As the curtain dropped in 2022, many ecommerce brands sat amidst a tight landscape of competition, faced with growing economic concerns, demanding customers, and burnt out merchandising teams.
This year, improving ecommerce personalization strategies is a top priority, as 76% of customers report feeling frustrated when businesses show them things that aren’t relevant.
Let’s take a look at some of the top ecommerce personalization trends to watch that will benefit brands inside and out — from hitting business goals to relieving team workloads:
Brands Leverage Tech to Capitalize on Ecommerce Personalization Trends
Merchandising teams work long hours (not surprising, we know), with 48% claiming to work at least 5 hours more than their regular work schedule each week. And over half of merchandising employees report that their teams spend at least 20 hours per week on manual merchandising activities, on top of other responsibilities like email marketing, on-site search optimization, site content strategy, and more.
So how are today’s progressive brands managing merchandising’s widely varied — and often overwhelming — workload?
To help prevent burnout and promote overall efficiency, they’re leaning more on technology to automate redundant tasks that personalize the consumer shopping experience (think: managing inventory, optimizing category and search results, adding synonyms, etc.).
And not just any tech, but tech powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Yes, all AI-driven solutions are the crucial piece of the puzzle needed to provide teams with more time to focus on higher value strategic work. But the best ecommerce search engines streamline data analysis and automatically retrieve insights from your product discovery platform.
This allows merchandising teams to more easily identify trends and anticipate customer behavior, leading to better predictions and more informed decisions.b
Brands Prioritize Tools That Lead to Clear Profitability
The pandemic has taken ecommerce growth to new highs. Most consumers moved to online shopping, with no sign of slowing down. And many retailers followed suit, closing their brick-and-mortars and pumping big budget allocations into ecommerce.
Fast forward to today, and we’re currently in the midst of an ecommerce crunch, where merchandising departments aren’t being given free rein to allocate resources as they think best.
AI-driven product discovery tools leverage ML and natural language processing (NLP) to identify common variations in queries — such as misspellings and synonyms — and deliver attractive results that match shopper intent and interests. Data collected during shopper journeys and live sessions can then be used to personalize the browser experience and recommendations pods.
As an added plus, businesses can layer KPIs on top of these personalized search results, allowing them to capture conversions, drive revenue, and motivate customer loyalty. (Tech like this has proven to lead to double-digit growth in search conversion.)
AI-driven personalization is becoming increasingly more critical for businesses as they seek to stand out and stay ahead. (And that’s not even touching on the rise of ChatGPT, where businesses have a new opportunity to take ecommerce personalization and product search to a new level.)
The State of Ecommerce Search and Discovery 2023
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Brands Elevate the Customer Experience Using Big Data
Harnessing the power of on-site data will become increasingly more common for brands as they seek to boost their site personalization and get deeper insights into customer touchpoints.
Zero party data is data that a customer deliberately shares with a brand — via a product recommendation quiz, for example — in exchange for a better experience. The data includes shopping preferences, demographic information, or lifestyle criteria, which can all provide valuable insight into customer intent and whether they’re returned the right product.
First-party data, or clickstream data, is collected passively in real time as shoppers are searching, browsing Collections, etc. Like zero-party data, it can also be used to provide an elevated shopping experience and create trust and loyalty with customers.
The conglomeration of this big data also gives brands the opportunity to decide what’s the best experience for their customers and act from there. For example, maybe they see engagement doesn’t only happen online or in-store, yet it’s more fluid and omnichannel (like BOPIS).
These conclusions only happen when analyzing one’s own data, all while respecting consumers’ data privacy. Which leads us to our next point…
Brands Better Protect Shopper Privacy
Concerns around privacy mean dealing with customer data hasn’t always been easy, but ecommerce brands will find most of these challenges fall away when employing zero- and first-party data.
In the grand scheme of things, third-party cookies were a means to an end for brands looking to improve customer experience. While cookies enable an exceptional retail experience, they also complicate things.
The more customer data collected and shared with third parties, the more vulnerabilities you’re opening yourself up to with data leaks — and the more annoyed shoppers will get as their past history and search trends follow them around the web.
With the imminent death of third-party cookies, ecommerce businesses will have to start prioritizing the privacy of customer data. Thanks to zero- and first-party data, businesses can enter a cookieless world without dropping the ball and keep up with the latest ecommerce personalization trends.
Ecommerce Brands Go Composable As Personalization Trend
With dynamic market demands and customer expectations, ecommerce brands that recognize the need for composable technology stacks will be better suited to act proactively instead of reactively.
Composable commerce is a major change from the traditional “all-in-one” ecommerce platforms that do everything — and at the same time, nothing (except introducing a whole lot of technical debt and extra development work).
It’s future-fit technology that works by integrating microservices that communicate with each other through APIs. Since your back-end is divorced from your front-end, you can combine components — think: digital storefront, product discovery, inventory management, CRM, etc. — as you see fit to meet specific needs and scale business operations.
In other words, composable tech makes everyone’s life easier — including your customer’s.
As many ecommerce brands begin embracing composable MACH technologies (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless), they’ll place themselves at a competitive advantage, poised to take on reactive measures without having to turn the entire ship around, and more than ready to tap into the latest ecommerce personalization trends.
New Tools for a New Economy
The past few years have shown ecommerce brands that the competitive landscape is vast, and standing out requires some shifts in their usual approach to business. As customers demand a more relevant and engaging online shopping experience, ecommerce personalization no longer takes a backseat to other business priorities.
This year, online retailers should look to get ahead of the competition with the latest ecommerce personalization trends. Thanks to AI-driven technology and machine learning tools, succeeding in this new economy doesn’t have to be difficult.
The State of Ecommerce Product Search and Discovery 2023
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