In today’s highly competitive and ubiquitous ecommerce environment, offering a fresh and personalized experience is more critical than ever. Factoring in the customer’s past, present, and future into the how, what, when, where, and why is creating deep personalization, and people are getting used to it.
We have all heard terms like faceted search, faceted navigation, type-ahead, autocomplete, recommended products, recent searches, and related searches. These tools are being leveraged to their fullest technical extent in some cases, but how personally and how timely? The idea of “Searchandising” is the merging of all of these techniques whilst incorporating user data in order to create a seamless, personalized, unique, and highly profitable customer experience. Drawing upon analytics data, these tools need to be leveraged both seamlessly and personally to create the most custom experience possible.
In the old days of brick and mortar retail, local shop owners knew their customers very well and in many cases were able to anticipate what they needed, often times even before they needed it. Their intimate knowledge of their customer’s needs and environment produced a great personalized experience each time a customer walked into their local retailer. The deep understanding of their customers helped create deep customer loyalty. The B2C relationship was worth its weight in gold.
With the explosion of nationwide franchised businesses and their migration to the internet, most of this personal touch was initially lost. Customers no longer felt special, their specific needs and interests were simply part of a larger fold of many customers doing the same kind of shopping. This cold shoulder distanced many retailers from its customers and severely damaged the B2C relationship. While customers appreciate the depth and breadth of content and products available to them, very few are willing to do the leg work to sort through it all.
As technology and its reach have improved, we are essentially coming full circle by creating the ability to reestablish that precious B2C relationship digitally. Personalized search results, sharply tuned recommender engines, and even intelligent agents have begun to recreate that personal touch that was once a hallmark of successful businesses in the local brick and mortar days. People are treated to personalized content, personalized search results, unique product recommendations, and even custom landing pages on ecommerce storefronts. Their search history, buying history, and browsing history are all being integrated. In addition to past data, current real-time data is also being integrated like location, device, even the time of day. The race is on to serve up the most personalized content and products at the right time and place, and the winner will not only get the sale, but likely gain a loyal customer.
Search and browse has gone way beyond being a technical component of marketing. It has become marketing itself, as Searchandising. The way content and products are being personally promoted is the fundamental kingpin of today’s ecommerce environment.