How Personalization as a Service is Changing E-Commerce


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It’s well known that Amazon has worn the crown of the e-commerce kingdom for a long time, but have you ever wondered what “secret strategy” the company might have employed to earn it? Though many factors have contributed to Amazon’s success, one of the most compelling is the sophisticated personalization they offer to customers.

Consumers love it when websites simply seem to “get” them. They discover products they may never have heard of before or thought about, complete their shopping more efficiently, and tend to return to the e-commerce retailers that make such experiences possible.

Although these practices may seem like a kind of magic, they represent a growing (and crucial) trend in e-commerce known as “personalization as a service.”

What is personalization as a service?

Many retailers understand personalization in its “Gen 1” context, wherein websites recommend products a visitor “may also like” based on what they’re currently viewing. These messages utilize cookies to associate products with one another, but don’t really take into account the individual consumer.

The new personalization as a service adopts a more holistic approach. It incorporates data from multiple types of visitor interactions, from reading emails to visiting brick-and-mortar stores to visiting your mobile site.

Every aspect of the user experience becomes tailored to the tastes, tendencies, and behaviors of each person.

Although the concept of personalization of service remains fairly new in the e-commerce arena, authorities in the field have been talking about it for quite some time. For instance, in 2012 DJ Capobianco of Crimson Hexagon attributed the triumph of Google Chrome over Internet Explorer to “personalization.”

The benefits of personalization as a service in e-commerce

E-commerce companies that have already begun to implement more complex personalization as a service enjoy substantial benefits over their competitors. This occurs for several reasons, including the following:

1. It leverages cross-device communications. Individuals who use multiple computing devices now send more information than ever over these platforms. Utilizing personalization as a service to reach audiences on any device creates multiple touch points and a more seamless experience.

2. It makes customers feel like more than numbers. As more businesses have gone virtual, customers have often lost the benefit of direct interaction and found marketing efforts directed toward them impersonal. Increasingly organic-feeling personalization strategies show customers that a brand cares about their individual needs.

3. It increases conversion rates. Helping visitors remember products they previously viewed or purchased reminds them of your brand when they may become distracted by something else.

How to put personalization to work for your business

Setting in motion a personalization as a service strategy is one of the most effective ways to draw in more visitors, enhance their experience, and encourage them to become loyal customers. To begin tailoring user experiences to their preferences, consider taking such steps as:

1. Examining customer data your company is currently collecting. Check email logs, customer reviews, surveys, call center notes, and any other metrics you’ve gathered regarding your customers. This information provides valuable insight regarding your audience’s needs and tendencies.

2. Allow data to inform ongoing personalization efforts. Too often, businesses over-collect data but under-utilize it. Whether you enlist the help of an in-house team or hire a third-party vendor, make sure you have the right people in place to plan and implement a personalization as a service strategy.

3. Incorporate personalization campaigns across multiple platforms. By harnessing the power of analytics, brands can now reach customers with personalized recommendations and content wherever they go. A GPS-enabled mobile app communicates sales and sends coupons when consumers shop in retail stores. Web retargeting ads remind them of products they previously viewed whenever they visit partner sites.

Like personalization as a service itself, implementation strategies look different for each business. By better understanding your customers’ needs, wants, and behaviors, you will be well on your way to meeting their evolving demands.

What steps has your brand taken to implement personalization as a service?

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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