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What retailers need to know about eCommerce personalisation

(Image credit: Image Credit: Snowing / Freepik)

While retailers and brands have understood the importance of personalisation for many years, a significant majority are still struggling to work out exactly how to effectively implement personalisation within their ecommerce approaches.

In a world where Amazon is dominating with hyper-personalisation, we see many online retailers still taking a basic, “one-size-fits-all” approach to their eCommerce strategy. While some major retailers display products for customers based on their browser history and previous purchases, others lose out on the chance to showcase products and services based on their customers’ preferences and intent.

To understand where these retailers have gone wrong, and where you can go right, it’s worth recapping on what personalisation is, what it can be, and how it benefits your business. With this in mind, here’s a look at everything you need to know to get eCommerce personalisation right.

What is eCommerce personalisation?

eCommerce personalisation is a set of practices through which an online shop displays dynamic content which is based on customer data.

This includes things like browsing history, previous purchases, preferences and device usage — whether the customer is using a laptop, mobile, tablet or smartwatch.

What are the benefits of eCommerce personalisation?

For most brands, the primary goal of eCommerce personalisation is to increase conversion rates on the brand’s website. What we mean by ‘conversion’ generally depends of the industry that your company is in. Some companies would consider a ‘conversion’ to be when a customer makes a purchase, while others would say it’s when they sign up for an account or make an appointment.

By ensuring that your website displays the content that their visitors are looking for, brands can build better experiences, encourage repeat purchases and improve conversion rates.

Another benefit is an increase in revenue per order. If you know what your customers want, then you can use your eCommerce CMS to up-sell or cross-sell to your customers. For example, this can be done by displaying complementary items next to the item they are purchasing.

What’s more, a personalised experience leads to a much better overall customer experience — leading to higher satisfaction and long-term loyalty towards the brand.

Areas of eCommerce to personalise

Without the right technology, marketers have had to settle for a very basic level of personalisation, such as using the customer’s name in an email campaign.

But advancements in technology have meant that customers now expect a lot more when it comes to their online shopping experiences — and marketers must ensure that they take advantage of eCommerce personalisation to deliver the right content to the right customers.

For example, an eCommerce website can provide localised content whereby customers are delivered to the site that matches their region. In the most basic cases, this can simply involve moving customers to a site translated into their language. But, in more advanced cases, it can mean making subtle edits to a site’s layout and messaging, designed to appeal to cultural variations, local preferences and personal tastes.

How a Content Management System can help

While eCommerce platforms are great for managing commerce, where they fall short is content management and personalisation. Of course, exemplary platforms exist. But they’re often (understandably) more focused on product catalogues and streamlining the checkout process.

However, with an eCommerce CMS, brands can either leverage the system’s innate eCommerce features, or integrate the CMS with existing eCommerce software. The latter will give you the best of both worlds by enabling retailers to take advantage of the two technologies simultaneously.

The best CMS platforms will enable you to define audiences and customer segments, personalise your content based on both implicit and explicit customer data, and test your personalised content. Not to mention fully individualise the customer experience based on user journey tracking.

Can a headless CMS can improve omnichannel personalisation?

A headless CMS delivers content to any channel or any device — without any limits. In an e-Commerce environment, a headless CMS empowers marketers with the ability to share content and products to specific touchpoints, like kiosk screens or smart speakers.

These capabilities can be leveraged to create a seamless omnichannel personalisation strategy, which would include things like linking a customer’s online behaviour and history to your store — giving customers a personalised message through push notifications, or at the checkout. It will then link their offline purchase to their online account, helping to further personalise their experiences.

A headless CMS also enables brands to develop a completely unified customer data platform, bringing every single customer interaction together — from discovery, to purchase, through to loyalty. This means brands can offer individualised and continuous experiences, even if a customer changes from an online to an offline touchpoint — or vice-versa.

Ultimately, for brands to deliver a truly personalised customer experience, they must invest in the right eCommerce technology, that provides their customers with the products or services that are most relevant to them, and through their preferred channel. Brands that fail to do so, will lose out on long-term customer retention, loyalty, and ultimately, future ecommerce purchases.

Darren Hitchcock, General Manager, Magnolia