Part 1: Practical tips for growing your eCommerce conversion rates
The competition for gaining market share is heating up in the eCommerce space. As a result, brands and retailers are struggling to improve their revenue and profitability. While eCommerce conversion rates remain one of the most important metrics for driving top-line growth, not enough importance is placed on improving it.
While it is widely known that personalization is the key to improving conversion rates, online retailers still have a long way to go if they are going to deliver on their promise of providing consumers what they say they want when shopping online. Simply said, brands aren’t consistently delivering eCommerce personalization, even in the richest data-driven environments. This leaves hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue on the table. That’s a big miss, given the ample evidence that personalization—when executed effectively—can result in dramatic increases to conversion rate, average order size and revenue per visit.
At Reflektion, we assist top retailers and brands in developing a proactive strategy to dramatically improve conversion rates and grow revenues, thus competing more effectively in a hyper-competitive retail marketplace.
Today, I’m embarking upon a journey to help brands and retailers realize their potential of increasing eCommerce conversion rates through a five-part series of blog posts, where I will be sharing 2-3 new tips at a time from our Real-time Personalization Guidebook – 10 Tips for Improving Conversions.
Tip # 1 – Deliver 1:1 personalization
First things first: segmentation is passe’. In today’s e-retail landscape, experts say that individual shopping behavior—not demographic makeup, or “segment”—should dictate how best matched products are served up to online shoppers. A recent customer study found that 84% of customers confirm that being treated as a person, not a number, is very important for winning their business. This signals a massive shift in the mindset of the online shopper. If you want to earn the loyalty of the shoppers, you need to demonstrate that you know their preferences, shopping history, and interests—and act on them.
If you are still using traditional segmentation as your initial personalization strategy, you should understand that it has several drawbacks. To begin with, even after conscientious segment analysis, what may appeal to one segment member may not work for another. Additionally, a traditional segmentation-based approach requires the criteria for segments be revisited frequently. Lastly, due to its dependence on broad averages within demographic segments, segmentation-based approaches can’t address inconsistent behaviors very well. For example, if a retailer collects basic demographic information on Jane Smith and determines she is a woman in the 26-34 age range with a $75,000+ income, it makes assumptions based on what others in her group have purchased. In the retailer’s mind, she is likely to buy ladies blazers with trendy boots for work or boho ensembles for outdoor music festivals.
On the other hand, an individualization-based approach personalizes for shoppers at a 1:1 level and identifies their distinct qualities and preferences. If you pay more attention to Jane Smith’s personal click-throughs and previous purchases than her demographic, you may discover that she is an avid hiker who frequently needs to replace her worn boots and has recently developed an addiction to garden planters and an affinity for red windbreaker jackets. She may turn out to be a very different shopper than her overgeneralized “segment” would suggest.
Thus, by recognizing your customers’ unique traits at a 1:1 level and making them feel as if they are being taken care of by a dedicated shopping assistant like they would be at a high-touch brick-and-mortar store, your conversion rates will certainly improve.
Tip # 2 – Make it relevant in real-time
Digital media technology is advancing at a frenetic pace, and this has impacted human behavior significantly. Scientists have found that the human attention span—at six to eight seconds—has become less than that of a goldfish—at nine seconds. This is why real-time engagement is a dramatic step in the evolution of personalization.
Today, if your eCommerce website is not showing relevant products in real time, you will find yourself falling behind. Customers want and need information in the moment or about 46% of them will bounce off your eCommerce site. Shoppers value relevant experiences—and in micro-moments, those short periods of time between activities—real-time personalization can connect on-the-go shoppers with the best product for them in the shortest amount of time. Indeed, delivering relevant choice in real-time is both a challenge, and an opportunity, for brands and retailers. The more you can deliver relevant and individualized shopper experiences in the moment, the greater your conversion rate will be.
Tip # 3 – Tap multi-layered Artificial Intelligence
A known issue with eCommerce sales performance is that shopper behavior continues to change across seasons, geographies, demographics, and much more. As a brand or retailer, it’s impossible for you to manually respond to changing shopping behaviors at scale. However, AI and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities can handle this challenge with ease.
Advancements in AI / ML, especially deep learning, empower you to tap into individual neural networks that consider individual visitor profile, demographics, recent visits, session intent, and propensity to buy of the customer. AI algorithms constantly listen to shoppers’ behaviors across all digital touchpoints, and convert them into shopper insights. Behind the scenes, the AI engine discovers hidden linkages between product attributes and shopping behaviors and intelligently respond to shopper’s purchase intent in real-time.
Retailers and brands should take note that the term “AI” has often been marketed and used generically in eCommerce and the retail industry recently, resulting in a somewhat clouded understanding. When improving your personalization strategy, it’s important to realize that not all AI technologies are created equally. For maximum conversion effectiveness, the AI engine should traverse multiple layers. First, the contextual layer can cover variables like geolocation, season, time of the day, incoming traffic source, and device. Next, the cohort layer can take advantage of trending and similar interests at an aggregate level. Moving on, at the individual layer, the AI engine can take preferences for price, style, size, and color into consideration. Finally, the business layer can factor in margin, revenue, and manually specified boost, bury or pin rules that merchandisers may specify per business needs.
In this way, by leveraging advanced AI and ML capabilities, you can scale up your eCommerce personalization for each and every online shopper across the world. Doing this enables you to improve conversion rates across seasonality and future-proof your business.
Well, that’s a great start for now.
For your benefit, here’s a quick round up of the key ideas that we discussed today to get you started in your eCommerce personalization journey:
Placing laser focus on improving conversion rates will help increase market share.
Implementing personalization best practices will help you boost conversion rates.
Segmentation needs to give way to 1:1 personalization, especially in order to scale.
Engage shoppers in-the-moment by delivering “relevant” personalization in real-time.
Future-proof your strategy and cater to changing shopper behaviors by tapping AI algorithms in a multi-layered manner.
In my next blog post, I will continue this discussion by sharing the two more practical tips for increasing online conversions. However, if you’d rather not wait, you can download the Real-time Personalization Guidebook – 10 Tips for Improving Conversions today. Also, if you haven’t explored the power of Reflektion’s next-generation customer engagement platform yet, I highly encourage you to contact one of our personalization experts today via reflektion.com/demo. Until next time!