For today's generation of web savvy consumers, having to laboriously click through multiple web pages or sift through numerous poor on-site search results to find the products they want is just not good enough, according to Katharine Hulls, vice president of marketing for Celebrus Technologies, who here explains how personalisation can enhance the customer experience both on the website and in other digital channels by providing a tailored experience to increase conversion rates and improve customer engagement.
Customers increasingly want, and even expect, fast access to highly personalised content that not only reflects their preferences and interests, but also tempts them into exploring relevant new products and categories that will be of potential value to them - and that means a thoroughly and intelligently personalised approach is needed.
But what does this level of web site personalisation entail? The options are extensive, and should be appropriate for both the customer and the brand's personality. A few of multiple choices include simple personalisation such as displaying a customer's name within a welcome message; indicating the nearest physical store based on the customer's location; displaying previously browsed products and categories; or showing relevant cross-sell suggestions based on the customer's purchase history or sophisticated product affinity analytics.
Tailoring website content on a one-to-one basis in real-time in this way ensures the shopping experience is optimised for each individual customer, similar to the very personable, somewhat "old-fashioned" experience of visiting a local store where they know their all customers' favourite products, sizes, colours etc.
Yet despite the clear benefits to customers and brands alike of website personalisation, a study of Top 120 UK Retailers by web sales revenue (sourced from Internet Retailer) revealed that only 22.5% to have any form of personalisation. In fact only 13 websites provide browsed goods recognition for returning visitors, which is viewed as a pretty basic personalisation technique.
And the situation is even worse on mobile. Mobile optimised websites can offer the same personalised web service as desktop platforms. This ensures an individually tailored browsing experience wherever the user is located; creating a constantly open channel of interaction between the user and the website, which in turn fosters reliability and trust. Despite this, our research again revealed a minority are taking advantage of personalisation, with only 6.7% of mobile sites of the top etailers using any type of personalisation. With the growth of mobile commerce and the increasing pressure for omni-channel marketing, most retailers really are missing a trick.
The change in consumer behaviour and the tendency to now engage with favourite brands not just across a wide array of channels, but also via a variety of devices, from PCs and laptops, to tablets and smartphones, also means brands need to be able to join up individuals' behaviours across these multiple touchpoints in order to personalise the customer experience to best effect and avoid making any faux pas. The ability to stitch together these multiple instances of customer interaction enables a retailer to not just gain a far better understanding of changing customer behaviour through deep customer analytics, but also to personalise the experience for each individual so it reflects that customer's preferences and takes into account the current device and channel being used.
"Moving forward, it is likely that real-time website personalisation will soon become a necessity rather than the source of competitive advantage it is for etailers today. Beyond that, true one-to-one data-driven omni-channel personalisation will not be far behind, especially with the data and technologies available today to help etailers deliver truly sophisticated and effective personalisation programmes. Let's hope that none get left behind," concluded Hulls.