Guide to eCommerce Personalization Software Development
eCommerce personalization is getting more like a background noise we all got used to. The Amazons of eCommerce and freshly baked retail startups all keep reinventing the concept, trying to find ways to be more relatable to the user.
Everybody who is anybody in the eCommerce realm uses it extensively to drive their CTR, conversion, and user engagement.
Habituation towards personalized eCommerce has reached the point at which not only do we take it for granted, but its mere absence makes us uncomfortable and urges us to leave a website.
In fact, anybody who is considering commissioning a retail website development will benefit from reading this 9-minute piece on the best practices for personalization in web dev.
What Is Personalization in eCommerce?
While the idea of making the content relatable to users is not that new, the means of implementation have evolved drastically over time. But before we go into the details, let’s try and understand the definition of personalization in web design.
eCommerce Personalization is a set of techniques employed in eCommerce software development, which are devised to provide each user with content that is served based on individual preferences, browsing behavior, or cookie-registered activities.
Such methods are seen as more relevant so they will consequently increase conversion and boost loyalty.
How Web Personalization Impacts Conversion & Sales: Statistics
- 9 out of 10 people confirmed they would be more likely to shop with a brand if it remembered their preferences & provided relevant offers.
- If this carrot is not persuasive enough, here’s a stick for you: 63% of consumers say they will STOP BUYING from brands who use poor personalization tactics.
- If you think that personal data sharing is a concern, here’s some food for thought: if they know they are getting an easier and more affordable experience, 90% of users are willing to share behavioral data.
- 3X ROI anybody?
Sure! 95% of companies who invested in personalization reported an increase in profitability compared to last year.
- 3X is not good enough? Thinking big?
Creating a personalized segmented email marketing campaign may bring a 760% ROI!
Now that we have substantiated by these figures the answer to the question of why personalization is important, let's deep dive into the best practices and juicy nuances of the matter.
Personalization vs Customization
These terms are often confused, but they mean absolutely different things. They are often used interchangeably though.
Let’s just look at the example of customization here for you to illustrate the huge difference between the 2 terms:
Do you know how kids order coffee mugs with inscription and their parents' names specifically printed on them as gifts? This is customization.
Customization is a feature available to a customer to change the design / color / fabric in an item before purchasing, so it can be custom-made taking into account those requirements. Burberry nailed customization, btw.
The Custom Movement offers a few brands that do custom sneakers, including Burberry’s AirForce1.
If you think about it, a custom item is a premium line of products by any brand, that takes longer to buy, costs more, but carries your own limited personality imprints – in the form of monogrammed initials or otherwise.
Segmentation for eCommerce Personalization
There are a lot of data points coming in about a website visitor from different channels. There are cookies, Google Analytics, Google ads, and a myriad of other third party tools that can be collecting your customer data.
All of this information helps an eCommerce store owner to design a website browsing experience that is relevant and highly converting.
These are just some of the parameters that may serve as a segmentation basis for a web developer:
- Geolocation (IP-based, country / city, ZIP-code, time zone)
- Type of device (desktop vs smartphones, Android vs iOS, etc.)
- Gender & Age group (if known via cookies, or explicitly provided by a user)
- Recently viewed products
- Items added to wish list
- Items abandoned in shopping carts
- Past purchases
- Past visits & their frequency
- Past order
- Referrals & channels used
- Pages viewed & videos watched
Explicitly stated data:
- Any data that you may have asked your visitors for in a survey or pop up window
All of these data points may indicate creation of a personalized eCommerce website surfing experience by a savvy entrepreneur.
Let's see were exactly personalized content can be served inside an online store now.
eCommerce Personalization Types
Implementing landing pages for major promotions or seasonal campaigns is popular. Many companies created a special landing page for the time of pandemic, offering words of empathy and acceptance, sometimes offering discounts or free extended trials during the pandemic.
Such landing pages can also be created based on any other parameter, like a seasonal promo, a campaign, or even demographic parameters, like IP or gender. If you are a clothing eCommerce, showing female staff for ladies and males for men respectively is going to save them a few clicks and be received positively in all probability.
Even though they may be irritating, when the traffic is substantial, not implementing them may cost a hefty price in lost customers. This is confirmed by Harris Brian, as seen on this screenshot:
Once again, you can and should customize your overlays as per the parameter you see most fit for the occasion. You may want to serve different content based on how many times a person came to your site – first, second, or just after the purchase.
This world-renowned marketing & SEO guru shares that he uses HelloBar to customize his messaging depending on these criteria:
- Search engine
- Specific keyword
Neil recommends Maximind for Geo IP-based content personalization.
