Top tech trends in commerce personalization

You might be aware that commerce personalization is among the top tech trends, let’s dive on what innovations can serve your business better.

Fidel Chaves
11 min read

How to boost sales with commerce personalization

We recently discussed Shopify, Magento, and Drupal Commerce, three alternatives when building your commerce site, but today we are here to discuss the top tech trends in commerce personalization. Just to be clear, personalization and customization are not the same thing. The former is about the store providing a unique experience for each user; the latter has to do with adjusting the design of a product according to the customer's specifications.

 

The biggest challenge for stores, online or offline, is how to improve the user shopping experience. This is as true today as it was a hundred years ago. The thing is: the world changed. Optimal personalization leads the way straight to better conversion.

 

“An eCommerce personalization can mean a sales increase of up to 15%,” indicates McKinsey & Company, a global consulting company trusted by big enterprises, governments, and institutions. This data was provided amid an online shopping spree triggered by the turbulence experienced in 2020. It looks like people trapped in their homes resort to online shopping for instant gratification. Who would have thought?

 

Commerce personalization entails improving the digital environment each user navigates through, adapting it with information targeted to their tastes and needs. In summary, it means understanding each customer's behavior to bring them real-time solutions and, that way, improving their shopping experience. I’ve talked about user experience a while back if you are into it.

 

In the digital environment, this serves the same purpose as a salesperson at a physical store. Besides resulting directly in a sales increase, it also brings about a high impact on customer loyalty. The global giant Amazon already estimates that 35% of their sales come from their meticulous personalization strategy. That is why learning how to personalize your commerce store is so important.

How to personalize your commerce store

For most companies selling online, personalizing their store for each user that enters the site is the biggest challenge. Imagine a physical store changing for a specific client—that’s science fiction for us but common for online stores. Each customer has a different behavior based on taste, habits, and needs. Providing a personalized experience will impact how users perceive the store boosting conversion and promoting future visits.

 

That is why we often talk about design in the service of communication. There are different tactics to consider when it comes to commerce personalization. It might be a different palette, a specific layout, or a particular order. The mind works in mysterious ways, but here are some suggestions worth considering:

#1 Personalize content

Every piece of content should be aimed at that specific user or profile. That decision-making process certainly needs to involve the user's place of origin. First of all, use localization in order to offer customers one-off deals or improved shipping times; you can even show a specific item list according to the visitor’s location. The online store also needs to be adapted based on each user's IP address to adjust to their native language.

#2 Special attention to new visitors

Statistics show that 80% of users that enter an online store for the first time make a purchase because they are offered a welcome discount or a sales opportunity. This conversion has a larger implication since the client will register to the store: the personalization strategy will roll out from there.

#3 Show previously visited pages

One of your goals should be to save time for users who abandoned a shopping journey once they return to the site. Your platform can keep track of the pages the user has visited but did not end in a purchase so when they log back in, they are automatically directed to the last page visited, and their shopping cart is restored.

#4 Retargeting strategy

Retargeting is a digital marketing technique to target with advertising those users who have visited a site and abandoned it without making a purchase. Retargeting works by making use of cookies that are stored in the visitor's browser. Those cookies carry unique information and enable finding the user during future web navigation.

#5 Optimizing recommendations

Offering the right product at the right time will imply a higher conversion rate—one of the most common tactics while also one of the most flawed. If shopping recommendations are based on previously purchased or shown articles, sales are likely to increase. In this department, Amazon is the unrivaled king. But beware, many consumers are now demanding more and more privacy; tracking information can then be the wrong move. Not everyone wants to be told what to buy by their algorithm overlords.

#6 Differential email campaigns

It is also important to deliver differential and personalized content through email campaigns, either for new products or for discounts and deals. Each delivery should include a message addressed to the customer —with their name specified— and be based on previous shopping experiences to renew their shopping interest. This practice is adopted by a few brands and offers good results when personalizing and using an original subject line. As always, take this with a pinch of salt: spamming is not a good marketing strategy.

 

Keep in mind that these are thought to benefit your customer’s experience. That is why you should always respect privacy and offer reliable and secure service with a clear option to opt out. Using deceptive practices may serve you in the short term, but you will never win in the long run.

A modern example: Google's project to make YouTube a commerce platform

We’ve discussed the importance of a personalized store, but what is more personal today than the content we consume? That’s why the power provided by YouTube may be essential in the future of online stores. As TV shopping and other new technologies emerge, being at the forefront of innovation has never been so important for your commerce endeavors. Can your store keep up with the pace?

 

Commerce in the United States is increasing at a pace not seen in two decades, and the volume of online sales is growing enormously. Such a transformation process urges thousands of stores, big and small, to offer better digital experiences to customers. Meanwhile, the business giants are not letting up, and monopolies grow bigger and stronger.

