Technology is transforming not only the retail landscape, but also consumers’ expectations. Now, knowing your customer is simply not enough. Customers today want to form a relationship with the retailers they engage with that goes beyond the transaction, both in-store and more importantly – online. As attention spans dwindle and customer choice increases, retailers of all shapes and sizes must be armed and ready to give each and every shopper a personalized experience – from the very first click onto their site – all the way to when the screen shows “order complete.”
As leading brands and retailers are challenged with turning casual browsers into their most loyal buyers, recent research affirms they’re increasingly pursuing e-commerce personalization initiatives as a primary strategy. In fact, it’s no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-to-win.
The 2019 Personalization Industry Survey captured insights from more than 150 marketing and digital commerce leaders to identify the key trends and challenges as brands increasingly evaluate and apply personalization technologies to their business. Here are a few insights the study uncovered:
Personalization is a Priority
No longer is providing a highly-personalized customer experience reserved for high-end retailers. But instead of providing a personal shopper and glass of champagne, the personalization is happening virtually. Consider that 94% of retail executives today agree that e-commerce personalization is a must for driving engagement among customers, as well as improving focus, productivity and business growth.
As a result, 63% of marketers affirmed that e-commerce personalization is a top priority within their retail technology initiatives. Followed in importance were the ability to effectively reach customers through multiple channels (47%), making strategic data-driven decisions through the use of analytics (45%) and improving overall data quality (40%).
If Personalization is Prevailing in 2019…What’s Next in 2020?
It’s clear that many retailers have employed – or at least understood – the basics to achieve early success with personalization. In 2020, then, retailers will begin to graduate from implementing basic levels of personalization to a more nuanced and advanced level of connecting with shoppers.
While product recommendations currently lead the pack in what’s already being used, 55% of e-commerce retailers surveyed also said they are focusing their investments in the next 12 to 18 months on enhancing these existing suggestions. By improving back-end technology, the savviest retailers will be able to transform their websites from mere virtual storefronts into personal shoppers ready to convert clicks into conversions.
Moving beyond the personalization of product recommendations, the study found that the next three most important areas of technology investment in the next year to year-and-a-half will be personalizing product search (50%), content personalization of web and email (39%), and category or landing pages (37%).
As we head toward 2020, adoption of personalization will only continue to grow – all while becoming more sophisticated. We can expect to see retailers connect the buyer journey through product search, recommendations, email, content personalization and pages.
The Bottom Line
True real-time, 1:1 personalization remains an elusive – yet rewarding – target for most retailers. As the competition to gain market share continues heating up, it’s becoming increasingly important for retailers to up the ante with their personalization strategies to not only survive – but thrive – in today’s retail landscape.
-Amede Hungerford, Chief Marketing Officer, Reflektion