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Key To Holiday Shopping Success: Ecommerce Personalization

November 27, 2019
5 min reading time

With so many online retail options available to consumers during the holiday season, how can brands connect with consumers to increase eCommerce sales?

Top Holiday Ecommerce Trends for 2019

Online shopping is here to stay and has been steadily increasing in popularity over the last few years. In February 2019, for the first time ever, the total market share of sales done with “non-store” retailers, or online, was higher than general merchandise.

The convenience and simplicity of online shopping is hard to beat. Shoppers can search for anything and buy almost anything online. Consumers no longer need to deal with the crowds, traffic, and time commitment that comes with traditional holiday shopping.

A retailer may have the best prices and products but none of that matters if a shopper doesn’t see anything that speaks to them. If the user experience is poor and a shopper cannot easily find exactly what they want, then the site visitor will simply leave your site and move onto a competitor. Retailers who take advantage of eCommerce personalization will have the advantage this Holiday season.

2019 Holiday Retail Sales Growth

The National Retail Federations expects that US Holiday Retail Sales for November and December will increase between 3.8% and 4.2% this year which is above average growth.

Although retail sales are expected to rise this holiday season, this does not mean that shoppers will automatically buy more from your website. In order to perfectly capture this growth in sales, brands need to capture the attention of consumers and prevent them from getting their holiday finds from competitors.

Why Personalization is the Top eCommerce Marketing Trend

You can’t treat users with a one-size-fits-all approach anymore. In order to maximize sales potential and increase conversions, brands need to live up to consumers’ expectations for a personalized experience. If they don’t, sales will fall and so will conversions.

Without personalization, your users are more likely to leave your site without making a purchase. Whether the site visitors are browsing or actively searching for something, your eCommerce website needs to instantly predict consumer needs and preferences in real time.

Ecommerce personalization is crucial for staying relevant to your customers and differentiating your brand from competitors. Implementing a personalization strategy for your eCommerce size will increase page views, add to cart size, and ultimately improve conversions.

For true website personalization, every visitor should be given different content and offers based on their time of day and location, the websites they were visiting prior to yours, search keywords, on-site behavior, shopping cart contents, and more. This guarantees a higher conversion on every click and view because the products are matched to customers who are more likely to buy them.

To create a better user experience and keep site visitors happy, you must offer customers what they want, and you must offer this in real time. Offering personalized product recommendations will make your site visitors feel understood. When site visitors have a good user experience, they are more likely to return to your site again and recommend your site to others.

Similar products at better prices are just another google search away, so brands need to do everything they can to automatically and intelligently serve the right item to the right person when they are most likely to buy it.

Using Social Media to Boost eCommerce Sales

The impact of social media on eCommerce websites should not be underestimated this holiday season. Social media websites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have quickly become platforms for discovering and sharing cool products and gift ideas. In fact, these three social media sites drive the most referrals to retailer websites than any other social media platform. In Q1 of 2019, Facebook drove 80% of the referral traffic, Instagram ranked second at 11%, and Pinterest came in third at 8%.

In MarketLive's 2015 Annual Holiday Survey, they found that 56% of online shoppers look for gift ideas on social websites like Pinterest and that 55% are now comfortable sharing information about themselves in exchange for personalized product recommendations. Interesting enough, 47% of shoppers with Pinterest accounts said they had purchased something online after pinning it.

Pinterest does a great job of curating content and tracking user profiles through tags and the accounts people follow. People trust Pinterest and expect to find products they like every time they visit. Pinterest uses machine learning to personalize.

In terms of holiday shopping, people love making wish lists and finding gift ideas on Pinterest because it offers a streamlined user experience. Everything is easy, organized, and relevant for each user that visits. Not to mention, the image-focused website design is stimulating and makes Pinterest seem more fun.

Generally people accept and promote the presence of brands they identify with, support, or enjoy. People have come to expect and tolerate advertisements, as long as they aren’t too aggressive and offer products they’re interested in.

Holiday shopping on mobile continues to increase

This year Deloitte reported that the use of smartphones to make holiday purchase has now reached 70%, which is an 11% increase since 2017. Because of this, it’s important that brands understand how mobile users behave on eCommerce sites. Incorporating a eCommerce marketing strategy that is customized to those needs and experiences will help retailers increase sales and conversions.

Mobile users expect everything to be fast, easy, and relevant. The smaller screen makes searching and browsing on mobile harder. If you don’t have a sleek, simple, and responsive web design that delivers a seamless shopping experience, someone else will.

Successful eCommerce websites are learning how to connect people with the right products in the right moments, regardless of what device they’re using. In order to gain a full user profile with relevant data, brands need to track users from their first visit to the final conversion across multiple channels and this can only be accomplished using eCommerce personalization.

Avoid these Common Conversion Problems in eCommerce

Although it would be a step up from nothing, personalization that is curated by a person cannot compare to machine learning personalization that is programmed with predictive analytics.

True real-time personalization can only be accomplished when you're targeting individual users rather than audience segments. Only focusing on previous buying behavior doesn't mean that's what a customer wants to buy at the current time. For example, just because a user bought a pair of shoes a few weeks ago does not mean the site visitor wants socks today.

It’s also important to concentrate on building one-stop-shopping experiences for users. Sometimes people don't want to spend money shipping just one item. If they can't find something else they like right away, they'll be discouraged from following through on the initial purchase they intended to make.

Finally, don’t take anything for granted. If someone visits your website and leaves without making a purchase, it doesn’t mean they won’t buy something in the future. Recapture those users and make the most out of their browsing data or abandoned shopping carts and wish lists with personalized email marketing.

Machine Learning Technology Imperative for eCommerce Personalization

All in all, key an eye out for the trends this holiday season and see how social media and mobile shopping is affecting eCommerce sales. The companies who will succeed will be the ones who are able to offer their site visitors a seamless and personalized user experience.

If you want to drive web traffic and increase eCommerce sales, you need to give people what they want. That's why you need an eCommerce strategy that fully captures the potential of your online market.

Stay ahead of your competitors and make your recommendations areas efficient with eCommerce personalization so each buyer finds what they want at the exact moment they are ready to purchase.

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