 

Google, for instance, is trying out a function to turn YouTube into a shopping site, where the content will become a catalog of items available to users. Bloomberg has since then revealed that Google has started working on the YouTube software so that users can purchase items featured on the videos. Now you’ll be able to consume your favorite influencers with 20% more influence over you!

 

YouTube already offers a key value in the customer journey for a great number of users: statistics show that more than half of consumers use the videos on the platform to make shopping decisions. That’s how I do it, at least. The last time I wanted to buy a phone, I spent at least three whole weeks watching reviews and comparison videos. However, for the time being, consumers still need to visit an external site to make an online purchase; this could soon change through Google's initiative. Any similarity with Farenheit is not intentional.

Shopify's eCommerce as a backup

Google's ambitious project is presented as a collaboration with Shopify, one of the commerce platforms we discussed before. Shopify could play a key part in developing the offer for YouTube's Commerce. It could work as the basis of this new potential colossus.

 

The Internet titan already has Google Shopping, its first bet on digital commerce functionality. This platform allows online vendors to create ad campaigns with information from their products to be shared all across Google's network, so they can show it in real-time to shoppers as they search on Google. You thought Google was making enough with ads? Well, think again. This tool has already had several updates to boost its usefulness—but it is limited compared to the content brought by YouTube to its users.

 

The most widely known video platform on the planet has already requested content creators to tag the items featured on their clips to link that data to Google's shopping and analytics tools. I always had a hunch that the Internet of Things could be dedicated to consumerism, but not this quick. These changes will strengthen the social commerce trend that, for instance, Facebook has implemented on Instagram.

Top tech trends in commerce personalization

To wrap it up, I’ll review the top tech trends in commerce personalization. These products come from research and digging, but I do not fancy playing the futurologist, so feel free to challenge my research and compare it to your data. If I made any mistakes, do let me know; I’m always eager to correct myself.

 

The first step in my research was a video by Amelia Labovitch (listed below); from there on, I just followed the rabbit hole. Let’s see what I ended up with. Top tech trends in commerce personalization:

1. Online and offline channels integration

In the future, you should expect a seamless transition from channel to channel, integration of data, personalized experience, which might lead to the appearance of offline commerce stores, pop up and multichannel shops. Stores will probably go with an omnichannel approach, using product and customer data to improve the user experience.

2. Personalized push notifications, email, and messages

It’s not surprising that stores and shops want to sell you tailor-made products, and tailor-made ads are a way of showing that. With the growing online market of new customers, there are new competitors, and it gets more aggressive than ever; notifications might be the strategy to stand out.

3. Real-time individualized recommendations

You’ve probably seen this in the Netflix catalog, and oh my, they sure know how to do it! That’s all thanks to what some call Artificial Intelligence. We prefer the term Machine Learning.

4. Direct to consumer method and private label luxury brands

With new shipping methods and the ability to contact your favorite business online, people are expected to skip the middlemen and redistributors.

5. Smart home assistants

We’ve seen the trend around Alexa, Google Home, and other so-called smart home assistants. With better voice recognition, you could expect smooth navigation through an interactive site and even some things out of science fiction literature as shoppable TV.

6. Recommerce

Recommerce stands for second-hand commerce. This kind of practice is expected to rise and develop in the next few years as sustainability becomes more important to customers worldwide.

7. Customer fulfillment

Fulfillment has always been important to customers, but online shopping always proved tricky in this area as they could not try, test, and feel the item they were buying beforehand. That is why fulfillment-centered selling could be the norm in the future, with the addition of free shipping and eco-friendly products providing a better alignment of expectation and experience.

8. Mobile-first, simple shopping, p2p, and renting

I’ve talked before about the mobile-first trend in development, and it is no surprise as the number of people with access to mobile technology keeps increasing. With this increase, relegated segments of the population will access the commerce world, maybe providing alternatives to traditional buying like peer-to-peer (p2p), selling (like eBay), and renting.

9. Augmented reality and item customization

Even today, there is a growing demand for customization and unique items from consumers. It’s all good about mass production, but customers want their products one-of-a-kind. That is why, with the development of technologies such as 3D printers, I expect to see more and more customization with accessible prices. However, for this to actually work, there is a need for a better showcase, something that can be solved with augmented reality.

10. Client retention

It is not a secret that the internet is getting more and more competitive. More customers, more stores, more competition—as simple as that. That is why over the years, the cost to acquire customers goes up, why client retention might be the key to saving money and energy. Today more than ever, a great user experience and customer satisfaction are needed.

 

At Awkbit, we know the importance of online commerce. That's why we dropped the e-, as it turned out to be the predominating way of buying for many. If you are a business owner,you already know that an online presence is a must, and this trend is not going away. Are you willing to grow your online presence? Is your store updated to keep pace with the evolution of commerce?

Reach Out!

Sources & further reading