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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 1:1 experience, and predicting future needs to drive more personalized experiences.

In this blog, we’ll look at what does eCommerce personalization mean? 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 customer experiences on eCommerce websites. 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.   

According to a study conducted by Epsilon research, 80% of consumers prefer a company if it offers a tailored experience to them. 

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’ home pages to marketing emails related to cart abandonment, and many others.

Infographic: Future of Retail & Commerce in a Nutshell

Benefits of Personalization in Ecommerce 

Over the pandemic, users have spent most of their time on their smartphones, computer screens, and tablets. During that time, customers have grown an intimate relationship with their device as they see it first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Smartphone shopping is at a historic high as PwC stated that 41% of users shop on a daily basis via mobile compared to 39% six months ago.

Even more, 46% of users in the UK and the US say that they would provide personal information in exchange for more personalized experiences.    

The exciting promise of personalization – being able to achieve a 360-degree view of the customer and uplift users’ journey- will drive the marketing success to the next level. Personalization brings a slew of benefits- right from bringing a consistent to 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 20% increase in sales numbers. (Monetate)

  • 44% of consumers admit that they will keep coming for more purchases after having received a personalized shopping experience from a company. (Segment)

  • 77% of users would like to pay more for a personalized customer experience. (Forrester)

What Major Shifts Are Shaping the Future of Personalization in ECommerce

The future of eCommerce personalization will be based on providing convenience to both customers and merchants by enabling experiences across channels.

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, analytics capabilities to feed that information into the dashboards for intelligent decision-making. 

Enter Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) 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, 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). 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 down a library of standards and lessons learned. Martech engineering should equip the teams with cybersecurity systems able to 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

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.

A Global Web Index survey revealed that 56% of users in the UK and U.S. said they wanted online merchants to categorize and organize their products for a seamless experience. 

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 results easily and get the exact results what they’re looking for.

For example, an 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 the buying and selling experience of art pieces to the next level. The luxury art retailer with the right Sitecore 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  

The 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 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: Whitepaper [What’s Next in Retail and Commerce]

Voice Commerce and Headless Technology

There are 128 million monthly active users using voice assistants in the US. eMarketer also mentions that the numbers will continue to increase as the software find 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 trend 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.

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 on 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.  

Might Useful: 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.   

What’s Next- 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, 1:1 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. Let’s meet and chat about your challenges and make the personalization journey more rewarding for your brand and customers as well.