver a unique product and experience to the market.  They continually innovate through data, insights and design, engaging more deeply with customers to grow loyalty and market share and deliver on their brand promise.