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Personalization in E-commerce: What Is It and How To Create It
Think about what makes customers return to online sales giants like Amazon and mass-market retailers like Walmart. Broad product selection and lower prices certainly help. But as enticing as these features can be, they’re often not enough to stop customers from checking out the competition.
Personalized shopping experiences, on the other hand, can be real differentiators. When online retailers implement personalization well, customers tend to respond. Research shows that 88% of online shoppers are more likely to keep shopping on websites with personalized experiences. That said, the scope of personalization can be tricky for companies to define precisely and execute. Let’s explore what e-commerce personalization is and how to do it.
The Ins and Outs of E-commerce Personalization
You’re probably already familiar with a few e-commerce personalization tactics used by online stores. The basics include your name in an email subject line or message while more sophisticated methods involve showing you product recommendations based on past purchases or special savings on items you buy frequently.
In a broader sense, e-commerce personalization harnesses customer data to deliver unique content, targeted messages, and dynamic experiences. Say someone signs up for a free VPN service because they’re concerned about privacy and security. They exchange their name, location, and a few details about why they’re signing up. In exchange for using the service, a customer also agrees to receive targeted emails and messages.
The company analyses the data and provides personalized tips and suggestions based on whether the VPN is used to stream TV shows, access geo-locked content, or just to secure one’s activity online. Once someone gets close to the limits of a free plan, the provider can suggest custom upgrades and add-ons that optimize the person’s experience.
However, companies don’t have to stop with personalization at the consumer level. Plenty of B2B organizations also use e-commerce personalization. Whether a company services B2C or B2B markets, user data becomes a vehicle for delivering unique experiences. That data is information companies collect in real-time, and use to customize landing page designs, words, and products. It’s about delighting audiences and driving repeat business.
How To Personalize Online Shopper Experiences
The easy part may be knowing and understanding what e-commerce personalization is. Implementing it is a different ballgame because companies often need the right technology. About 53% of digital experience delivery pros say they don’t have the technology they need to provide personalization. This is why it can be so critical for online retailers and sellers to work with tech, SaaS, and digital marketing partners.
Relationships with e-commerce tech and digital marketing experts can make or break the success of personalization efforts. That being said, there are some known ways to deliver unique online shopping experiences and achieve results. Here are a few of them.
Product customizations provide online shoppers with the ultimate personalization experience. And the availability of product customizations does this in a non-intrusive or overly demanding way. That’s because customers feel like they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to these types of shopping events.
For example, someone can choose what words and designs to put on coffee cups or T-shirts. They can also upload graphics and digital photographs to jazz up tote bags, company swag, and trinkets. However, product customizations are becoming more complex than this. Companies such as Smart Customizer allow customers the chance to co-create products, starting with the concept and configuration process.
Continuous shopping is best for loyal customers. Nonetheless, e-commerce sites might try using the tactic on all who establish logins and browse online stores. If you’re familiar with streaming platforms, you already know the idea behind continuous shopping.
When you log in to your favorite service, you often see the shows or movies you watched recently. Maybe you paused an episode or film to finish later. Other times you might start binging a series, but it’s got too many seasons to complete it in one setting.
Online stores can apply the same concept to products. When customers log into the site, they’ll see a reel of products they were browsing during their last session. These items weren’t left in their carts or abandoned but were clearly things they were interested in. That product reel could contain similar items from the same brand, style, or price range. Continuous shopping provides customers with convenience and reminds them why they’re on the site.
By and large, consumers tend to trust the opinions of other shoppers, friends, and family over what a company says about its products. Customers also like to see examples of others using products and services, so they can imagine what it will look and feel like.
Visualization is the same technique real estate agents use to sell a home. That’s why they invest in staging vacant properties or tell homeowners to declutter and remove personal mementos. Seeing an empty or cluttered home can make it challenging for many buyers to see themselves living in it.
User-generated content gives shoppers insights into how products perform in the real world. This content includes reviews, testimonials, photos, and videos. For example, someone can add pictures of themselves wearing a pair of shoes or pieces of clothing. Other shoppers see how the apparel looks on similar body types instead of professional models who may not resemble their physical features.
Email messages are yet another way to reach customers with individualized content. You can use these messages to motivate inactive clients to come back and try your products again. Discounts on shoppers’ previous favorites are a common tactic. But you can get even more personal by featuring new products that match someone’s previous purchase or browsing history.
Another personalization tactic is sending content snippets and links to how-to videos, blog posts, and webinar invitations. This method can work for B2C and B2B companies offering either products or services. It’s especially helpful if your business offers a complex solution or a product that you should demonstrate.
Email automation programs also let you integrate several levels of personalization. These tools allow you to automatically customize the tracking details in the order completion email, include customer names, and offer special deals or discounts based on previous buying behaviors and histories. Overall, automation programs are a relatively cheap and easy way to integrate customer data into your communication and provide personalized experiences for your customers.
The Future of Personalization in E-commerce
Technologies like artificial intelligence are already a part of personalization in e-commerce. However, tech will likely become even more instrumental to the practice. Companies serve too many customers to manually implement personalization in e-commerce environments. And with 71% of consumers expecting personalization, businesses that don’t practice it will leave sales revenue on the table.
Not only do customers expect it, but 76% also become frustrated when personalized options are not available. That means the unique ways companies deliver product suggestions, digital content, and email messages will become more frequent and advanced. Product customizations may become more interactive and facilitate co-creation between consumers and businesses.
This exciting trajectory is bound to open up additional opportunities for companies to understand consumers better and improve customers’ experiences. Plus, online shoppers won’t feel limited by product availability and corporate-level decisions. Ecommerce, while no longer a novel experience, may transform the way consumers obtain goods and services once again.