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What is the Future of Personalization in Ecommerce?
No doubt creating a frictionless customer experience is the key to navigating the choppy seas of choice. With the market flooded by eCommerce businesses, tech-savvy customers are becoming pickier day by day. They are much more demanding than ever before in a sophisticated way. Enterprise size eCommerce companies must push the boundaries of customer experience to maintain a strong competitive position in the market. This means setting up a system that understands customers’ needs, creating a seamless experience, and predicting future needs to drive more personalized experiences.
In this blog, we’ll look at what does eCommerce personalization mean? Take a look at benefits of personalization at scale and major shifts in the market that will drive the future of eCommerce to the next level.
What Does Ecommerce Personalization Mean?
eCommerce personalization means delivering personalized experiences for customers online. This could be in the form of individualized offers, product suggestions, and dynamic content based on customers’ previous purchasing habits, demographics, and other personal data.
As per a publication from PWC, 73% of people take into consideration the experience they had when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
This shows that personalization is increasingly becoming an invaluable component of the most engaging customer experiences. It is not only allowing marketers to increase net new acquisition, but also increase basket size and repeat purchases.
There are multiple ways of personalizing the content, right from personalized product suggestions on retailers’ homepages to marketing emails related to cart abandonment, and many others.
Infographic: Future of Retail & Commerce in a Nutshell
Benefits of Personalization in Ecommerce
People have an intimate relationship with their mobile devices as they see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Smartphone shopping is at a historic high as PwC stated that 37% of users shop online via mobile, while 29% buy products in store.
The exciting promise of personalization – achieving a 360-degree view of the customer and uplift users’ journey – will drive marketing success to the next level. Personalization brings a slew of benefits – right from bringing a consistent omnichannel experience that adapts to customer needs and goals in real-time and rewards businesses with high conversion rates.
Whether it is a traditional organization or a challenger brand, the focus should not be solely on sales, rather the focus should be on building experiences that keep the ever-demanding customers coming back – to engage, shop or purchase.
Let’s consider some brilliant statistics that explicitly say personalization matters:
- Marketers see the positive impact of personalization with an average of 3x increase in ROI. (Monetate)
- 70% of customers say their customer loyalty is impacted by how personalized and tailored experience a brand provides them. (Salesforce)
- 72% of customers prefer personalized messaging services. (SmarterHQ)
What Factors are Shaping the Future of eCommerce Personalization
The future of eCommerce personalization is based on providing convenience to both customers and merchants by enabling experiences across channels. Have a look at factors that play fundamental role in deciding the future of personalization in eCommerce:
1. Customer Data and Analytics
Understanding the needs of dynamics of high value customers is crucial for a brand to survive in the cut-throat competition. To make sense of customer behavioral patterns and browsing, data gathering must be effective. So, top marketers should build systems to collect structured and unstructured data, leverage the power of algorithms to identify behavioral patterns and customer inclination, and analyze capabilities to feed that information into the dashboards for intelligent decision-making.
Use of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are recommended that act as a pivotal marketing tool to unify paid and owned data from different channels. Unlike traditional CRM solutions, CDPs come up with a built-in ML automation system that can refine data (from first-party and third-party sources), connect a single customer across devices, and collect cookies to model triggers to create the best next experience for the customer.
Making personalized outreach across channels requires companies to develop and interact with new data (including voice and visual). For that to happen, the IT and marketing teams should join hands to take the technological leap forward. A product management team should redefine the organization’s martech roadmap, build strategy, develop business cases, and list the library of standards and lessons learned. Martech engineering should equip the teams with cybersecurity systems so they can respond to the evolving needs that may come with the expansion of personalized experiences.
Next Read: How CDPs Will Drive Growth for Luxury Retails Brands
2. Continuing Momentum of AI and Machine Learning
Continuing advancements in technology, the increasing accessibility of AI, machine learning and big data has been the major driver of personalization in the real world of commerce. Machines built on such technologies crunch data effectively, optimize processes that currently take huge time and effort, and drive increased eCommerce personalization that can help give customers a better in-store experience.
Websites that offer personalized products and services based on previous purchasing behaviors are continuously harnessing the power of machine learning to analyze customers’ buying behaviors and browsing actions. Many retailers are creating marketing campaigns focused on customer insights to drive successful results.
Suggestions don’t have to be product related only but should also be around how a user comes across in a search for an item and find which are in stock and at what price. In the future, more advanced and intelligent AI tools will help users to filter contents easily and get the exact results that they’re looking for.
For example, an American Contemporary Art Gallery, establishing its presence as a large virtual art gallery in the US, has taken AI and personalization into consideration to let the art speak itself in front of customers. They invested in Virtual Viewing Room functionality to transform art pieces' buying and selling experience to the next level. The luxury art retailer, with the help of the right development agency has not only enhanced the customer art-viewing experience but also maximized its commerce-driven revenue.
