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Article by Sam Cinquegrani Published in Target Marketing

When executed effectively by e-commerce merchants, hyper-personalization offers a host of benefits. More effective individual targeting of customers boosts engagement, connects with shoppers’ needs and desires and allows retailers to offer the most effective promotions and deals possible. In turn, those elements translate to improved revenue and longer-lasting, more positive relationships with customers.

One major thematic advantage of hyper-personalization is creating an experience that more closely mirrors the one shoppers find in brick-and-mortar stores. Research from A.T. Kearney’s study “On Solid Ground: Brick-and-Mortar Is the Foundation of Omnichannel Retailing” showed 90 percent of all shopping is done in-store and 95 percent of shopping is done with retailers who have an existing online presence. Only 5 percent of all shopping occurs solely on the internet. To tap into this strong consumer sentiment and steer shoppers toward e-commerce, bridging the gap between physical and digital sales is critical.
The most pressing concern for many retailers is determining which methods of hyper-personalization are most effective and how they can help operations. Here’s a review of three of the most useful and powerful elements of hyper-personalization for e-commerce merchants:

1. More Targeted and Individualized Promotions and Offers

Enhanced features in e-commerce platforms are starting to make more hyper-personalized promotions and offers a reality for retailers. A growing ability to set rules that target small groups and individual customers based on past interactions and other assembled data means an increase in relevance. Businesses can target customers with different data on file in unique ways, and present useful offers to new visitors as well.

Relevance is a key term for both broad and specific marketing considerations, especially when it comes to promotions and offers. A customer can see hundreds or thousands of discounts and deals if they visit enough e-commerce merchants, but those offers mean little if they’re not relevant to some mix of a shopper’s interests, needs, and desires. Avoiding customer fatigue in this area is critical to increasing leverage and context, and avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach to promotions — a tactic that is less and less relevant as time goes on and more businesses start to hyper-personalize these efforts.

2. Expanding and Empowering Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs aren’t new by any means, but the ways in which e-commerce merchants use them are shifting and improving. Loyalty programs are a powerful source of valuable customer information, and extending rules-based logic and action to them means a more personalized and relevant experience for customers.

The data collected through loyalty programs means deeply individualized promotions are possible, and it’s just as important to know what not to offer to certain customers. Drawing on past purchasing history and other actions taken by customers, you can hyper-personalize the experience for them by avoiding promotions that are unappealing or otherwise unwanted. For example, offering a long-term, scheduled delivery or subscription deal with associated discounts on a regularly purchased item like coffee beans is appealing to many customers who habitually buy such a product. However, a customer wholly uninterested in a recurring purchase will only be discouraged or annoyed by this type of offer.

The wealth of information offered by loyalty programs doesn’t just help develop offers; it also offers greater overall hyper-personalized relevance through insights into preferences and dislikes.

3. Digital Shopping Assistants Offer More In-Store Experiences Online

Digital shopping assistants are a unique and relatively new entry in the e-commerce world. They offer a number of advantages to customers, like contact with a real person who’s knowledgeable about the store’s product offerings. This one-on-one form of contact helps bridge the gap between in-store and online shopping experiences — working with a digital shopping assistant is similar to having the dedicated help of an experienced employee during a visit to a store. Assistants can offer product recommendations and steer customers to relevant selections based on both their conversation and collected information from past visits. Taking this personal element of interaction and offering it outside of the store helps address one common reason why shoppers may avoid an e-commerce purchase in favor of physically visiting a store.

Digital shopping assistants help to further bridge that gap as they start to offer virtual reality and other efforts to accurately display 3-D models of merchandise — another common motivation for making an in-person store visit. Through closer digital contact with real, knowledgeable people and merchandise, digital shopping assistants address a vital aspect of hyper-personalization.

Your e-commerce channels have a growing level of potential to develop individual awareness of shoppers and hyper-personalize those interactions. The more information your systems can gather and the more awareness that can be developed, the better your ability to offer enticing, individualized promotions and develop truly targeted and lasting engagement.

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ObjectWave is a full-service provider of digital commerce solutions. He can be reached at samc@objectwave.com.