How Personalisation Can Champion Your eCommerce Business

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

From advice in helping you to improve your average-order-value overnight to understanding the importance of User Generated Content, we’ve really talked at length in recent months about ways in which you can develop your eCommere marketing strategies.

Well, today we move onto, personalisation. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t agree with the notion that effective personalisation can lead to increases in website conversions and online sales. Some may even go as far as saying that personalisation is a fundamental component for all online businesses, rather than being seen as an additional bolt-on to your existing digital marketing strategy.

Intuitive rather than intrusive personalisation

Your customers hate nothing more than irrelevance, but does that mean they’re in favour of more personalised shopping experiences? No, not necessarily. You should never underestimate the intelligence of your audience…plus they can also smell a rat when they see one.

BloomReach, a leading personalisation specialist, discovered that 31% of consumers would purchase more frequently if a website was specifically tailored to suit their needs. However, it must be noted that the same sample of consumers also raised questions over a website’s methods in personalising content and whether their personal data was being exploited as a result. Indeed, all businesses must ensure that their personalised shopping experiences are cute, subtle and clever, rather than being creepy or meddling in any way.

Is it really just for bigger brands with bigger budgets?

When anybody talks about personalisation, they immediately head straight to Amazon, Netflix or Spotify. While these may be the more obvious examples of effective personalisation, they’re not the only ones who are doing it. With so much coverage of Amazon’s effective use of personalisation, slightly smaller brands with much smaller marketing budgets can easily become intimidated by the whole concept of personalisation as a marketing strategy.

In its purest form, personalisation is all about data, both qualitative and quantitative. However, most online businesses think when you’ve got their name, location and email address you’ve cracked it. Well, it’s a good start, nevertheless, but you’re still barely scratching the surface. Effective personalisation largely focuses on other, more advanced factors such as purchase behaviour, interests, real-time social activity and key lifestyle factors.

Data segmentation then allows you to target particular groups or individuals with highly personalised content and messaging. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Weather based personalisation

Scary isn’t it? You can log onto an eCommerce site from anywhere in the world and they can tell you what the current weather is in your location. Not only that, they can also provide you with products, content and suggestions based on whether it’s sunny or snowing outside.

Using a weather API, that’s what fashion retailer, Burton, actually decided to do. As a result, they witnessed an 11% increase in sales during this period.

burton ecommerce personalisation

Personalisation through surveys & questionnaires

Why spend days, weeks and months trawling through endless amounts of data to discover your audience’s interests when you can just ask them instead? Well, this more obvious method of data collection may be on the cusp of being slightly invasive, but unsurprisingly it’s extremely effective.

Sojeans is a self-proclaimed online concept store, so instead of featuring the more conventional product filtering elements they decided to create an integrated questionnaire, disguised as a ‘personal online advisor’, with a series of questions about your preferred size, style and fit. Honestly, it’s brilliant, have a go yourself!

sojeans ecommerce personalisation

Taking it to the next level in terms of personal shopping experiences is, Stitch Fix. This US based fashion retailer is in a league of its own when it comes to personalisation. In fact, the whole business model is based on personalised experiences.

From the very start of the customer journey, users are asked to complete a number of questionnaires and surveys about style, size, price and lifestyle. Next, each user is then assigned a ‘personal stylist’ who uses a human-touch to hand-pick a small selection of clothes to ship to the customer.

Once arrived, the customer then has 3 days to decide whether to keep or return the pieces, with the feedback being provided to the stylist being used to make informed choices about the customer’s next purchase. Not only does this model act as a complete cross-over between traditional retail and highly personalised shopping experiences, it’s also a purchase cycle that aims to improve with each transaction.

stitch fix ecommerce personalisation

Personalising for first time visitors

Statistically, first time visitors to your website are more likely to be browsers rather than serious purchasers, but how can your business use personalisation techniques to ensure that first-time visitors become repeat purchasers?

Take Naked Wines, for example. If you’re a first time visitor, you’re provided with an entirely different homepage to that of a returning purchaser. As we can see, the brand’s value proposition is clearly visible, as well as an introductory offer specifically designed for first-time purchasers.

naked wines ecommerce personalisation

Personalising for price sensitive users

Instead of sneering at that segment of users who love to filter from lowest to highest price, as they spend the majority of their session dissecting your ‘clearance’ section, perhaps it’ll be more worthwhile personalising their next shopping experience.

Displaying a selection of products which are much closer to their price range, as well as offering price match guarantees and coupons on certain products that have high basket abandonment rates, are all likely to be effective techniques.

The Takeaway

Regardless of your industry or sector, the statistics on personalisation are pretty compelling, with research from Invesp suggesting that 53% of online shoppers believe personalisation is valuable and 45% preferring to shop on eCommerce sites that provide personal recommendations.

For the most part, personalisation is a cost effective eCommerce marketing strategy, although it’s critical that all elements are relevant, highly-targeted and reflective of your brand or business.

We suggest keeping a beady eye on personalisation over the next few years because it’s only going to get bigger, better and even more powerful.