Personalisation Still Has a Long Way to Go in Ecommerce!

It always amazes me when I hear people talk about personalisation on the web being done. It’s so “web 2.0” they say and then tweet about it. I think that is rubbish!


Yes Amazon has had recommendations for a long time or “item to item collaborative filtering” if you want to get shirty, and that was back in 2012. It also works in driving incremental sales BUT it is just the beginning…

The ad tech industry has always had to be at the vanguard of personalisation. The theory is that if you show me the right ad at the right time, personalised to me, I will buy. It has been shown to work and thousands of businesses pay millions of dollars to the ad tech industry, yet…

very few of these same businesses follow the personalisation logic through to their own websites. So you have shown me the right pair of shoes in colour and size in the ad, but when I come through to your website they aren’t there or, even worse, are sold out!


When you land on an ecommerce site, here is what should happen:

1) The page is personalised to you based on a number of things: where you have come from, intent (have you come from an ad, a customer referral or something else), your past shopping history with that site, if you have one, prefilled forms with your data to make the purchase as seamless as possible i.e. one click, and your clothes or shoe sizes should be stored. If you show me stock that is sold out, tell me how I can preorder it and make sure it happens quickly.

2) Personalise any conversation you have with me via email, social media, ads, abandoned cart, and allow me to purchase directly from them all.

3) Apply micro and macro events, trends, seasonality and weather to things you show me if it impacts my purchasing behaviour.

4) If you have an offline presence i.e. retail store, tie it together with my online presence. I should be able to shop online and when I come into your physical store your sales assistants should be able to help me find what I’m interested in. Check out Stitch fix to see an example of a company doing this really well.

Some ecommerce businesses are finding that ~95% of their repeatable revenue is coming from ~5% of their users, therefore you should make damn sure you know who those users are and how to find more like them .

There are numerous examples of $50B companies who don’t do any personalisation based on your previous purchasing – that beggars belief in this day and age.

All is not lost, though. There is a large number of companies doing personalisation well and working on solving the problem for others (we are applying personalisation to conversion, loyalty and rewards).

The more you get to know your customer and can tailor your experiences to them, the more they will trust you, which is absolutely paramount in winning the ecommerce battle. Removing anxiety is a crucial part of the user experience, i.e. you know that Amazon will deliver your order.

Amazon have done so well at this that they are beating Google at the search game when it comes to online shopping. Bill Gurley calls this the “reversal of the funnel” – Amazon are destroying Google search (Google were top of funnel) as you just search for what you want to buy on Amazon and then if you can’t find it, you go to Google.

Mobile and ecommerce


If you can get a customer to download an app you’re better off, but this is hard if you’re SEO dependent because you want to cling onto that model!

SEO advantages are temporary, however Google are pressuring people to keep their products on the web, because they can’t index stuff inside mobile apps.

The rise of mobile, however, is unstoppable, and you need to adapt to it or really risk losing out.


Mobile should be used as a tool to help tie the online world with the offline. It is the device that can transport you between the two. Therefore you should optimise and personalise the mobile experience as much as you can to facilitate real-world actions i.e. in-store purchases, loyalty programmes, helping you find the product you want within a store and payment if there is a long queue at the till.


With mobile you can, in theory, be constantly connected with a customer as the mobile device rarely leaves their side. This is where personalisation becomes even more relevant. If you are always with me, you know a lot about me. Use this to craft a better user experience.

In summary

1) Personalise your website and messaging to your individual customer as much as possible. It will increase your conversion rates and provide a better customer experience if done well.

2) In order to personalise and optimise your ecommerce experience, you need to be able to measure and understand data. Without thisskill sett you will be stumped.

3) If you have an offline presence make sure you tie it in with the online experience.

4) Ignore mobile and particularly mobile apps at your peril in ecommerce.

5) Make it easy for the customer to find what they want. If you have a large product SKU or are a marketplace, make sure you have optimised search functionality.

About the Author :

Founder, Director of Product and Marketing at Loyalty Bay. I’m tasked with creating global scalable products and building out the Product and Marketing teams, now that we are part of Perkbox.

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