If you really knew me, you would know that I have never spent more than $200 on a pair of shoes, and that I would never buy athletic shoes online. Does any web site know me that well? I doubt it, but they are trying. When a salesperson or website provides me with recommendations that are completely off-base, I have one of two reactions: either they don’t care enough about me to do a good job or, they really don’t make personalization a priority. If it’s the former, I am less likely to make a return visit much less a purchase. If it’s the latter, you can bet I am going to clear my cookies frequently so that I am not barraged with irrelevant content. In either case, the experience feels like being introduced to someone for the 15th time and hearing them say “Nice to meet you” as if we had never met. Yuck.
This is why ecommerce personalization, in context is so important. Believe it or not, we have personal relationships with things like our iPhones, Androids, iPods, apps and web sites. We expect somehow, to be treated in a way that creates a level of trust. When building a long term relationship with online shoppers, trust is created and managed by the responsible collection and use of personal information. But it can be destroyed quickly when this personal information is used or exposed in inappropriate ways. And when personalization goes wrong, shoppers know it.
Whether you are an ecommerce retailer or a shopper, try this the next time you shop on line or open a special offer email from a vendor. Say to yourself, “If they really knew me….” and check the response to gauge how well that interaction answered the question. Then you will start to see the retailers who know what personalization is all about, and those that don’t.