Case Study: Opun Limited uses ML Intelligence to Build a Smart Chatbot System
3. Rise in Subscription Services
As customers continuously demand more from the exclusive brand they do business with, the subscription-based model will take the personalization in the eCommerce space to the next level. Digital subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or even Spotify are now driving the entertainment space, while services like Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix have started to take their own share in the retail space by creating an experience economy.
In the coming years, the subscription model will evolve into something much bigger as they are solving a basic problem for the customer by proactively providing a product when and where the customer needs it even before the need arises. With the integration of recurring relationships, retailers can discover new ways to position themselves in the dynamic marketplace. For example, they can create immense business value through horizontal and vertical products or services integration into the experiences, creating a holistic lifestyle, which goes beyond a single product for customers. With the help of the recurring revenue generation model, brands can imbibe customer desire for a purpose so that they can create a holistic customer experience – engaging their highly valued customers across multiple stages in their membership journey.
Next Read: What’s Next in Retail and Commerce - [A Whitepaper]
4. Voice Commerce and Headless Technology
According to a research, 3.25 billion people from all over the globe use voice assistants. Also, the number is expected to increase as the software finds its way into more devices. With the popularity of Google Home and Alexa to conduct some home shopping and booking appointments, people are getting more comfortable with the purchases using voice-assisted technologies. By allowing customers to interact with brands through conversational mediums, retailers are able to reduce some friction of traditional websites and provide a more human experience.
For example, retailers are leveraging voice commerce in their brick & mortar stores, enabling customers to quickly view the product details, where it is located within the store simply speaking into an app. Also, Amazon’s Alexa remembers users’ preferred brand and quantity preferences, and hence making reordering frictionless.
The future of voice commerce trends is promising, and it is expanding along with the rise in subscriptions to drive headless commerce powered by IoT devices. Headless commerce is a commerce engine that can be coupled with anything – like CMS, DXP, IoT devices, or custom front-end using APIs. With headless, brands have the freedom to customize their digital storefront to keep up with customer needs without impacting the backend. The decoupled nature of this commerce allows limitless flexibility to offer customers innovative experiences in eCommerce. Moreover, brands can offer them a consistent experience across channels by focusing on customer needs changing over time.
5. Contextual Based Personalization
As shoppers have more choices and control over transactions, they are more likely to leave a website if they don’t get what they want at the right time and place. In the online shopping world, hyper-personalization not only triggers results based on customers’ preferences and demographics, but it also keeps track of the changing needs and intentions of customers in every session. The true measure of effective personalization will be the contextual ability to understand the individual customer needs and serve them with the exact match in that moment of need.
Delivering contextual experience is the topmost priority for businesses across the globe. Sitecore Experience Commerce that combines content and commerce together to offer omnichannel retail experiences delivers the right content to the right customer in the moment of need.
Useful Read: What is Contextual Marketing, And Why Should You Care?
Also, with technologies like visual AI, retailers can obtain a deep understanding of an individual’s shopper’s styles and taste by analyzing visual attributes they engage with. Such insights act like a long-term personal assistant who understands exactly what their customer needs are.
How to Get Started with Personalization for your eCommerce Brand?
Things become easier for people when they have a track to follow. The same is the case when offering better-personalized experiences for your customers. Below is a brief step-by-step path for you to initiate elite personalization:
- Understand where your business offerings currently stand and what kind of personalization you’re looking to offer to your audience. Make this decision considering the revenue you expect to generate from the experience you’ll offer.
- Research, look for already available personalization tools, and see if they comply with your business services and infrastructure.
- Collect and train resources for the whole personalization project. Decide the performance metrics, and job roles of employees associated with the project.
- Develop an in-depth, long-term, technical strategy for your personalization plan keeping the benchmarks and goals in view.
- Start implementing the plan in segments and sections. Keep track of each segment to see which one performs the best.
- Assess the performance and continue tracking the metrics. Optimize the areas that need improvement. Go for customer surveys and reviews to understand better from an actual user’s perspective.
- Once the personalization strategy is set right, start scaling it across the other business and sales channels.
What’s Next for Personalization in Ecommerce - Turning the Future into Reality
As consumers are having tons of choices, they don’t want to be bothered with irrelevant results and waste time searching for what to purchase. They want a seamless experience and quick navigation to make fast decisions.
To see what’s next, it is important for eCommerce businesses to build a personalization journey to get to the full suite of capabilities needed for dynamic personalization: real-time, consistent, clear communication across the consumer lifecycle.
Often, the difficult thing is getting started on that journey. At Icreon, we believe companies can drive value when they put more data and people into action using agile mindset & technology capabilities to develop real experience and expertise. Make the personalization journey more rewarding for not just your brand but customers as well. Explore Icreon’s Ecommerce & Consulting Services.