The How and Why of eCommerce Personalisation for Greater Customer Experience

Anna-Louise McDougall
Last Updated:
August 31, 2023
5 min

An end-to-end personalisation strategy is essential to the success of your online store. Here’s how to add 360 degrees of human touch to your CX.

While customers are becoming more clued-in on machine learning and how eCommerce teams use their data, it’s imperative we constantly come to the table with new, holistic strategies that remain completely customer-centric.

The 2021 Retail Speaks report from McKinsey states that while brands recognise the importance of personalisation, only 15% of retailers implement its ideals across all channels.

So, consider what your profit margins can look like by adding 360 degrees of human touch to your online experience. Here, we outline the why and how of eCommerce personalisation.

The How and Why of eCommerce Personalisation for Greater Customer Experience

Why eCommerce personalisation matters

A study conducted by KPMG suggests that personalisation is one of the strongest factors driving customer loyalty. Therefore, making it essential for retailers to nail a personal experience for increased customer retention. Or else, what? Well, according to Big Commerce, 53% of shoppers say that they have stopped buying from an online store because of a bad experience, or that a competitor offered a better one.

Whether the customer is tripped up during the navigation process, at the checkout, over the phone or at the returns portal, a bad online experience will cost you every time.

Increasing customer retention means improving your eCommerce customer experience with evolving ways to deliver what the customer needs at any stage of the journey before they know it themselves. This ongoing vigilance is critical to the success and growth of your business.

What customer-centric really means

Hint: everything.

Building trust ranks high on the scale of the most important ways you can use personalisation. According to Edelman, consumers want to trust brands to do what is right for their product, for their customers and for society. And that brands actually follow through on all three.

Here’s some customer concerns as detailed by an Edelman Report on trust:

  • The ever-increasing number of brands holding their personal information in their databases
  • The increasing sophistication with which brands can target or track them
  • The increasing reliance of brands on automation and artificial intelligence for customer service

Now, this seems to throw a spanner in the works of all that AI chat. Or does it?Data collection is even more important at this point to understand your customers better, and treat them as individuals.

Take Stitch Fix for example. Online personalisation is the key part of their service. They deliver handpicked fashion products to their individual customers based on their initial preferences from the jump. How’s that for transparency?

When you offer brand transparency by talking to your customers in a way that supports their needs, the product quality, and your responsibility to society, wonderful things can happen. Wonderful, proven things like:

  • Increased purchase frequency
  • Higher average order values
  • Better referrals and cheaper acquisitions

And how do you do that? A personalized customer experience. And that starts with understanding the difference between UX and CX.

Understanding UX vs CX

This X has nothing to do with Gossip Girl.

It’s hard to talk about personalisation without mentioning user experience (UX) as it equates to the customer experience (CX) as a whole. Personalisation, goes hand-in-hand with pretty much everything from segmentation, to customer service and CRM.

While eCommerce CX refers to everything that occurs between the customer and your brand, UX refers to the functional structures and aspects within the overall experience.

UX is concerned with the customer’s ability to perform the tasks intended along the customer journey, in the most efficient way possible.

  • Finding the exact product they’re looking for with ease
  • Accessing and digesting branded content
  • Making purchases and other transactions

Managing the eCommerce CX, is the process of gaining and maintaining a 360 view over every experience your eCommerce customers have with your brand and being able to tweak and adjust to better their outcome. This can include:

  • Ensuring your Instagram shop matches your online experience, prices and availability
  • Your sale ads lead to the product pages they suggest
  • That your social marketing messages are reiterated on your website
  • Enabling your customer service team to know brand products in detail, and can access stock levels with ease to accommodate customer queries
  • Providing product descriptions and size guides that assist the customer in selecting the right size without confusion

As AI evolves in its ability to analyse and facilitate personalisation itself, it will only become more important for you to tailor your CX accordingly as time goes on.

How to use your data

It’s the difference between throwing eCommerce spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick, and saying, “Hey, I know my customers will like X because the data says so.”

This will require you to make a shift in how you conduct research, make business decisions, and take customer-facing action. There are a number of tactics you can use to improve the digital experience for your audience.

Shopify tells us that onsite product recommendations account for 31% of eCommerce site revenues. Let that sink in for a second. If you don’t have already product recommendations in place… flag that. It’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eCommerce personalisation.

Here are some further personalisation touchpoints to consider:

  • Offer personal discounts on products or services that are relevant for the customer
  • Recognize their location and provide info on delivery to this region
  • Remember customer’s history: showcase a list of recommendations based on the items a customer has viewed and a list of recently viewed items
  • Communicate with customers in their native language
  • Personalise emails: a birthday acknowledgment, or an invitation to a VIP event or simply letting them know based on their history, a particular item is in stock, will be the cherry on top of your service. Take Mr Porter as an example when it comes to CRM personalisation. Customers get tho choose what products they want to see in their email communications. That’s one way to up the open rate.

As with all areas of eCommerce, timing is everything. Your customers are savvy, so remember to keep them top of mind, adhere to their needs and don’t make decisions based on your competitors. Be authentic, be socially aware, talk to your customers on a personal level, and they will follow.

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