For the last few years I have worked in the retail sector, and my experience of Ecommerce personalization platforms had until recently left me nervous about my readiness to embrace this new technology. Hours of unplanned development integration, the feeling of being cast into a support ticketing system black hole and inaccurate results had left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not surprising, considering the fixed long-term agreed contract I had agreed to and the amount of my annual budget that this was chomping into. It’s now time to revisit my ecommerce personalization wish list.
Ecommerce and Digital Marketing has been my bag for several years and the one key challenge I have always come across, regardless of sector, is how to create a more relevant web experience for my online customers. Over the last 5 years industry reports have raved about personalization as the new ‘must have technology’ threatening adopt or die theologies.
My initial frustration was trying to filter through all the online industry ‘experts’ and working out which technology solution would be the right fit. Like any business there are considerations of budget, resource, technological and commercial integration, versus the potential benefit of personalising the online offering.
Companies tend to offer a ‘pick and mix’ approach on ways you can personalise your online offering instead of offering an affordable and comprehensive package. You can choose from personalizing your search, pop-ups, emails, banner ads, product recommendations, social media advertising, the list goes on and feels like a mine field.
My wish list wasn’t huge and in hindsight was quite naïve. My objectives were:
- to increase online conversion and average order value but more importantly provide a relevant and engaging web experience and in doing so build brand loyalty
- a reputable personalization platform that could integrate with our website that was easy to use!
- the ability to present the right offers, messages and products to my online customers through a dashboard or interface that was intuitive
- to be able to run reports on the return that the platform was delivering so I could confidently show the business that it was a worthy investment.
Accuracy here was key. Not a lot to ask I hope you’ll agree. I managed to tick some of the above criteria boxes in my first platform selection but certainly not all. Platform compatibility really seemed to be a sticking point. Accuracy was poor, and I felt I needed a PHD in Nuclear Physics to navigate my way through the management dashboards.
However, where my naivety shone through was in not knowing what else I really did need.
Experience proved that I needed a company that would act as an extended part of my team when we were taking our first steps into this new arena. Ecommerce Personalisation, Merchandising and Search were my priority, so I needed a system would fully understand my customers behaviours and cleverly used this insight to cleverly merchandise without any intervention from me. I did have time to promote offers and throw in some sexy seasonal advertising but not all the time. My time was tight, and I struggled to dedicate enough time to what was required all the time. I needed a solution that would flex with me.
Technology companies need to understand that embedding a new way of personalized online marketing into established online retailer platforms requires more than a hard sell offering. Through experience, knowing what I know now, my wish list for ecommerce personalization technology selection would now look rather different. My focus would extend to proven commercial viability, ability to flex the time invested, excellent support offering, easy to use dashboard, flexible contracts and a flexible yet affordable solution.
So, if you’re looking to embrace Ecommerce personalization into your online offering make sure you look beyond the hard sell and online promises and find a solution that ticks all your boxes the first time round.