A Re-Introduction to E-Commerce Personalization
By Carl Bleich
Nov 03, 2021
13 min read
A Re-Introduction to E-Commerce Personalization
Table of Contents
If we’re being brutally honest, reading about e-commerce personalization has become a bit like getting those phone calls about your car’s extended warranty that you may or may not even have—you’re getting tired of it.
We’re tired of it too: the demands of personalization, its unfulfilled promise, its shifting definition. We’re tired of the term itself and the baggage that comes with it.
Seeking clarity on the internet is almost always no help. One day an article tries to convince you that personalization is dead and the next day the top story is one that leaves you feeling defeated because your company isn’t personalizing content like the world’s best. And that’s all next to paid ads, pop-ups, and emails screaming at you about reports, data, and customer opinions on the topic.
It can be overwhelming, to say the least. But Bloomreach is here to help.
E-Commerce Personalization is Everything
The reality is that in the world of e-commerce, personalization is everything.
It’s what engages your customers, inspires them, and keeps them coming back. And getting it right so you can drive brand loyalty doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems, so long as you get your order of operations down.
Starting with defining your “personalization purpose” will help guide your e-commerce personalization journey, align your commerce-driving team, and ensure there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
What’s our personalization purpose at Bloomreach? Simple. It's joy. Our goal is to help our customers bring elation to their customers through the Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud.
As you consider your company’s purpose, keep joy in mind. It’s easy to be distracted by the noise that surrounds personalization—both positive and negative. But if your company’s goal is to spread joyous experiences to your customers and delight them through positive experiences with your brand, consider adopting joy as your purpose as well.
The Definition of E-Commerce Personalization
When it comes to e-commerce, personalization is so much more than a Webster’s Dictionary definition, or even the various definitions you’ll find floating around the internet. In our world, personalization is quite literally the key that unlocks growth for your company and allows for easy optimization of the customer experience.
So, forget what you’ve heard and what you think you know about personalization in the e-commerce space thus far. Here’s a definition you can lean on and trust going forward.
Personalization in e-commerce is the practice of using commerce data responsibly to get to know, guide, and impress your customers with experiences that are so relevant and contextual, they feel like magic. It spans cross-channel, on-site, and in-app, resulting in measurable journeys that engage and lead customers through brand awareness to product discovery to repeat purchases.
At Bloomreach, we pride ourselves on making personalization simple and actionable for marketers, merchandisers, CRM managers, and other key stakeholders. We do this with the Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud, which features Engagement, Discovery, and Content solutions that provide growth fuel for digital commerce.
“Know Me, Guide Me, Wow Me”
Let’s dive a little deeper into the Bloomreach definition of e-commerce personalization, starting with our “know me, guide me, wow me” approach to escorting customers through the journey.
Getting to know your customers is the most basic first step of e-commerce personalization.
In today’s market, that means collecting commerce data (more on this term later) compliantly to develop this baseline understanding. Without data, you’re just guessing. What data points actually help you get to know customers? Website traffic, on-site interactions (page visits), interactions with email newsletters or other marketing emails, and many other key touchpoints that the customer has with your company.
Additionally, the “know me” concept must extend to all corners of your company. That means that the necessary data must not only be collected but shared across your entire technology stack for all key stakeholders to see and understand.
Much like a tour guide, it’s your company's job to use e-commerce personalization to guide customers to experiences with your brand that their data suggests they would enjoy.
If your collected customer data leads you to infer that a customer lives in a cold weather climate and has previously shopped for sweatshirts, use that data accordingly. It’s obviously best to showcase sweatshirts, hats, mittens, and other cold-weather apparel rather than sandals, sunglasses, and swimsuits in your product recommendations on your website.
The point of personalization is to build additional brand loyalty and help facilitate the customer journey. Your personalization efforts must have those two end goals in mind at all times.
Imagine walking into your favorite brick-and-mortar clothing store and watching the shelves rearrange until all of your wishlist items prominently were displayed in your exact size and preferred color.
Obviously, we can’t do this in a real-life physical space, but e-commerce personalization can achieve this in a digital one. And not only that, but if you know your customers and have guided them appropriately, that means you have the necessary background knowledge and can make predictions about other things they’re likely going to be interested in — shoes, jewelry, belts, scarves, etc. all in your customer’s preferred style and size. This is beyond “customers also bought”, this is true personalization, and the possibilities are nearly limitless.
The deep background knowledge of your customers and products allows you to present an experience to them that is exactly what they are looking for, sometimes without them even realizing it.
The Importance of Commerce Data
Let’s circle back to the concept of commerce data for a brief moment. While many of us aren’t mathematicians or big fans of equations, the simple equation below will help you understand what we mean when we discuss commerce data and why it’s so important to have in today’s market.
Customer data is of course the personal, behavioral, and demographic data collected by your company on those who shop with you and visit your e-shop. Product data is the information about a product that can be read, measured, and structured into a usable format.
Having access to either customer or product data is essential depending on the nature of your e-commerce business. Having access to both—or commerce data, as we call it—is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to using personalization to unlock commerce growth.
Why? Because the combination of commerce data and the right technology stack can help companies across the world answer those questions they have about increasing digital revenue and optimizing the customer experience.
Simply having product data isn’t enough in today’s market because you would be going in blind in your personalization attempts to individual customers. Basing personalization efforts off of inventory counts or sales numbers isn’t the right type of data-driven personalization.
Only having customer data still leaves the major gap of connecting customers to your business and products. Knowing a shopper’s preference on t-shirt type or size is worthless if you can’t connect that shopper to that specific type of t-shirt on the corresponding category page.
Personalization has changed e-commerce — companies can now provide a granular, nearly individualized service to customers on a consistent basis. Having commerce data is step number one in upgrading your e-commerce personalization efforts and ensuring your company can offer these experiences.
Bloomreach Leads the Way with E-Commerce Personalization
If you are interested in learning more about e-commerce personalization, look no further. Bloomreach has compiled the Definitive Guide to E-Commerce Personalization that goes in-depth on why your commerce-driving team needs to be aligned behind unified principles of working together to provide a connected customer experience. Don’t miss it.
Bloomreach offers the technology to businesses across the world to not only support personalization efforts, but to ensure that your company has the capability of offering a connected customer experience thanks to e-commerce personalization.
Bloomreach powers over $300 billion in commerce annually and serves over 850 customers in a wide variety of industries with our Commerce Experience Cloud. If your company is ready to take the next step and ensure that customers no longer slip between the cracks because of a disjointed experience with your brand, schedule a personalized demo today to see what Bloomreach can do for you.