User Experience Design 8 min read
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Improving the Ecommerce User Experience With Personalization
- 10 Mar 2023 6 min read
Did you know that, through ecommerce personalization, you can actually guide your customers over to specific products?
That’s what is otherwise known as ecommerce personalization. By adding this option to your ecommerce platform, you can make every customer feel like you pay attention to their wants and needs.
If you look at Facebook, your feed is filled with things that might interest you. That’s Facebook’s personalization algorithm at work. Your feed might show plenty of posts from a select group of your friends, or it can even be filled with posts from pages or groups that you actively follow.
Many other websites do the same thing; not just social media. News sites also feature personalized viewing to lead readers to select news articles, feeding topics that they normally read about.
This manner of serving content and products to audiences keeps users on websites longer and eventually consider transacting with you. Whether to avail of a discount on a pair of leggings they’ve been looking at or subscribe to opinion editorials they’ve enjoyed reading, this bread-crumbing of preferred content helps lead them to a transaction.
While website visitors who choose to opt-out of personalization (due to data privacy concerns) do exist, this feature in ecommerce development is still preferred by businesses. If you’re aiming for quick and easy conversions, then personalization is a solution you can rely on.
Benefits of ecommerce personalization
Personalizing your users’ experience with your platform will bring about many changes. However, that’s not to say there will be many benefits along the way. Here are some of them.
1. Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
By personalizing your ecommerce experience, you will make your customers feel like they’re VIPs. They won’t have to browse through your catalog of products and instead will be able to select an item on the home page.
This keeps satisfaction levels up, since your platform is just too convenient to use. It also helps them stay on your platform longer, since the products shown to them are guaranteed to be related to their interests.
On that note, Adobe recently published a survey that said 67% of respondents want personalized offers based on their spending habits. That leads them to actually buy more than what they originally intended. You can continue to build your customer loyalty by sending them personalized newsletters and other loyalty programs, as well.
2. Boosting website conversions.
Because your platform supports a personalized experience, your users will be brought to pages that interest them. If they’re looking for dresses on Google and they hop over to your platform, you can use their purchase and search histories to guide them to a nice sundress. That’s personalization in action.
You can also guide your users to related products in the process. If we continue from the sundress example, your platform can recommend accessories that accentuate the dress. It would be pretty convenient to buy multiple products from the same store, so many users will opt to do so.
In fact, a London retailer reports an 8.6% increase in add-to-cart rate after its personalized recommendations advertised other products to customers.
3. Reaching more potential customers with targeted campaigns.
Reaching out to old customers with personalized content is easy. But what can you do to attract new ones?
The answer: take advantage of social media algorithms. These websites store email addresses and phone numbers to provide personalized experiences for their users (stored in what we call “cookies”). That also means that certain users will be led to your product if you choose to run an ad campaign.
Online advertising isn’t the same as traditional advertising. It is a tailor-made experience that is different for every user. The best part about it? Machine learning algorithms will advertise your platform to interested users based on their history. It’s way more efficient than creating advertisements that have to cater to everyone.
Examples of ecommerce personalization strategies
You also have to know how best to leverage AI to your advantage. After all, you are accessing your customers’ phone numbers and email addresses to help your platform. Using such personal information irresponsibly will lead to bad results.
Here are some of the best examples of customer personalization on ecommerce platforms:
1. Amazon’s product recommendations
Observe any high-profile ecommerce platform and you will immediately see products based on your search history. Amazon is no different. Its recommendation feature is based on several factors: past purchases, browsing history, etc. Amazon even chooses products that similar users have recently purchased.
That’s because Amazon, like other ecommerce sites, puts users in what are called “user profiles”. These profiles are used to determine what products are trending on certain profiles, and advertise them to all users within that profile.
Amazon’s recommendation feature also fluctuates and recommends different items per visit. It can also recommend different editions of books which you’ve previously bought to see if you’re still interested in newer versions.
