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One of the limiting factors for e-retailers who have not deployed site personalization is a shortage of detailed data on customers. At PetsUnited LLC, personalization is on the agenda, but the company needs more customer data, says CEO Alex Tabibi. “We are going to allow people to personalize certain spaces and pages, but right now there’s not enough information other than for very superficial things,” he says.
PetsUnited, which operates Dog.com, Horse.com and Bird.com, has data on customer purchases and products they have viewed, “but those don’t give more than a fleeting glance of what the client’s true needs are,” