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Study Reveals Fewer than Half of Retailers are Getting Personalization Right

Internet Retailer finds consumers want experiences tailored to their preferences, but most retailers have yet to deliver.

Reflektion, the leading unified engagement platform for brands worldwide, today announced findings of new research and a consumer survey commissioned with Internet Retailer. Based on results from the top 100 North American online retailers as ranked by their web sales and a national survey of more than 500 consumers – Digital Personalization: The Missed Opportunityfound that fewer than half of retailers are successfully using even the most basic personalization techniques, while even less are using advanced techniques to customize shopping experience.

“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, Reflektion. “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.

For a link to the full study, visit http://reflektion.com/2017-internet-retailer-report

Methodology
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.

About Reflektion
Reflektions unified engagement platform understands and influences the intent of each customer in real time and instantly delivers the most relevant content across the touchpoints that matter most – including Web, merchandising, site search and email. Reflektion’s platform is driving dramatic growth and revenue increases for the world’s best brands, such as Disney, TOMS, Marmot, Sur la Table and Godiva.

Founded in 2012 by pioneers in deep learning, Reflektion is bringing the strength of artificial intelligence to bear on the retail and eCommerce industry. Its platform uniquely combines individual shopper insights, product intelligence and deep learning to create more intimate and impactful commerce experiences.

Reflektion is backed by leading investors including Battery Ventures, Hasso Plattner Ventures, Clear Ventures and Intel Capital.