Today, most customers expect an experience tailored to their needs while shopping online, with 70 percent reporting being comfortable with online shopping personalization.
Personalized shopping experiences are customized interactions between online stores and shoppers. They can include tailored recommendations based on the customer’s past purchases, products curated to their interests, and personalized discounts. Online stores are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics to offer this personalized experience to customers.
Personalized online experiences can be a marker for unmatched growth for businesses. They offer customers more than just information about products. They provide an engaging experience that builds loyalty and goodwill. With personalization, businesses can create a strong emotional connection with their customers, making it more likely for them to make purchases. According to research, 80 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
These experiences can go a long way in making the customers feel valued. It also increases the efficiency of their experience. With a personalized shopping experience, customers can quickly find the items they are looking for, allowing them to spend more time exploring what else the business has to offer. A study notes that customers who were offered a personalized experience spent an average of 12.9 minutes on a website compared to 2.9 minutes by customers who were not offered the personalized experience.
Personalization and boundaries - Why respecting customer privacy is non-negotiable
While customers value personalized experiences, they also place much importance on privacy. According to a Pew Research study, 81 percent of customers say that the risks of data collection by companies outweigh any benefits. In another study, 30 percent of respondents said they worry about businesses accessing their information without knowing.
This is a dilemma for businesses. How can a company provide a personally tailored experience to its customers without having any information about them? On the one hand, customers want to protect their data privacy; on the other, they expect brands to show them product recommendations tailored to them.
This conundrum can be easily solved by simply respecting a customer’s privacy. Respecting customer privacy is non-negotiable because it is essential to maintaining trust between a business and its customers. By being transparent with customers and protecting their data, companies demonstrate a commitment to protecting the most important asset they have -- their customers.
When customers feel their personal information is protected, they are more likely to engage with a brand and remain loyal. Respecting customer privacy also helps brands comply with regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two of the most important data privacy laws in the world. They both set out strict rules about how companies must protect people's personal data.
Respect for customer privacy is also essential to providing customers with an optimal user experience. Brands can offer customers a personalized experience by studying consumer behavior, including many factors such as clicks, views, search history, and more. This data can be stored anonymously, meaning it is not directly tied to any individual’s identity. Compared to big data, this smaller data allows companies to be more accurate in their customizations by providing more meaningful insights and information.
So, what is the kind of data businesses should collect?
The following are examples of the data points companies can collect without invading their customers’ privacy.
- Behavior signals such as multiple clicks within product pages or multiple visits to a page.
- Amount of time spent browsing similar products.
- Active engagement on a website including scrolling, clicking and typing.
- Likes or follows on products and pages on social media.
- Product search history and keywords commonly used.
- Average cart value while shopping.
- Items added to a wish list.
- General geolocation-based data.
- Comments and product ratings left by the customer on products.
Getting personalization right for better shopping experiences
While many brands have useful information about their customers, they lack the insight required to implement personalization in an authentic and effective way. Using the data gathered around customers requires understanding their preferences and expectations. This will allow companies to tailor their offerings successfully.
Listed below are the different ways businesses can leverage customer insights to offer high-key personalization and create delightful shopping experiences.
- Product recommendations
Visiting an online store and being greeted by relevant products that are appealing is already impressive to customers. Not only that, but it also increases the likelihood that they will click on one of these products and consider purchasing it.
Product recommendations mirror a customer’s preferences by studying the products they usually buy or add to their cart. It could also be based on the product ads that customers tend to click on while scrolling through social media.
A helpful way to recommend products to customers is through up-selling and cross-selling. Think about the “Frequently Bought Together” section on Amazon or the “Customers Also Liked” section on other websites. These recommendations can also be made while customers are examining their shopping carts. Catching their attention before they check out and complete their purchase can give brands an important bump in sales.
To maximize a product’s recommendation, it should extend beyond the website and be available to customers on social media channels or email marketing. Offering tailored deals on these recommendations will maximize this personalization.
- Personalized communication
When communicating with customers, it is essential to use language they are familiar with. For this, the content that goes from a business to a customer must be localized and targeted.
This means the content should be personalized around the customer's general location, age group, demographics and interests. Companies can use this information to create templates for their target audience that can be easily deployed when needed.
Communication with the customers includes not just the store's website but anywhere the customer might encounter the company's products. Hence, it is also crucial that communication be consistent. So while some personalization is encouraged, brands should be careful not to stray too far from the brand's identity in order to appeal to different customers.
The different mediums brands can offer customers personalized communication include blogs, social media channels, product descriptions, online ads and banners, email marketing, etc.
- Personalized browsing and search experience
A highly effective personalization method includes customizing customer website browsing and search experience.
To do this, companies can study a customer’s browsing behavior, including which sections of the website they spend more time in, what content they engage with the most, and which areas of a website receives more clicks from them. By studying their patterns from their last visit to the website, the current page can be changed to be more appealing.
As a basic example, knowing that a customer spends more time browsing women’s clothing than men’s clothing or home decor items, the homepage of a website can be curated to display women’s clothing items for them the next time they visit.
When the pages are geared towards the customer’s personal preferences, they will spend less time looking for what they want and more time shopping. They are also less likely to click off the website.
Up to 30% of visitors rely on the search bar when navigating an online shop. The search results can be personalized with suggestions and product recommendations by analyzing the keywords a customer commonly uses. This will also make the customer’s shopping experience smoother, maximizing customer delight.
- Dynamic relevance and industry trends
Adding a personal touch to marketing efforts can tremendously affect a customer’s perception of the brand. For example, when a customer interacts with a company online, individualized responses can make the communication seem more personal and unique. This on-the-spot personalization adds dynamic relevance to a brand’s communication and can make it stand out.
It is also essential to stay relevant in terms of industry trends. Today, trends change at lightning speed, and a business’s content will need to change just as fast to keep up. Dynamic content that can be updated instantly across mediums and relevant to different types of customers will give brands a much-needed edge in a crowded online shopping space.
Consent and effective personalization go hand in hand
While concerns over data privacy are growing, online shops can still offer enjoyable and efficient personalized shopping experiences to their customers. Brands that respect their customers’ privacy while managing to delight them with personalization will not only gain customer trust but boost revenues and maximize their sales.
Keeping data privacy at the heart of a company’s personalization strategy is a win-win for everyone. While this can seem like a big ask, that is where Zevi comes in.
Zevi can help businesses build these personalized search experiences using powerful AI-driven search and discovery solutions. Zevi’s easy-to-integrate search engine helps businesses boost engagement and sales. To learn more about how Zevi works and how it can help your business grow, book your demo today.