Christmas eCommerceAny online retailer can tell you there are a million moving parts to prepping for the holiday shopping season: determining inventory, marketing and advertising campaigns, revamping the website, planning the digital strategy… and on and on.

Since Baynote has extensive experience helping online retailers prepare for the holiday season, we thought now would be a good time to share some tips for personalizing your customers’ shopping experiences this year:

1)      Understand customer intentions as they change in real time. In order to deliver a personalized experience that’s in tune with your customers’ changing needs each time they visit your site, you have to go beyond traditional personalization approaches that focus on past purchases and user profiles. This is especially true during the holiday season when people are buying for different friends and family each day. A shopper may visit a sporting goods site one day to buy a fleece jacket for his wife, and the next day to find a  a tent for his son. Rather than personalize the experience based on the fleece jacket he bought during his last visit and leading him to other women’s wear, you can deliver a much more relevant experience to the customer by adjusting your content to his current shopping intentions. In this case, that’s buying a tent. While user profiles and past purchases are certainly important, a visitor’s current intent cannot be overlooked.

Check out Baynote’s eBook to learn more about intent-based personalization.

2)      Take personalization multi-channel. The online experience does not begin and end with a laptop-accessed website. Want proof? Just look at Apple. They sold 9.25M iPads in the last quarter alone, many of which are being used daily to browse and engage with retail sites and products. Further, there are now 222M iOS devices floating around. Take a step back and think about that for a second. Beyond devices, communication channels like email also can’t be ignored! With each additional channel comes a new opportunity for you to personalize your customers’ experiences and make them as relevant as possible.

3)      Think social. Saying social is important is like saying the sky is blue, but you’d be surprised how many online retailers are still struggling with how to actually incorporate this strategy into their businesses.

During the last holiday shopping season, Baynote actually did a study on customers’ online experiences. This included their take on retailers’ behavioral retargeting and privacy practices, mobile and social features, offers and promotions and product merchandising approaches. In terms of social, we found that 16% of respondents purchased an additional product based on their Facebook friends “liking” or purchasing a product! This season, ask yourself how you are making it easier for customers to share your products and their purchases online. If you’re drawing a blank, you may be missing a big opportunity.

4)      Develop a mobile strategy. One thing we also discovered in last year’s study was that 13% of the respondents used their mobile phones to make holiday purchases while 18% used them for comparison shopping. While mobile shopping has not hit the mainstream yet, it’s certainly emerging as an increasingly effective way for you to engage with your customers. But beware: it’s no surprise you really have to think critically about the user experience on a mobile device since you’re working with such limited space. This is one area where personalization holds great promise, ensuring that what you show customers is actually going to be useful to their current needs and personal preferences.

If you’re interested in reading up on the findings from our survey from the last year’s holiday season, aptly titled the “Baynote Holiday Online Shopping Experience Survey,” you can download the full report here: http://www.baynote.com/resource/baynote-holiday-online-shopping-experience-survey/.