May 27 2016

Blog: Personalization

Personalizing the Shopping Experience

I recently returned home from a trip to the West Coast. It was my first time visiting California and I loved everything about it – the sun, the sand, the al fresco dining. As a lifelong New Englander, summertime temperatures in February is something I’ve only ever dreamed about.

While I absolutely took advantage of soaking up the sunshine, I couldn’t help but do a little shopping. After all, I am an ecommerce professional and I wanted to check out the trends.

It was so nice to walk into a store and not be bombarded with winter-specific products and promotions. In Rhode Island, the stores have been full of cozy sweaters, warm mittens, and weather-proof boots for months.

What’s amazing is that even stores I was familiar with through their East Coast locations were merchandised totally different on the West Coast. And it makes sense why – it would be impractical to think that a full length down jacket would sell as well, if at all, in sunny California as it does in Rhode Island during the winter months.

That is a great example of a little thing called personalization – and it goes a long way with shoppers.

Brick and mortar stores have it relatively easy – each of their multiple locations can be merchandised and decorated to meet demographic or geographic needs and sales associates are available to help shoppers find the item(s) they’re looking for, offer advice on product fit or reviews, recommend products they might also like, and answer questions at checkout related to promotions, coupons, or return policies.

But how can retailers give their customers the same personalized and engaging experience through their digital store? Do your West Coast customers have to be bombarded with wintery products on the homepage when they visit your site? Thanks to ecommerce technology, it’s relatively effortless to create. Just be sure your ecommerce platform can support the functionality:

  • Dynamic Content. Serve up the right products and messaging to the right customers at the right time. Simply set parameters for which customer groups get to see which content, based on browser behavior, shopper profile, and/or geo location. It’s the ideal way to give your customers that “wow, how did you know exactly what I was looking for?!” feeling.
  • On-site Search. Probably one of the most under-utilized features by retailers and one of the most-used features by shoppers. Not all shoppers like to browse; in fact, up to 30% of visitors to your site know what they’re looking for and will go directly to the search box to find it. And because these visitors are on a mission, they're more likely to convert.
  • Up Sells & Cross Sells. You don’t need a sales associate to suggest these items – just make sure you have a great team managing the merchandising of your digital store.
  • Ratings & Reviews. Searching for product reviews online before making a purchase has become a standard component of the buying journey. You can make it easy for customers to post and read reviews if you have the right tools.

Is it worth the investment in updating my technology?

YES! According to a Forrester report, U.S. online retail sales are expected to grow 57% by 2018 and account for 11% of total retail sales. With such a significant rise in online shopping, it is imperative that you deliver the same brand experience to your customers regardless of the channel they use to shop, because that’s what they expect:

  • 75% of consumers like when brands personalize messaging and offers. (Source: Aberdeen Group)
  • 40% of customers buy more from retailers who personalize the shopping experience across channels. (Source: mybuys.com)
  • 74% of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content (offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests. (Source: Janrain & Harris Interactive)
  • Adding personalization experience to shopping could lift sales by 7.8%. (Q2 – The Rise of Me-tail)

In today’s digital world, personalization is a key component of any commerce site. Show your customers that you know who they are and that you want them to enjoy a great shopping experience with your brand.

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