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How customer data and personalization are reshaping ecommerce

How customer data and personalization are reshaping ecommerce

Too often, customers spend significant time on a website, even adding items to their cart or wishlist, only to leave without ever making a purchase. In fact, ecommerce stores, on average, lose 75% of sales to shopping cart abandonment.

Ecommerce sites all over the web have found ways of reducing shopping cart abandonment. Zappos and BuyDig, for example, offer free shipping with no minimums to encourage conversions. Best Deals Today combats the impulse to compare prices before checking out by displaying relevant and competitive deals from across the web. Other sites, like Threadless, offer a smooth and hassle-free checkout, taking customers from the cart to the payment screen with no login or guest checkout page in between.

All these strategies are useful for reducing shopping cart abandonment, and they also make ecommerce sites attractive to customers in the first place.

Data-driven targeting and personalization can be particularly effective for small businesses and new entrepreneurs, who may not have the same budget and resources as bigger companies. These smaller brands can nonetheless work their way up by offering highly personalized customer experiences.

Through the strategic application of customer data and personalization, online sellers can better target individual buyers and increase sales a result.


Improved live chat services

While ecommerce has quickly become the mainstream shopping method for just about everything, there are still consumers who prefer brick-and-mortar stores. Shopping from your laptop or smartphone may be more convenient, but some customers prefer the personal feel of engaging with a sales rep who can answer questions and show them specific products tailored to their needs.

All ecommerce retailers face the challenge of attracting customers and gaining their trust. But online merchants shouldn't presuppose a tradeoff between personalized interaction and convenience.

Instead, they should try to make their customers feel as if they have a personal shopper who can guide them through the site. The goal should be to give customers the same customer service benefits they'd get from a friendly brick-and-mortar store, but with the ease and convenience of shopping from home.

This is where data comes in. Online merchants are improving the online shopping experience, in part, by gathering customer data and using this information to engage with their customers on a more personal level. One way companies can do this is by offering live chat options, using customer data to interact with their buyers in the same way an in-person sales rep would.

As an online merchant, you should gather as much customer data as possible and then offer product suggestions to those customers using live chat. You can try coupling your Shopify store with a live chat app like Tidio or to personally engage customers while improving customer service in your online store.

But remember—just as with in-person retailers, there's a fine line between coming across as genuinely helpful and pursuing customers too aggressively. To attract customers rather than annoy them, offer a simple product suggestion and kindly let them know you're there to help with any questions or product recommendations.


Personalized online shopping experiences

Providing shoppers with an online sales rep isn't the only way to attract their attention and close a sale. You should also analyze your store from the customer’s point of view, seeking out areas for further personalization wherever possible.

8 in 10 consumers are willing to pay a slightly higher price for better customer service. For small businesses and early stage entrepreneurs struggling to keep their prices competitive with those of ecommerce giants, it's particularly important that customers feel an online store is customized directly to their needs.

This is the main area where "big data" analytics is radically improving small and new businesses' online success. When you gather and analyze data about your customers, you can personally target each customer who navigates to your site by displaying specific product recommendations based on demographic and other personal data.

You can begin by creating buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations based on actual data taken from real-life customers. By analyzing this data, you can get an idea of which kinds of buyers your site attracts—and target those buyers accordingly. Then, you can display product suggestions relevant to each particular customer segment.


Offering the right prices to the right customers

Often, customers find better prices by browsing online rather than going to a single store in-person. However, offering the best deals isn't always enough.

In addition to offering good prices, online merchants need to offer the right prices to the right customers at the right time. After all, good deals are virtually useless if the only shoppers who see them aren't interested in the products anyway.

This is where ecommerce stores actually have a customer service advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. While traditional stores indiscriminately offer the same discounts, prices, and packages to all customers who walk through the door, ecommerce stores are using customer data to offer them targeted deals based on their unique interests and needs.

Using big data analytics not only leaves shoppers feeling satisfied with finding good prices on relevant products, but it also helps online retailers increase their sales.

Whether using Shopify or another ecommerce platform, you can use customer data to better inform your sales strategy, particularly your upselling and cross-selling techniques. This means offering customers special deals like "Buy one and get 50% off the second one," or "Buy two and get another relevant product for free."

10-30% of ecommerce revenues come from cross-selling and upselling. By analyzing customer data, you can cross-sell and upsell the precise products a particular customer is interested in. You can also use the data to get a better idea of your customers' budgets, and strategically price your items as a result.


Displaying non-intrusive advertising

Finally, customer data and personalization are improving the online shopping experience for customers by making advertising less intrusive.

When customers feel annoyed by advertising, it’s typically because it simply isn’t relevant to their current needs. Even when an advertised product is seemingly relevant to a certain customer, it might not be what that customer is looking for at that precise time.

By using big data to learn more about your customers, you can greatly improve the timeliness of your ads. There’s a lot you can learn not only by looking at customers’ demographic data, but also by analyzing their online activity. Does a customer have a big trip coming up? How about a sporting event, or a job interview?

Using this information, you can create ads that are relevant, well-timed, and less annoying to the customer as a result.


Final thoughts

Data and personalization go hand-in-hand with ecommerce, and they're especially useful for small businesses and new entrepreneurs looking to get a leg up. To increase your sales, use customer data to offer personalization wherever possible—whether it's through a friendly live chat feature, a carefully curated display of product recommendations and deals, or skillfully targeted ads.


About the author

Shachar Shamir is COO of Ranky, a marketing company based in Tel Aviv. As Ranky’s COO, Shachar helps startups around the world with their marketing and online growth needs. So far, he has helped more than 200 startups with hands-on solutions. As Ranky’s founder, he’s involved in all the company’s main activities—business development, sales, marketing, recruiting, office administration, company goals.
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