Shutterfly Product VP on The Power of Personalization (Part 2)

At Shutterfly, customer personalization starts with customers explicitly telling us a photo is a favorite. Other times we infer which ones they like. If we see people in photos, for example, we know they’re probably important to the customer.

We look at which products they’ve purchased and which designs they tend to choose. Then we rank their photos by image quality and content. On the backend, we improve the image quality – or we prompt the customer to change to a higher res photo. Our algorithms look at images over and over again, and the ranking is continuously updated. It’s important to stay up to date as favorites change. Each birthday generates a whole new batch of photos.

Next, we choose the best images and present products made just for them. It could be a mug, teddy bear or special scrapbook of photos, and the choices are based on past preferences. We ask for feedback, track when they edit a product and what they add to cart. All of this data is used the next time we present something, so it’s even more personalized.

Make It Easy For Them To Choose

Another strategy that we use comes into play after a customer has added something to cart. Before they check out, we offer even more options. Customer personalization makes it easy for them to decide as it takes the work off their plate.

Automation is critical because you don’t get many chances with customers. We use Adobe Target. It’s an AI automation tool which captures and values each data point. Even if you already have data, instrumentation collects it and make it understandable. You might not get a second chance to impress your customer, so you need to get it right the first time.

New Product Ideas & Testing

When launching a new product, we always start with a hypothesis. Explain why you believe it will be successful. Are there no competitors? Is it well-suited? Is there a gap in the market?

Next, size up the opportunity. How great is the real demand? Then, build the proof of concept or MVP to validate. Use usability and A/B testing to find strengths and weaknesses, and iterate forward from there. During the entire process keep customer personalization in mind, especially if it’s a niche market.

At Shutterfly, we like to test new products on a small set of people. Then we iterate until it sticks. It might be something as simple as usability testing with a group of 30 testers. is a great tool to use here.

We also look at outside sources and build look-alike models. Look at where people shop, consumer habits and what they buy. From there, we can adapt this information to develop promotions. Some shoppers are only motivated by freebies – some via beauty and others via utility. Customer personalization leverages these differences, and automation makes it happen faster.


Click here for Part 1

Click here for Part 3

About the speaker
Kristie Gan Shutterfly, VP of Product & Head of Commerce Member

Kristie Gan is the VP of Product & Head of Commerce at Shutterfly - responsible for overseeing over $2 billion in revenue across the Shutterfly & LifeTouch brands. Previously, she was the first General Manager of Shutterfly's Cards and Stationery, Photo Gifts, and Calendars business. She started off her career in technology, media & telecom investment banking. Kristie holds an MBA from Harvard University and currently lives in San Francisco.

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Shutterfly Product VP on The Power of Personalization

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