Recommendation engine suggestions
Amazon Legendary gets over 30% of its revenues through purchases that were made due to suggestions by their AI and ML-powered recommendation engine. They must have been pretty accurate to yield that much in results, right?
This is the reason why the businesspeople who consider building an eCommerce website should take into account the importance of a recommendation engine for eCommerce.
There are a few ways how you can program your suggestions:
- For a new online store visitor, you may suggest the most popular items from this category by other users, such as “Also popular this season/in your country.” At this stage, you may aggregate some of the demographic data available into the algorithm formula, for example doing an averaged preference of males in their 25-35-th from the USA for a younger male customer from the States.
- If you already have some history about the user’s purchasing and buying patterns, the suggestions may be a mix of preferences of other users and this individual’s likings.
- Once you have enough of data in terms of what a person prefers, how much he/she is willing to pay, and what filters he/she applies, (get it today delivery, price range, avg. customer reviews, only trusted suppliers, etc), you can program your recommendation engine to suggest items based on those preferences entirely or primarily.
Amazon is the ultimate pioneer and trend-setter when it comes to suggestion engine formulas. See below all the sections that came up in just one page as an example. Moreover, they have embedded in the page a selection tool with 7 filters – offering to pick from very similar objects:
- Brands related to your search
- Get instant recommendations
- 4 stars and above
- Products related to this item
- Special offers and product promotions
- Compare with similar items
- What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
- Bestsellers based on your browsing history
It makes sense to program your online store to automatically choose a language for a visitor based on browser settings.
It would feel weird and off-putting if the Japanese would click to see German on their website page and Americans would open a site to stare in amazement at Japanese characters.
You can go as granular as you wish to or as general as need be here.
Say, you have seasonal sales that you want to promote to your online shop visitors. The minimum info that may be available to an eCommerce entrepreneur is gender.
This way making an eCommerce banner with female models for ladies and with gents for guys is the most obvious step that’s going to make the experience feel natural for your audience.
If your clients have identified themselves by name by creating an account, the best practice is to make it part of your code dynamic so that it includes their name here and there.
See how Amazon makes you feel at home and stimulates the feeling of ownership and belonging by using your name 3 times in the header of their eCommerce giant.
Past Purchasing Behavior
If your visitor seems to have purchased more at a specific time of month/week/day, offering a special perk or a small discount during those times may further reinforce the desire to buy.
If your buyer only chooses products with 4 stars and up, offering anything below is a waste of pixels.
Shopping Cart Personalization
The shopping cart is your final website section for eCommerce personalization.
Make sure you use autofill at every step of the way so as not to scare them off. Offer relevant upsells based on their preferences, and simplify check out, inclusive of using the previous purchase data for shipping to avoid the need for manual input.
eCommerce Personalization Strategy
When it comes to developing an eCommerce personalization strategy, these steps make up a good starting plan:
1. Collect data
Using 3rd party tools if needed. The more data you have on your users, the better the shopping experience you can design for them. Using surveys is a legit method to do so, btw. Cookies, social media records, and email tracking also help complete your mission.
2. Segment your users
Create a few User Persona portraits, understand your demographics, and deep dive into your Pareto principle top 20% profile.
3. Pick your fight: know where you are heading
You may have thousands of ideas on how to make your eCommerce store the next Amazon, but unless you can find your one major goal for this step in the genesis of your business, you are prepping for a flop.
Do you want to increase conversions? Improve sales? Decrease bounce rate? Have a clear goal for clear results.
4. Get a strategy going
At this stage, you are ready to choose your methods, pick your software development company, set a budget, elaborate on how exactly you are going to be personalizing your eCommerce store.
5. Implement your big plan
It’s now time to roll up your sleeves and get down to business. With the right vendor that has heaps of experience in custom eCommerce development, you are all set for success.
6. Measure results, adjust as necessary
Once your online store is personalized to the extent you wanted it to be, there’s no time to rest on your digital laurels. Measure, AB test, repeat.
Zoolatech – the eCommerce Personalization Company for SME
If you are not quite Amazon yet, you probably have a lot of ambition, not too much experience, and pretty tight budgets.
Zoolatech has lots of expertise in the field of eCommerce website development to share with small and medium businesses like yours.
Being rooted in California, our software developers are located in Ukraine, so we provide the Western-like business vision at Eastern European rates.
Drop us an email or chat with our devoted sales team today to improve your users' shopping experience and drive conversions.