Nov 28, 20187 min read

Personalisation: 5 Scary Examples and One Great One.

Kristian Borglund headshot

by Kristian Borglund

Don’t mess up your personalisation tactics. Here are a few examples of where it went wrong – and one personalisation strategy that leading online retailers are leveraging to transform the e-commerce shopping experience.

Personalisation is essential for any e-commerce business wanting to succeed and grow.

44 percent of consumers say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalised shopping experience with a particular company, according to research from Segment. And 40 percent say that personalised experiences have caused them to buy more than originally planned.

Expectations shift too. Today many customers want their personal digital experiences to mirror the typical level of personalisation they receive offline – or even better, to exceed that experience.

But while consumers have grown to expect tailored shopping experiences, there is indeed a right and wrong way to approach personalisation.

As great as personalisation can be for your business, it has the potential to be equally as harmful. Here are five ways it can go wrong:




Being too pushy


And, of course, there’s the one we have all experienced: The creepiness of ads following us along everywhere after we have searched for a product – in some cases just seconds after we’ve made the purchase.

The fine line between personalisation and creepiness

In one study, 75% of shoppers thought it would be taking it too far if facial recognition software were to identify them as soon as they entered the store in order to present them with customised offers. They said the same about having a staff member they don’t know at all greet them by their first name, based on data insights.

Your personalisation should be smooth and natural, rather than being reminiscent of this movie from the 90’s.

According to a study by InMoment titled “2018 CX Trends Report”, 22 percent would look around for other brands if they found a particular company’s personalisation a bit creepy. 9 percent said they would write negative reviews on the internet.

So what should you do?

As an e-commerce business you should, of course, be smart about personalisation, and also personalise your own strategy in your own way based upon what who you are, what you offer and what you know about the unique characteristics of your customers.

One strategy on the rise, which we will focus on now, is to leverage visitor data in real time to transform the entire shopping experience for each individual customer. As new visitors interact with the webstore for the first time it tracks their behaviour in real time and understands what they want – based on both that behaviour and historical data.

Isaac Moshe, CMO at e-commerce personalisation solution Nosto, explains how their AI engine works:

“Our engine sits at the heart of the retailer’s technology stack, analyzing the behaviour of every individual interacting with their store to build a deep understanding of their business and those visitors interacting with it.”

The shopping experience is tailored to every specific person who visits the webstore – from what products are displayed and what content surfaces, to the logos on the site, to the banner and even navigation. It’s all based on AI-powered data. Pages are updated dynamically during that same session to deliver the most relevant shopping experience possible.

What it looks like

First, here’s what a random sports webshop would look like without the personalisation:

But if the engine understands you are a yoga enthusiast, for example, you might see this:

In this case, the navigation bar has changed to focus on categories like “Yoga”, “Fitness”, “Pilates” and “Nutrition”. And product recommendations are personalised so that they include top sellers for a typical customer with these interests. The videos, curated blog posts and banners are also personalised.

What happens if the engine instead concludes that you are a person who is passionate about outdoor activities? Well, look here:

The navigation bar now shows the categories “Hiking”, “Climbing”, “Kayaking” and “Camping”. And product recommendations, videos, curated blog posts and banners are completely tailored to capture that particular visitor’s interest.

This is similar to how Netflix uses AI to adjust the cover art of their movies and tv series. The streaming giant’s algorithm calculates which cover picture is most likely to encourage you to watch based on your assumed thematic and actor preferences. For example, the movie “Good Will Hunting” has one cover for people who are into comedies (this version displays Robin Williams in a big smiling pose) and another for people who are more into romantic movies (picturing Matt Damon and Minnie Driver in an intimate scene).

Another example is Sleepo. To see how the experience changes after a customer have indicated an interest in beds, go visit the page, click on ‘beds’, and a bed related item, then go back “home”. You’ll see that the entire experience is now tailored to your quest for a new bed.

So how does kind of personalisation affect a business’s bottom line?

The potential of real-time onsite personalisation

When Function 18  – a specialist golf apparel store selling products from the biggest global sports brands – implemented real-time personalisation, they noticed these improvements:

  • 133 percent higher average conversion rate.
  • 18 percent higher average order value.
  • Shoppers spent 87 percent longer onsite.

“The impact of full personalisation isn’t just a more relevant and engaging shopping experience for people interacting with your brand; it increases in conversion, order values and customer lifetime value for the retailer,” says Isaac Moshe.

The key is to leverage the data you’ve gathered on your customers – and action that data in real time – to increase relevance for every visitor and shopper, to grow your business.