Personalization hasn’t come easy for many retailers. For Luisa Via Roma, the 87-year-old Italy-based luxury fashion retailer, customizing communication with customers has been especially tricky.

Luisa Via Roma sells its 600-plus brands (including Balmain, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana) to more than 150 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., China and Germany, and operates in eight languages. Due to brand guidelines, however, it isn’t allowed to sell certain brands in certain countries. On top of that, every piece in its inventory has different prices across countries.

With 90 percent of its 2016 revenue, which was $127 million, reportedly coming from e-commerce sales, Luisa Via Roma actively sought out a marketing automation and personalization platform at the end of last year, said the retailer’s web project manager, Nicola Antonelli. The goal: to increase customer retention and better monetize its existing online user base.

“[Our customers] don’t want to waste time looking for what they want,” he said. “They want to find it easily and in the shortest time possible.”

In late November, it hired Dynamic Yield, a customer engagement platform specializing in personalization across channels. Its current client roster also includes Anthropologie, Under Armour and Sephora Southeast Asia, as well as the top fashion e-commerce companies in Russia (Lamoda), Latin America (Dafiti) and Africa (Jumia).

According to Anoop Vasisht, general manager of Dynamic Yield’s European region, the partnership with Luisa Via Roma started with a great deal of mistrust on the part of the retailer, following disappointment with past attempts to improve personalization.

In a month’s time, product recommendations in a pop-up “add to cart” window boosted revenue per user by 15 percent. In two-and-a-half months, “you may also like” recommendations features on product pages upped revenue per user by 14 percent. In a month and a half, an in-cart warning of items low in stock resulted in a 6 percent revenue spike per user. (Dynamic Yield reported that, on average, clients see 180 percent higher revenue per visitor among users who interact with product recommendations.)

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 19.43.58Personalized “add to cart” recommendations on LuisaViaRoma.com

At times, Luisa Via Roma took advantage of the option to forgo the automated, AI-driven content in favor of timely content or a promotion specific to a region. For a luxury retailer, that flexibility’s important, said Vasisht. “Maybe there’s a Calvin Klein collection that’s being release today, only in Italy. This is human information; it’s not available to machines. I want customers in Italy to see Calvin Klein on my homepage, and I can make that happen.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 13.39.43An in-cart stock urgency on LuisaViaRoma.com

Luisa Via Roma’s end goal was to “optimize every pixel” throughout each step of the customer funnel, which typically goes: homepage to catalog page, to product page, to cart, to payment page. The key was personalizing five elements: the promotional banner; the informational overlay or pop-up, used to push the customer down the funnel; the overall page layout; the featured product recommendations; and the call to action, or where the customer’s “click” lands them.

The resulting path would be different for a price-sensitive customer than for a brand-conscious customer like LVR’s, said Vasisht. For example, if a customer’s cookies and local storage indicate they’re more price-driven, the banner they’ll see on a retailer’s homepage will feature a callout about a sale; the catalog page will automatically be sorted by price, from low to high; the product page is going to drive a fear of missing out, specifying how many of the item are left in stock; and then the cart page will show any available promotional codes already entered in the indicated field.

For high-spending customers, on the other hand, the homepage will reference items added to the site since their last visit; catalog pages will be sorted by newest items first and product pages will create a sense of credibility, noting that this is currently a popularly viewed item among premium customers.

“Producing the right content, for the right cluster is mandatory now,” said Antonelli, “in particular for luxury fashion retailers, where the cost per acquisition is getting higher and higher.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 14.09.36Personalized “you may also like” recommendations on LuisaViaRoma.com

Once a customer has visited Luisa Via Roma’s site, their “post-click” experience is owned by Dynamic Yield; it personalizes everything from emails from they receive to the ads they see on affiliate sites.

For now, Luisa Via Roma is having fun “playing around” with the available features to see what keeps customers coming back.

“Basically, we’re just testing and testing,” said Antonelli. “We know that it’s like a puzzle, that there’s not ‘one big feature’ that can change the game, but a lot of small improvements can come together to make the difference.”

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