We have a whole world of information and options available at our fingertips these days. So, naturally, only the best online shopping experiences are going to grab our attention and keep it.
In this article we’re talking e-commerce personalisation, because the best shopping experiences are the personalised ones. The ones that make our lives easier with solutions and content that are both relevant and tailored to us. Amazon are undoubtedly one if not the market leader on this front. The experience from start to finish is personalised to the user every step of the way, making for a seamless purchase experience every time
But don’t take our word for it. The stats show that shoppers are almost 50% more likely to make a purchase if their shopping experience is personalised. Gone are the days of advertising telling customers what they should buy from and where. These days, users’ purchasing behaviour is complex and often entirely unique to each individual. It’s this that is driving the demand for e-commerce personalisation solutions that stand out from the masses of available options.
“My expectation for what I see on billboards are not super high but when my phone vibrates and I see a message, it better be delivering value to me, or else it’s actively destroying the relationship that I have with the brand. The emphasis should be on creating a long-term relationship where there is mutual value through the conversation.” – Bill Magnuson, CEO & co-founder at Appboy.
Haven’t created a personalised e-commerce experience for your users yet? Then you are arguably neglecting one of the overiding expectations of today’s consumers: relevance. Thankfully, there are various ways that you can deliver on this, which we examine further in this blog post.
It’s key to consider the sheer volume of options consumers have when in the market for a product or service. They can afford to pick and choose like never before, so personalising their experience is one of the main ways you can add meaningful value to their experience. Users expect to be treated as individuals, not to be spammed with content that is irrelevant to them. A remarkable 74% of consumers get frustrated when they are faced with content that means nothing to them. It makes sense really, doesn’t it?
Personalised e-commerce experiences make life easier for all of us. Take product recommendations for example. They save us having to search back through a site to pick up where we left off if we didn’t make a purchase the first time.
The best e-commerce sites out there have personalisation deeply ingrained in their user experience, not just Amazon but a whole host of successful, customer-centric businesses.
Now that you know why users want personalisation, you need to know how to achieve it.
The most surefire way to achieve finely-tuned personalisation is by utilising site visitor’s data. User data is a goldmine of information to access and utilise. Why? Because it will allow you to contextualise the experience that users have on your site.
The top way to achieve personalisation is of course by product recommendations. Monitor user’s search queries and, over time, you can suggest similar or associated products to them as they browse. This not only personalises and makes relevant what they see on the screen but it’s also an excellent way to up-sell and cross-sell. A word of caution though: these recommendations must appear at correct stages in a customer’s journey. See more on this below.
Personalised email marketing is another key way to tailor your approach. If a user who’s on your mailing list abandons their cart, don’t send the the same marketing email as everyone else. This might push them further away depending on why they didn’t head to the checkout in the first place. Instead, entice them back in with an email whose subject lines says: “Here’s what you missed” or “Don’t forget about this”. Then, include the items they left in their cart together with a discount voucher for a first-time purchase, or other such incentives for a returning customer.
Human psychology also plays a very important role. While retailers have been utilising psychology in their strategies for years, there is a huge gap between in-store shopping and e-commerce in this area.
A recent study found that messages that promoted scarcity, urgency or social proof (i.e. items trending on social media) were all proven to increase sales. These all address aspects of our basic human nature. That is, to get something before it goes, to complete something before it’s too late and to climb higher in social rankings. Addressing users by their name also comes into this, whether it be in onsite messages or in emails. Being on first-name terms with someone even in real life is an act of friendliness, and this extends into the realms of e-commerce personalisation.
Now here comes the catch: users do not exhibit the same behaviours on desktop as they do on mobile devices. Does this mean you have to overhaul your strategy for mobile? Not quite.
By ensuring that your site is highly optimised for mobile users, you’ve crossed the first and arguably most important hurdle. This is because a truly personalised experience is one that flows seamlessly from desktop or laptop to mobile or tablet.
Keep showing users product recommendations on mobile but make sure that product pages are perfectly accessible and viewable on a mobile screen. In other words, mobile optimisation is, as always, crucial! If a user is logged in on the desktop version, they’ll want to be logged in when they leave their computer and continue browsing on their mobile during their lunch break, so make sure any cart contents are still there, too.
This complete mobile optimisation is an integral function of our bluCommerce platform to give users that ever more important omnichannel experience.
We mentioned product recommendations a bit earlier on and how they make up a huge part of e-commerce personalisation, but you must them properly.
While recommendations are proven to have a direct influence on CTR and revenue, they will only do so if used at the right time and in the right place.
Imagine you’ve just landed on a site for the first time and first messages you see “We recommend this for you” or “Other customers loved these, too!”, you’d pretty quickly realise that the site just showed the same messages to all its visitors, don’t you think?
So, showing product recommendations of any description must follow the flow of the customer journey, meaning they will necessarily change and develop over time for returning users and customers alike. By offering an increasing level of personalisation in this way you’ll improve the user’s journey whilst encouraging them to click further through your site and promote purchasing behaviour. More on this in the next section.
In terms of which type of product recommendations to use, there are many to choose from. Your choice will largely depend on the customer’s demographics and their other unique attributes. However a recent study found that recommendations like “visitors who viewed this product also viewed” prove the most successful by far, generating the greatest amount of revenue.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to e-commerce personalisation. Now that of course seems oxymoronic, but what we mean is even personalisation can be, well, personalised.
New user arriving on the site? Then show your new season arrivals or bestsellers.
Returning customers? Maybe occasional cart-abandoners? Keep them logged in when they bounce off your sit. Then, when they come back, present the items they last viewed on the landing page.
Email campaign click-through-ers? Set a countdown timer for offers they clicked on in your emails to create that important sense of urgency. Show them how many other shoppers have viewed the item in the past 24 hours or how many items are left in stock (particularly if it’s not many!).
Check out this super clear and informative blog post for a long list of in-depth ways to personalise every single step of the buying cycle.
Product recommendations are one of the most important aspects of e-commerce personalisation. It’s why our bluCommerce platform is integrated with various onsite recommendation systems such as Nosto and Episerver.
Nosto offers a huge degree of personalisation and is a very easy way to give shoppers a fully personalised shopping experience. After integrating Nosto into our platform we saw some noticeably positive results with a number of our clients. It also enabled us to identify areas to improve conversion. In fact, customers who clicked on Nosto recommendations are a remarkable 120% more likely to convert.
Episerver is another of our technology partners who offer a whole suite of personalisation options. These include behavioural triggers, email recommendations and smart content personalisation, i.e. landing pages and content listings tailored to site visitors. Studies across the board show that these last two aspects increase conversion rate and customer satisfaction by customising shopper’s experience right down to their location at the time of landing on your website.
The main takeaway from this article is that e-commerce personalisation is no longer an option. Nor is it just a trend anymore. It’s here to stay. The importance of personalising user experience is not to be overlooked. By doing so you ultimately risk falling behind your competitors who do focus on personalisation and see their ROI grow as a result.
Shoppers seek unique experiences that are relevant and meaningful to them, the more the better.
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