Why Personalisation is the Future of eCommerce

Jan 17, 2016
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Amazon and eBay have been leading the way in e-commerce for many years. Many will attribute their success to offering the consumer simplicity with their one-click ordering process. However, the reality is there is a whole heap of incredible work that goes on underneath the hood to ensure sales are steadily increasing.

Dato_Recommender_eCommerceAlthough, the decisions that online shoppers make often seem focused and unprompted, the reality is that we are often given a gentle nudge in the right direction without even realising it. Machine learning acts like a virtual butler of sorts who ensures that the customers’ needs are always met without you ever noticing they are in the room.

With the right tools in place, business owners can understand how many times someone has visited their online store and how long they have spent looking at individual items. Having an immediate understanding of exactly how many products customers are looking at to build a unique profile of each and every single one of their clients is becoming paramount to those frequenting the waters of eCommerce.

This incredible wealth of shopper metrics and data can be untangled thanks to machine learning algorithms that will then decipher large complex amounts of data in real-time helping create personalized experiences that help businesses provide a higher level of service for customers.

Data about products, their reviews, search trends, and user behavior is classified and processed through recommendation engines to offer a unique and personalised shopping experience for every customer in seconds.

Forget buzzwords such as big data, it’s personalisation and building of relationships that are the secret to the success of household names such as Amazon, Google or eBay. Understanding every unique customer will harness a previously hidden power to increase repeat purchases, revenue and even brand loyalty.

These early adopters disrupted their industries by investing heavily in machine learning to process data quickly, gain insights, and provide more intuitive experiences.However, what was previously a differentiator is now table stakes for online businesses if they genuinely expect to both meet and exceed their customer’s expectations.The good news is that machine learning is now more accessible than ever.

Even those who are wary of this latest trend of computers knowing everything about you in a digital dystopia of sorts have been known to admit reluctantly they miss the personalised aspect when visiting other sites. The reality is often quite the opposite of the familiar big brother style horror stories. Machine learning actually takes cold words such as big data and turns them into real relationships between customers and businesses.

When shopping online, we no longer tolerate being treated like just another number after acquiring a taste of the ultimate personalised shopping experience.  When personalization is taken for granted, it quickly becomes noticeable when returning to stores where this welcoming feature is absent. Ironically, it’s the online stores that intrusively bombard you with items of little interest because of their lack of knowledge that now feel out of touch or annoying.

As our attention spans continue to dwindle, online businesses need to capture our imagination and desires sooner rather than later. Businesses quickly realise that having the ability to provide us with what we want and exactly when we want it to satisfy our desire for instant gratification is the key to success. Failure to comply could be the difference of “buying it now” or the dreaded closing of a tab on an internet browser.

Amazon already knows what we want to purchase, LinkedIn knows what articles we would make for an interesting read, and Netflix has a knack of knowing what films or TV series we enjoy before we even do sometimes.  We are now fully subscribed to the world of personalisation in this digital age and even those that have their reservations can be forgiven for missing unseen service when it’s not there.

Increasingly retailers are looking at their current data wondering why some customers have not purchased anything from their online store in 12 months. Only need to look at the business models of competitors who are ultimately preventing them from going anywhere else because of their old fashioned good service.

We as users are often quite lazy by default and if you can let us purchase what we want within 3 clicks and minimum fuss, then we will hit the checkout straight away. We now read our order confirmation emails with a slightly smug smile after the realisation we didn’t have to travel to the mall and navigate around elevators, lifts, poor lighting, screaming babies or queueing at tills.

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This is the brave new world for online citizens in a digital age, the only question that remains is how many online businesses are ready for these 21st-century demands where personalisation holds the keys to a unique customer journey and the success for anyone working in eCommerce.

Humans are social creatures and have an insatiable desire to connect with each other. Despite advances in technology, we look back fondly on days where the friendly bartender or server remembered our favorite drink, had your table ready, or even knew what specials to recommend. Maybe this modern life lesson is illustrated in the chorus of an 80’s sitcom Cheers theme tune “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.”

We all yearn to genuinely connect with each other and be treated as the unique individual that we are, whether that be online or offline. The finger of blame is often pointed in the direction of technology for dehumanising us all with a world of automation. Ironically, machine learning is actually helping create personalized experiences that help businesses provide a higher level of service for customers.

Each and every single one of your customers are unique, but have the same expectations of service. The only question that remains is, are you ready to meaningfully connect with your audience?

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