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Sep 14 2017

Is 1:1 personalization really everyone’s cup of tea?

Sharath Keshavanarayana

Director - Sales

Personalization is quite a buzzword in the eCommerce world. Any retailer, eCommerce executive, merchandiser, or eTail technology leader will quickly mention 1:1 personalization as one of the hot topics on their minds.

I experienced this firsthand during my visits to digital retail events in 2017 — from the Big Show and eTail to IRCE. Almost every retailer wants to know more about this elusive trend that is hot on the charts, and every vendor claims to be doing it like a pro.

But getting down to the brass tacks: what is 1:1 personalization?

Amazon's online strategy — and the introduction of uber-personalized Prime — changed the world of eCommerce forever. Repeat visits and purchases allowed them to collect tons of data which later translated to better recommendations and an enhanced shopper experience due to machine learning.

We've all experienced it — it almost feels like these sites are talking to you and coaxing you to buy. This is the classic use case for 1:1 personalization.

Evolution of the marketplace

As the retail industry continues to evolve, it has become increasingly clear that the future of shopping lies online. To remain profitable and relevant, brands must adapt to this shift and find ways to stand out in a crowded digital marketplace. One solution that has gained popularity among retailers is personalization - tailoring the shopping experience to individual customers based on their past behavior and preferences.

Amazon is a prime example of a company that has mastered personalization on a massive scale.

A staggering 32% of Amazon shoppers are repeat customers who make purchases on the site at least once a quarter, providing retailers with a wealth of data that allows them to personalize the shopping experience for each customer.

However, it's important to note that most retail sites can only effectively personalize for 6-8% of their overall visitor traffic, leaving the majority of their audience without a fully customized experience. This is especially true for retailers with less diverse customer bases.

So, before jumping on the personalization bandwagon, it's essential to consider whether this strategy is right for your brand. Of course, it's always tempting to follow the latest trends, but it's ultimately more important to focus on what will work best for your business and your customers.

How 1:1 personalization can work for you

1:1 personalization that isn't accurate can drive customers away. I've been to several sites that gave me irrelevant suggestions while searching for products, and that's the kind of experience you want to avoid emulating. If you need to do it right, don't do it.

Instead of hyper-personalization, which requires a tonne of data, focus on proper segmentation and targeting as it's a much safer bet to play. For example, if I were a regular visitor to your site, you might need to learn more about me. Still, a few visits would inform you of my location, the device I am most comfortable with, the number of visits I've made to your site, and how I arrived at your site.

Some level of click-through analysis can help you determine what I am looking for. This is because geographical location, device type, user type, number of visits, and channel are all defined segments. Such data can help you target customers better once your team has a system to analyze, assimilate, and bucket the data into relevant segments with set rules.

Additionally, if your merchandisers create appropriate product placements or if you have a machine learning system to rank products based on this segmented data — you can achieve some level of personalization for a significant percentage of visitors.


1:1 personalization might not be everyone's cup of tea, but you can still make the most of the data you have.

My interactions with many retailers over the years have helped me realize that the shift in technology & behavioral landscape will ensure everyone innovates and makes this a more evolved marketplace. The various technologies available only help in making this possible. But, on the other side, we have a more vital retail ecosystem, so now is the time to collaborate and win!

Learn more about how Unbxd can help you give your customer the ultimate personalized shopping experiences.

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