According to Gartner, smart personalization increases profits by up to 15%.
Which is why if you aren’t already personalizing your online store, it’s pretty clear that you should be.
But don’t just take our word for it—or even Gartner’s. Study after study and stat after stat, the value of eCommerce personalization has been proven over and over again. In fact…
eCommerce personalization stats
90% of marketing pros report a measurable lift in results when they implement personalization.
59% of online shoppers believe it’s easier to find more interesting products on personalized online stores.
53% of shoppers say personalizing their online shopping is a valuable service.
86% report that personalization plays a significant role in purchase decisions.
49% of customers say they bought items they didn’t intend to buy because of a personalized recommendation from a brand. And only 5% of those impulse purchases were returned.
44% of consumers say they’ll happily repeat a personalized shopping experience.
And if you’re still skeptical? eCommerce giant Amazon says that 35% of its sales come from its personalization engine.
What is eCommerce personalization?
So, it’s clear that eCommerce personalization is an important tool in the marketer’s toolbox. But let’s pause here to get on the same page about what the term means.
eCommerce personalization means knowing each customer’s preferences and personalizing the online shopping experience to meet their unique needs.
Sometimes, that means geo-targeting to automatically show them shipping information for their city or region. Sometimes it means knowing their shopping history and showing them products that they are more likely to love. Sometimes it means understanding their real-time interaction with your brand and changing product recommendations to reflect their current interests and behaviors.
For example, let’s say you’re a computer retailer and a long-time customer named Jade is browsing your store. You have her purchase history. You know which of your computer-related articles she’s read. You know her shipping address. And you know she’s a meticulous researcher and won’t buy before she’s ready no matter how many limited-time coupons you toss up in the browser.
For Jade, personalization might mean showing her Apple products because she always buys Apple. It may mean simplifying the buying address so she doesn’t have to re-enter the info you already have on her billing and shipping. It might mean noticing that she used to buy MacBook Air-related add-ons, but her most recent purchase was a MacBook Pro, so now you should help her find Pro add-ons.
The ultimate goal here is for Jade to walk away feeling like you get her. She doesn’t have to re-give you info you already have. She doesn’t have to scroll through 10 sales screens to get to the MacBook Pro products. You’ve done everything you can to help make her purchase process as easy as possible based on what you already know about Jade.
eCommerce personalization examples
So, we get it. Personalization is customizing our eCommerce content for individual customers—and studies show it’s a strategy with potential for huge ROI.
What kinds of things should we be personalizing? What does personalization actually look like? What are other retailers doing right that we can learn from?
Here are nine eCommerce personalization examples to get you started:
1. Tailor content to your customer’s location.
One of the simplest forms of eCommerce personalization is knowing where your customer is shopping from and personalizing their experience based on location.
When I browse your store from New Jersey, giving me easy access to shipping information for New Jersey makes sense. When I browse from France or Hong Kong or Estonia, one of my first questions might be “do you ship where I am?” and answering that question quickly is probably a good start.
Nordstrom Rack does this well—showing me a top banner that advertises free shipping when I browse from the US and then offering me a pop-up with country-specific information when I browse from northeastern Europe.
2. Show messages based on customer interests.
Now, you won’t always have information about customer interests, but when you do, personalization is about harnessing it.
Let’s say you are a tea and coffee retailer and I’m a customer named Jaques who loves tea. I’ve never purchased coffee or clicked through your coffee products. But I have purchased a variety of tea blends.
If you have a coffee campaign and a tea campaign, it’s pretty clear that I should get the tea campaign messaging.
3. Recommend relevant products.
If I’m a customer who has recently purchased a set of Egyptian cotton sheets, maybe you show me an Egyptian cotton duvet or matching decorative pillows.
If I’ve been browsing your blog posts about the best sewing machine for beginners, it makes sense to show me the top three sewing machines your article recommended.
Amazon is the undisputed leader in this space, with their recommendation engine accounting for a reported 35% of their revenue.
Well done, Amazon. There are two books on this list I’m going to add to my cart.
Now, recommendations can be based on a lot of different customer insights. You can recommend products based on interests. You can recommend similar products to those that a person has purchased or been browsing. You can recommend best sellers in the category your shopper is interested in. You can recommend add-ons or products that go well together.
Amazon does a little bit of all of these things and has found a balance that drives incredible results for the brand.
