March 29, 2012, 11:46 AM

SkinIt puts the wraps on personalized products and data

Its Customizer tool produces consumer preference data while letting shoppers personalize items.

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SkinIt lets online shoppers choose from among a wide range of protective covers or “skins” for mobile phones, iPads, laptops, desktop PCs and other consumer electronics. And with a new Customizer tool that lets customers design their own skin decoration—with a Chicago Bulls logo or their own photo, for example—SkinIt has boosted skin sales about 25%, chief technology officer Darryl Kuhn says.

“When we launched the Customizer, we boosted sales of custom products from a range of 7% to 10% of sales to a range of 40% to 45%,” Kuhn says.

The tool, which SkinIt built in-house, lets customers choose among a variety of ready-made images, such as professional sports team logos, then modify them by size or positioning to make them appear a certain way on the protective skin they can order to attach to their device. Shoppers can also load their own photos or graphics to Skinit.com and use the Customizer to modify them.

SkinIt, which was featured on Internet Retailer’s 2012 Hot 100 Best of the Web list, also makes the Customizer available to other retailers as an Internet-hosted software application. Its retailer customers, which include Microsoft Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc., pay SkinIt for a software license and any additional engineering fees needed to set up the Customizer on a web site. Retailers also pay either SkinIt or other manufacturers  for the actual coverings that consumers purchase. SkinIt declined to be more specific about its pricing.

Through Customizer, SkinIt also gathers and shares with retailers information on the designs that consumers create for their device covers. For example, if consumers who purchase covers for iPads are ordering mostly particular sports teams logos, SkinIt will share that information with retailers so they can promote and merchandise those designs.

Other times the information on consumer interests is more subtle, but still useful in marketing and merchandising, Kuhn adds. For example, if a retailer’s customers are viewing and choosing images of pets for their device coverings, the merchant can devise more effective marketing and merchandising campaigns by including images of dogs or cats in campaign images, he says.

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