[Forbes] Driving E-Commerce Growth With Website Personalization

Jun 22, 2022

As the bulk of shoppers moved to online shopping—with online spending in the U.S. growing by at least $108 billion since 2020—the expectations from consumers have grown steeper. As the growth of e-commerce continues, your mantra should be simple: Personalize or don’t survive.

What Is Web Personalization?

Personalization is the process of creating delightful experiences tailored to the customers visiting your web store. Like when you walk into a retail store to be greeted by a salesperson to assist you in shopping, website personalization creates that personable experience online.

Why Personalize?

Personalization directly impacts consumers’ shopping experiences and, in turn, sales. It doesn’t stop there; shoppers are more likely to revisit your web store for repurchases when done well. McKinsey reports that 71% of users expect personalization and 73% are disappointed when the shopping experience is suboptimal. Particularly, digitally native companies reported 40% more revenue through personalized marketing tactics.

I have developed and led website personalization for large companies like Samsung. Based on my firsthand experience, I have seen what works and what consumers have come to expect.

What Do Consumers Expect?

Personalization is abstract. But overall, the best experiences are the ones that are relevant and feel natural. Here are a few ideas:

Remember their preferences. The best salespeople remember the regulars. Make sure users on your site can create accounts and then use their information like gender, clothing size and location to help customize the experience. Make sure to save carts and reorder the navigation menu if needed.

Help them decide. Reinforce the decision for the customer and close the sale soon. Use language like “continue looking for …” to ease them back in the journey. Show information, galleries and reviews of the product. Provide recommendations based on business seasonality and customer geography.

Show them more options. Recommend products based on prior shopping or viewing experiences. Common terms include “people who viewed this also bought ...”

Surprise and delight your customer. Who doesn’t like a little surprise? You can create surprises by providing a discount to create an account or shop for the first time on your site. You can also sweeten the deal with an exclusive time-bound offer. Lastly, make sure to provide a consistent omnichannel experience for shoppers.

Two examples of personalization that worked particularly well when I implemented them include:

1. Device comparison: Highlight specific new features of the latest phone in comparison with the one your visitor is browsing your website from.

2. Product recommendations: Improve the discoverability of products based on user preferences.

Challenges With Personalization

Unified Data. Your personalization is only as good as the data. Collecting and combining data from disparate sources is often the first challenge to solve. Having a single source of truth is crucial for delivering an omnichannel experience. As you turn to more sophisticated experiences, you will run into other data challenges like segmenting users and creating algorithms.

Scalable Systems. Personalization gets messy quickly, and getting all the possible combinations of recommendations, product images, messaging and other features can be difficult. The marketing tech stack should integrate seamlessly to enable personalized experiences. Investing in the right technology stack can save engineering bandwidth and reduce the time and effort needed to deploy these experiences. The right tools can also automate repeatable tasks.

Scalable Processes. Large companies are plagued with organizational silos. Personalization is a critical growth problem that can unlock massive potential. This requires circumventing the legacy processes, particularly ones that need manual intervention like creating content, copywriting, etc. Getting buy-in from cross-organization teams and having dedicated resources to scale the operations is one challenge less to solve.

Data Privacy. Draw the line between personal and creepy. Great experiences are crafted skillfully. Customers are willing to share more data to get a better experience. And while many companies continue to rely on third-party cookies, the future is first-party data, and companies have until 2023 to prepare for the cookieless world. Privacy and personalization go hand in hand; customers are more willing to shop with trustworthy and transparent brands, and brands must invest in good practices to keep up with this expectation.

Data is the first and foremost challenge to be solved by growth marketers looking to enable personalization. To mitigate, teams can start with more straightforward approaches to test the waters.

Getting Started With Data

Here’s a breakdown of different data types to get started with the personalization of your e-commerce brand.

Real-Time Data

Leverage data that is available when a user lands on your website like:

  • Geography.

  • Time of day/year.

  • User-agent: Device, browser and operating system.

In-Session Behavior

Leverage user behavior in the current browsing session including:

  • Pages browsed.

  • User acquisition: Marketing channel, referrer and campaign.

  • Time spent on pages.

Offline/CRM Data

Connect with the data warehouse to leverage customer information from other sources:

  • Shopping history.

  • Account information.

  • Predictive data model outputs for user or segment.


As e-commerce grows, consumers will likely be drawn to simple, smooth and delightful experiences. A lack of personalization will impact your customer’s loyalty and your revenue. It is no longer an option; it is table stakes for growth.


This article was originally published on Forbes.com