Personalization is to e-commerce what the common-touch is to storytelling -- it’s the x-factor that makes an experience so compelling.
You’ve probably heard that personalizing the user journey is more imperative than ever. There are many reasons for this: first and foremost, customers have more choices than ever. Consequently, if you are not creating experiences that are immediately relevant and meaningful to the consumer, you risk them leaving to find a brand that is. Personalization connects the buyer to the right products, content, and services (and the helpful information they need to make purchasing decisions) via the channels they prefer. By doing so, your brand creates a natural flow through the journey that makes your brand stand out amongst the rest.
Resonating With Customers
A common reference to personalization are the Amazon or Netflix experiences. At heart, it involves the use of algorithms to create a profile of individual users combined with crowd logic that enables the system to anticipate a buyers needs and make specific recommendations that resonate with them at the right moment.
A great example of personalization in action is Kate Somerville’s e-commerce store. Shopping for skincare is an extremely personal endeavor that can depend on health, genetics, behavior and more. In-store a shopper can receive a personal consultation with a store representative. Online, the shopper faces the challenge of not having that same 1:1 experience. That’s where Kate Somerville turned to online personalization to replicate that experience.
When a new customer visits the website, the brand does not have any pre-existing information on them. Using crowd logic Kate Somerville can display the most popular and viewed skincare products to start. As users engage with their website the algorithms start to learn and adapt to product searches, pages viewed, and shopping cart activity for each individual. Soon customers see the items and offers that matter to them, furthermore increasing engagement, likelihood to purchase and enabling chances for the merchant to upsell and cross sell.
Keep in mind; personalization is not just about improving the shopping experience, it can also (when done right) have a big impact on the bottom line. Since adopting digital personalization, Kate Somerville has increased revenue by 14 percent, increased valuable web traffic by 66 percent, and decreased the bounce rate by 9 percent. You can read more about their impressive results in the Guidance and Nosto case study.
Why You Must Be Relevant to Customers
The benefits of personalizing your shoppers’ journey are clear, while the penalties for failing to do so are increasingly dire. Today’s customers have zero tolerance for an experience that is irrelevant to them. If your e-commerce website doesn’t resonate with them the first time, there’s a good chance they’ll never visit again. Moreover, users expect that your product information and inventory be up-to-date. The worst thing you can do is make a recommendation only to not have that item in stock. Being relevant in real-time is an expectation of today's customer which makes this a competitive requirement.
Personalization is a driving force in e-commerce which will only accelerate over time. More customer data leads to more insight, which you need to harness and operationalize faster than your competitors.
Today, machine-learning, which gathers information according to a set of rules (while testing against historical data) is facilitating this kind of actionable understanding. In the future, artificial intelligence (AI), which allows algorithms to generate new rules after learning from experience, will both expedite this process and take it to a new level. We’re not quite there yet, but companies that have the ability to tap this technology will have an inside track to customers.
Personalization does not have to be complicated. As the famous artist, Michelangelo once said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” That is a philosophy adhered to by both Guidance and Nosto. Simply start with the basics, keep things straightforward, and build from there. That’s how merchants deliver the most engaging and rewarding experiences for their customers, by learning more about them and making it very easy to give them what they want and when they want it.
Personalization, when done right, helps merchants connect with their customers, naturally, intuitively, and effortlessly. For more information on personalization best practices and other digital commerce insights and strategies, please contact Guidance.