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Consumers Want Tailored Experiences, But Fewer than Half of Retailers Are Getting Personalization Right

Target audienceFewer than half of retailers are successfully using even the most basic personalization techniques, while even less are using advanced techniques to customize shopping experience. According to new research from unified brand engagement platform Reflektion, which recently announced findings from a consumer survey commissioned with Internet Retailer.

“Consumers want intuitive, personal digital store experiences, yet many of the major eCommerce players are missing the mark by relying on basic strategies that broadly target customer bases,” said Kurt Heinemann, chief marketing officer at Reflektion, in a news release. “This report illustrates the widening gap that exists between consumer expectations and eCommerce realities and highlights strategies from retailers doing personalization right and generating significant revenue as a result.”

Today’s Consumers Expect Brands to Know Their Preferences

According to the findings, retailers who figure out how to replicate in-store experiences on the web, serve up relevant products and offer services akin to personal shopping online can benefit the most. Unfortunately, online retailers have a long way to go to deliver on the promise of giving consumers what they want.

Findings from the consumer survey showed:

  • Top merchants are struggling with personalization. Nearly half of respondents said it’s important for retailers to consider their browsing history and online purchases when customizing marketing for them.
  • More interactive search methods top consumers’ wish lists. One in five consumers are interested in using voice or photo search, but not a single top 100 retailer extended either option to shoppers through primary eCommerce sites.
  • Shoppers want product recommendations; retailers win by grabbing extra revenue. Shopper sentiment toward related products is resoundingly positive as more than half (55.7%) enjoy seeing related products, 64.2% expect to see related products and 60.2% of respondents purchased a related product with great frequency.

Retailers Must Learn to Deliver on Consumer Expectations

Additional key findings show retailers must design a brand experience to create the most engaging and relevant moment for shoppers at any given point of engagement. Findings from the report indicate the following:

  • Retailers must tailor “recommended products” to consumers. Only about four in every 10 e-retailers offered recommended products on their home pages that were updated based on a shopper’s browsing behavior.
  • Consumers’ preferences are falling through the cracks and being forgotten. One third of retailers presented targeted home page product recommendations to a returning shopper before the shopper logged in during a second site visit. That number still was less than half even after logging in.
  • Retailers are losing sight of the individual when they shop across multiple devices. Just 17 percent of home pages on retailers’ mobile sites featured personalized product recommendations based on shoppers’ browsing behavior from two prior desktop site visits while logged in under the same account.
  • Limited site search capabilities are degrading the customer experience. The vast majority of retailers relied heavily on basic keyword terms to itemize search results and didn’t accurately guess what a shopper might be looking for based on browsing history. One third of retailers’ search bars utilized visuals with product thumbnails in suggested results as shoppers typed a query.
  • Retailers are missing out on consumers who visit but don’t buy. One quarter of retailers sent shoppers a site-abandonment email after a visitor viewed products but ended the session without buying. Just under half of retailers sent shoppers a cart-abandonment email after they added an item to their shopping cart but didn’t complete the purchase.

“Despite the fact that eCommerce represents the most data-rich environment ever seen, brands still aren’t doing a solid job at digital personalization,” Heinemann said. “It’s an era of retailers being challenged economically, and this is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue on the floor.”

Silver Lining: Some Retailers are Getting it Right

The study spotlights retailers like O’Neill Clothing, a surf, snow and youth lifestyle brand, which found success with an individualized approach to customer engagement that accounts for distinct qualities and preferences. By reimagining their site search functionality as a merchandising opportunity, using everything they know about each customer, O’Neill boosted conversion rate by 26 percent, average order size by 17 percent and page views by 62 percent.

Download the complete report here.

Internet Retailer collected and analyzed data on the top 100 online retailers by visiting each of their eCommerce sites three times, including once on a mobile device and with at least 24 hours between visits. In addition, Internet Retailer surveyed more than 500 consumers from a representative sample of various genders, ages, ethnicities, geographic region and income levels.

Source: Marketwired; edited by Richard Carufel

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