Solving the Shopper’s Puzzle

Internet_Retailer_solving-the-shoppers-puzzleEffective personalization goes beyond the product page and builds on shoppers’ cues

Personalization is like a jigsaw puzzle: There are a lot of pieces, but when put together correctly, consumers see a shopping experience customized to their preferences and are led to products that, more often than not, they purchase.

“When retailers pay attention to shopper behavior on site and the language consumers use to search for products and then recommend the right product at the right time, the shopping experience is more relevant and engaging, which increases conversions, customer loyalty and order value,” says Marti Tedesco, senior marketing director for personalization software provider Baynote Inc.

While many retailers equate use of personalization strategies with customers they already know, personalization can be applied to first-time visitors. Baynote uses data culled from other first-time visitors viewing similar products and displaying similar behavior patterns on a retailer’s web site to make recommendations to previously unknown shoppers.

A first-time visitor, for example, can be shown the items within the category she’s browsing that other visitors coming to the
site for the time most frequently viewed or purchased. As the shopper moves around the retailer’s site, Baynote’s personalization engine collects behavioral data and site search terms, enabling the retailer to show her increasingly personalized products, offers and content. “Online shoppers expect retailers to learn about them and give them a personalized experience as if they were to talking to a sales representative in a store,” says Tedesco.

When putting their personalization strategy together, it is important for retailers to remember that the more they apply personalization to customer touch points, the more sales it generates. Some of the customer touch points retailers can personalize include e-mail, the checkout page and live chat sessions.

“Shoppers can be shown personalized offers at checkout, rewarding them with free shipping, a discount or a coupon for a future purchase if the order value exceeds a certain threshold,” explains Tedesco. “A live chat agent can call up a shopper’s profile to recommend accessories and a customer service representative can use that profile to recommend content to help the shopper resolve her problem. Recommended accessories can be added to a sales confirmation e-mail.”

Overall, retailers using Baynote’s personalization software have reported two to six-fold sales increases. Order values also rise substantially: 46% for apparel retailers; 41% for home and housewares retailers; 38% for toys and sporting goods retailers; 8% for health and beauty retailers; and 6% for other retailers.

As retailers build customer profiles, it is important they keep recommendations fresh for repeat customers. “Loyal shoppers want to see recommendations based on what they are looking for today on a retail site, not behavior from their last visit,” says Tedesco. “Fresh recommendations tell the shopper the retailer is staying on top of their preferences.”

With smartphone use exploding, a retailer’s ability to deliver customized offers and content to mobile shoppers is a key part of the personalization puzzle. “The best method for communicating personalized offers to smartphone users is via e-mail, since over 44% of all e-mails are now opened on their phones,” Tedesco adds.

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