4. Make the shopping experience continuous—even when the shopper takes a break.
In the classic UX manual Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug’s foundational concept is this: Don’t make your customers do the work.
When we’re shopping, in particular, we don’t want to have to click six times to get to what we need. We don’t want to scratch our heads, wondering what your convoluted actually means. And we really don’t want to be halfway through our shopping experience, have to log off to attend to something else, and then come back to find that you haven’t saved our place.
Just like Netflix and Hulu save our place mid-video and let us click to keep watching the moment we log back in, retailers should make it easy for customers who took a break to keep on shopping—picking up where they left off.
According to Shopify, continuous shopping generates an average of $600 per 1,000 impressions.
5. Personalize images (like Netflix!).
People process images 60,000 times faster than words. They’re also four times as likely to remember a visual than a written message.
Those are some powerful stats—and a powerful reason that your personalization shouldn’t just focus on words.
One company that knocks this out of the park is Netflix. Not only do they recommend movies and TV based on your unique watching history, but they also customize their artwork to your tastes.
Love Mel Gibson? You’re more likely to see his face on Netflix art. Respond to strong female leads? You’ll see more of them in your feed.
For retailers, following in Netflix’s footsteps might mean having a variety of homepage banners and showing customers the one that’s most relevant to them. It might mean customizing graphics at your pet supply store to show me puppies if I’m a dog owner, kittens if I’m a cat person, and lovebirds if I’m a bird owner. The goal here is to reinforce my connection with your brand by showing me not only messages that are relevant to me, but images that are as well.
6. Tailor your messages based on where a customer arrives from.
Have data that suggests your Facebook followers are likely to make a purchase? When someone enters from Facebook, serve up a personalized message the moves them toward said purchase.
This tactic is especially good when you’re dealing with brand-new customers and you don’t have any historic data on their interests, behavior, or purchases.
7. Personalize your eCommerce emails.
Email was one of the first places marketers started truly personalizing for their customers—and today it’s still one of the most effective. In fact, personalized email marketing increases revenue by 760%.
One company that does eCommerce email personalization well? BookBub. Users sign up for daily deal emails that feature 10+ books on sale for $2.99 or less.
These emails are tailored to each customer’s preferences. If I read Historical Fiction and Romance, those are the offers I’ll see on a daily basis. If I’m in to True Crime, I’ll see investigative memoirs and mysteries.
BookBub gets it right: This is a book I’d buy.
8. Personalize search results.
When a customer searches your shoe site for red flats, you can not only show them all your red flats, but you can push the shoes they’re most likely to be interested in (based on past behavior) to the top of the search.
If the last time I was on your site, I spent some time looking at red Tieks ballet flats, I may be looking for those again (and just unable to remember the brand name) or I may be looking for something similar. Pushing those results and others like them to the top of my search makes it easier for me to resume my purchase.
9. Sort products based on customer behavior.
You don’t have to limit yourself to sorting products by popularity, price, size, or style. You can also show users an order based on their interests—surfacing products they’ve already visited or products similar to what they’ve been clicking on or purchasing.
Getting started with eCommerce personalization
So, these are some of the common tactics eCommerce retailers use to personalize for their customers. But if you’re just getting started, there are three important things you need before you start implementing these tactics.
The first is a personalization strategy.
The second is reliable customer data. (Because how can you personalize my experience if you don’t understand me as a customer?)
And the third is technology that turns your data into actionable insights for 1:1 personalization.
The goal: automated 1:1 personalization
Now, when we’re talking about tactics, it’s important to note that not all tactics are created equal.
It’s easy (and expected by many customers) for a brand to understand where I’m browsing from and show me shipping information for my city, state, or country. It’s easy to categorize me into a segment of dog-lovers and show me dog-related content.
What’s harder—and vastly more valuable—is personalization that treats users as individuals, not segments. Like when Netflix shows me art that fits my tastes. Or when Amazon recommends products for me based on my specific browsing history. Or, perhaps even more powerful, when a company understands my emotional context and stops showing me baby products after a miscarriage.
To get to this kind of personalization—often called hyper-personalization or 1:1 personalization—marketers need not only a solid strategy and accurate, real-time customer data. We also need systems that can automate personalization.
Personalization advice from the experts
If eCommerce personalization is your goal, we’d love to chat about how Lytics can help.
We’ve got the technology to help you collect, connect, and interpret customer data and automate personalization. And we’ve got the strategic services to help you make a plan to reach your personalization goals.