85 Percent of Internet Retailer’s Hot 100 Treat Return Shoppers the Same as First Time Visitors

Despite data showing personalization is a major priority for retailers, Retail Systems Research (RSR) analysis of IR100 retailers’ eCommerce channels indicates otherwise

Retail Systems Research (RSR) published a report today finding that the majority of leading retailers have yet to implement functional personalization across eCommerce websites and devices. This shortcoming among Internet Retailer’s Hot 100 (IR100) retailers represents a major revenue opportunity loss for the industry and is in stark contrast to the widely held belief among marketers that personalization is a major priority. Retailers that actually implement and develop their digital personalization strategies have a distinct competitive advantage and their shoppers are more successful at finding and purchasing what they are looking for. This practice has translated into increased conversion by 26 percent for leading retailers like Disney, Uniqlo, Converse, and O’Neill Clothing.

“Today’s digital consumers are expecting the intuitive, individualized experiences they find in apps like Google, Spotify and Facebook. Webstores can meet this standard, by remembering each shopper and responding within each session to individual intent. Reflektion’s work with numerous clients shows that engagement and sales jump when etailers get it right,” says Sean Moran, CEO of Reflektion. “Digital consumers have a higher bar for a personalized experience that retailers need to meet to be successful.”

Key Findings

85 percent of retailers showed the same home page to new and returning visitors, which illustrates an absence of personalization in one of its most basic forms across the industry. The RSR report found three core areas of missed opportunities for retail personalization including device, site search and product recommendations:


  • 52 percent of IR100 sites do not tailor content based on whether a visitor is using a desktop, tablet or smartphone.
  • 83 percent of retail mobile sites do not leverage any previous shopping behavior information to help online shoppers.

Site Search

  • 93 percent of IR100 sites do not help users complete search terms or offer relevant images while users type into the search box (a user experience function that is standard among the web’s most used social, content and search services).
  • 7 percent return completely irrelevant search results or lack offering a search bar.

Product Recommendations

  • 74 percent of IR100 sites have no memory of past products browsed by users during previous visits, which forces shoppers to start the entire discovery process over again.
  • Only 42 percent recommended relevant merchandise to shoppers while they viewed a particular item.

“RSR set out to evaluate 100 top selling web-based retailers to discover the current state of ‘personal’ online shopping,” says Steve Rowen, managing partner, RSR Research. “What we found was that although the industry understands the importance of personalization, the reality is that their execution falls very short. At the highest level, we discovered that retailers’ personalization strategies are rudimentary at best. ”

Personalization has traditionally been technically daunting for retailers and it’s not surprising that few have been able to achieve their goals with older technologies,” states Amar Chokhawala, Reflektion Founder and former 11 year Google veteran. “Recently we’ve seen a shift from rule-based or segment-driven tools to an individual shopper-focused approach, that utilizes big data and machine learning to listen and respond to each visitor in real time. Paradoxically, this new approach is actually easier to deploy and less work for retailers.”

The entire report can be downloaded by visiting

RSR started with the 2014 Internet Retailer Top-100 list, and made a few alterations to exclude retailers for which personalization is not a viable strategy. Retailers were evaluated in two distinct visits across their individual desktop, tablet and mobile sites. At least 24 hours after the initial visit, the analysts returned using the same device and browser, with browsing history intact, in order to gauge the level of personalization presented.

About Reflektion
Reflektion drives millions of incremental conversion events for leading retailers of all sizes, including Disney, Converse, Uniqlo, and O’Neill. The company’s core technology is uniquely built around capturing and responding to each individual shopper’s intent in real time and the continuous optimization of digital discovery, consideration, and purchases. Reflektion generates significantly higher returns than legacy Personalization platforms with conversion rates increasing by an average of 26%. The company is backed by leading investors including Intel Capital and Nike. Reflektion is the 2015 winner of’s Digital Commerce Start Up of the Year award.

About RSR
Retail Systems Research (“RSR”) is the only research company run by retailers for the retail industry. RSR provides insight into business and technology challenges facing the extended retail industry, providing thought leadership and advice on navigating these challenges for specific companies and the industry at large. We do this by: identifying information that helps retailers and their trading partners to build more efficient and profitable businesses; identifying industry issues that solutions providers must address to be relevant in the extended retail industry; providing insight and analysis about a broad spectrum of issues and trends in the extended retail industry.