pink flamingosA recent report on personalization from the e-Tailing Group had us scratching our heads. As described by Stefany Moore in Internet Retailer, the report reveals that 54% of online merchants rate their personalization strategy as ‘highly sophisticated’. The headline trumpets IR’s conclusion: Half of online retailers say they’ve got personalization down pat.

Wow. Maybe there’s not as much need for Baynote’s personalization solutions and services as we thought. Bummer for us.

But before we unplug the network and turn in our keys, let’s take a closer look. Later in the article, we get these revealing stats: “52% of respondents personalize their shopping cart pages, 44% personalize product pages, 41% home pages, 21% category pages and 17% search results.”

My math skills aren’t what they used to be, but something here doesn’t add up. More merchants define their personalization as highly sophisticated (54%) than apply personalization to their shopping carts (52%)?  Only 21% personalize their category pages and yet 2.5X that number count their strategies as highly sophisticated?

What’s going on here?

It appears respondents are rating their strategies based only on the personalization they’re doing now. They’re pretty happy in that regard – which is great – but they’re ignoring (or are unaware of) how much personalization they should be doing.

Customers don’t experience your shopping cart in isolation. So why should a personalization strategy start and stop there? Or be limited to email? Or your home page?

To be ‘highly sophisticated’ (and most effective), a personalization strategy must encompass a comprehensive ‘shopping experience strategy’. Personalization should start when a customer first visits (e.g., by adapting the landing page based on their search term) and continue through every touch point on their buying journey and beyond – home page, category pages, chat, product pages, search results, email, mobile and social.

At least that’s what we believe. So I guess we’ll keep the network plugged in and hang on to our keys. There’s a lot of work yet to be done. Let us know if we can help you.