David Swift
David Swift 19 January 2022

Ecommerce Personalisation an Inconvenient Truth

The word personalisation is often bandied around, and made to fit whatever criteria mosts suits the author. The OED defines it as “the action of designing or producing something to meet someone’s individual requirements”. Take particular note, that there is zero mention of “segmentation”, in this definition, as it has zero place in personalisation. Spot the person trying to suggest it is, they are trying to flog you old technology.

Personalisation, has become almost a cliché, alongside other favourites like “synergy”, “cross-platform”, and “cloud computing.” The idea of personalising the shopping experience for individual customers has almost become the standard of perfection in the ecommerce world.

If you can sufficiently customise the customer experience, it’s guaranteed to create a buying frenzy—or at least that’s the idea.

And there certainly is some truth regarding the benefits of personalisation. After all, Amazon is the king of personalised recommendations, analysing your shopping patterns and browsing history, the preferences of similar customers, and thousands of other data points to give frighteningly relevant shopping suggestions.

But there’s an inconvenient truth lurking behind the bold proclamations regarding the power of personalisation: personalisation is only effective when it’s built upon the solid foundation of good user experience. 


Personalisation – A More Detailed Definition

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of personalisation, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. It’s a relatively simple concept. In a nutshell:

Personalisation is real-time customisation of a customer’s buying journey using dynamic content delivered based on individual preferences.

In other words, personalisation means creating a unique shopping experience for each customer in real time. Every customer sees a slightly different version of your message/brand, with that real-time experience being shaped and defined by that individual shopper’s personal preferences.

SwiftERM use buying history and impression to identify not only each individual consumer’s own personal preferences, but most importantly, ranks them in order of which have the highest imminent buying propensity.

If every indication says, this individual product is next on the shopping list, what fool would send them something else? No wonder then, that this delivers a meteoric rise in the rate of return for marketing, but more importantly it isn’t limited to a new strategy, or different implementation. It work’s alongside existing campaigns and infrastructure, to complement existing returns.

When you’re nearly out of dog food and send you details and a link to the exact product, brand, variety, flavour, including pack size, you most want, that’s personalisation. When you’re on Zappos and you get a discount coupon because it’s your birthday, that’s another form of personalisation.

At its heart, personalisation is about presenting a customer with the right offer and information at the right time so you can maximize conversions and give the customer a pleasing shopping experience.

Personalisation is about being as relevant as possible to the individual consumer in the hopes of generating the greatest level of conversion.

The Power of Personalisation

Just how effective is ecommerce personalisation? Recent studies indicate that it’s incredibly effective.

study in Forbes showed that personalisation truly matters to customers and can significantly increase conversion rates. Just take a look at the introduction to the study:

“Consumers expect highly personalised shopping experiences from retailers and are willing to spend more money when brands deliver targeted recommendations. Despite those expectations, however, a majority of consumers are disappointed with the ongoing lack of personalisation in their shopping experiences. On average 71% express some level of frustration when their experience is impersonal. The proliferation of new devices and the rapidly evolving technology landscape has led to a “personalisation gap” in the shopping experience, and as consumers’ expectations rise, retailers are struggling to meet them.”

The study then goes on to reveal some truly impressive numbers regarding the effectiveness of personalisation.

  • 44% of consumers said they would likely become repeat customers if their experience was personalised.
  • 49% of surveyed shoppers purchased a product they didn’t originally intend to buy after receiving a personalised recommendation.
  • 54% of consumers said they expected to receive a personalised discount within 24 hours of identifying themselves to a brand (via email signup, etc.).
  • 40% of consumers purchased something more expensive because their experience was personalised.
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