February 1, 2017
Ecommerce is on the verge of a paradigm shift. For the better part of the last decade brands have focused their efforts to create a site experience that is pretty good for everyone. Some brands have even tried to create specific experiences for certain groups of customers. Unfortunately, in most cases the generic experience and even the more tailored experience, has failed to hit the mark.
Many brands have made significant investments in time and effort to create a better experience for their visitors, and have been disappointed with flat to declining business results.
I think what brands are finally starting to realize is the fact that the “one size fits all,” or a “few sizes fit most,” is more like one size fits no one.
Now no one would say segmentation is a bad thing. The brands that have taken the time to deliver segmented experiences are on the right track. The problem with scaling segmentation is the fact that it is often one dimensional. It doesn’t take into consideration context or intent when it matters most during the experience. For example, a VIP customer comes to your site to shop for a friend. Your segmentation rules will look at this person and identify that this visitor is a VIP, they require the VIP experience. However, that method could completely fall flat because the intent of this visit has very little to do with VIP status. Given the intent of this visitor, who is shopping for a friend, your strategy should entail helping this individual find the right product in a category that he or she has very little familiarity with.
That simple scenario demonstrates why solving this through manually created rules is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. People are much more complex and every journey is unique. The marketer needs a more powerful tool set that can react to the in the moment behavior and at the same time, balance that information with historical context to deliver what’s right for your customer.
This does not mean segmentation and persona development has no value. It is actually the foundation that the next generation of ecommerce experiences is built on. Your segments and personas provide the inspiration for the experiences you need to create. Historically, we have created experiences that try to do a decent job of considering diverse customer needs. Instead of focusing on the areas of overlap, the next generation of experiences will focus on the opposite end of the spectrum, where the needs are furthest apart.
The next wave of ecommerce innovation will focus on enabling truly personal experiences. A great way to think of it is to consider your most diverse customer groups. Put those groups at either end of a spectrum, then think about all of the people in between. Personalization is about everyone in between.
This shift in focus will have a tremendous impact on how brands create and manage ecommerce experiences. It’s not uncommon for teams to spend hours each week arguing over the perfect homepage hero image. Instead of arguing over a single image, the exercise will transform into asking each other “how does this group of images represent all of the affinities of our customers?” The creative process will be profoundly changed. Brands that start making this fundamental shift will leapfrog the competition and see both, short-term business impact, as well as growth in long term customer value.
Are you ready for this ecommerce shift?