2. Targeted email campaigns
Machine learning can enable you to send product recommendations based on your customers’ profile and behavior. Brands that use targeted email campaigns include Adidas, Sephora, and Asics. Let’s briefly go through each of them.
Adidas sends personalized emails based on gender. For example, their email campaigns highlight men’s shoes to their male customers and women’s shoes to female customers. That saves the customer time and lessens the content they have to browse through to look at products that interest them.
Sephora, on the other hand, takes it a step further. It uses its AI to address its users via their names. The AI also automatically tags users VIPs if they historically purchased more online. These VIPs are sent more targeted offers rather than the generic products offered to other users.
Asics takes a different approach. Instead of advertising new products to customers, it instead reminds users of products which at one point were in their carts. By doing so, it urges customers to return to the purchase and complete it. This saves your business from lost revenue.
There are many different approaches to personalized email campaigns. Find the approach that works best for your branding and work on that.
3. Personalized product pages or banners
Have you also noticed that whenever there is a sale or special banner, you are directed to products that might interest you? That’s also machine learning at work.
Many ecommerce platforms promote specific products based on their customers’ preferences. If there is a site-wide sale, for example, a user classed as a techie may see more computer-related products than users who prefer clothes, and vice versa. “Hot” products and those with the “lowest price” are also promoted depending on the customers’ preferences.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the technology of ecommerce personalization
It would be difficult (and expensive!) to hire a team of people to find out exactly what your users have been up to. That’s why companies employ artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning programs to do this task for them.
Gone are the days when AI was just a figment of your imagination (and of sci-fi flicks). Now, AI can be used as a tool to maximize ecommerce growth. AI technologies have been programmed to read and mine your customers’ data to allow personalized content. In ecommerce terms, your customers will be directed to items that might interest them and that they may purchase down the line.
AI technology is not just limited to mere item recommendations, either. Some companies use AI technology to set up chatbots that guide customers to pages that they’re looking for. These chatbots use similar machine learning algorithms that get your users’ profile and push them to certain products. And in terms of machine learning, you also have tools like Google Analytics which read tons of data and simplify it in the form of reports.
Challenges to eCommerce personalization
Admittedly, this all does sound too good to be true. AI and machine learning aren’t just simple tools that can make ecommerce a walk in the park. In fact, the biggest problem to personalized advertising is the users’ need for privacy. While it is true that consumers prefer shopping when they have personalized recommendations, there is still the issue of giving out personal information to complete strangers.
FURTHER READING: How to Protect Customer Data Privacy in Digital Marketing
And because they don’t know who exactly handles their data, they have a very valid fear of having their information used against them by unethical parties. After all, it is nigh impossible these days to go online without leaving some sort of trace. That is if more than 60% of Americans are to be believed.
It’s also relevant to consider when to draw the line when it comes to updating your customer data up-to-date. Machine learning algorithms can not only follow users based on their browsing history or recent purchases, but also key demographic points such as which city they live in or when they are going on holiday. If you were asked how you would feel about giving internet strangers such sensitive information, how would you react? Many would probably feel uncomfortable just thinking about it.
These fears may be unfounded as of yet, but it is still a possibility that they all wish would not be a problem. Companies and governments should be aware of the very thin line between personalization and breaches to privacy. Some users would even consider personalized content borderline “stalking” and would either opt out of them or regularly clear their browser’s cookie history.
At the end of the day, only you can decide whether or not to personalize your user experience. It is indeed risky business, but it can be good for you if you build your customers’ trust enough. Before you leave, here are some takeaways regarding personalized ecommerce content:
- Ensure your users’ privacy by building a history of trust and goodwill. Sharing data online may be a turn-off for some people, so make sure to protect their data and keep it that way.
- Explore personalization options. Personalized content can take many forms, be it targeted emails or promoting select products on your home page.
- Reach potential customers through personalized content. This option may cost a pretty penny, but will be worth it since you can get new users who will take action and purchase from your platform.
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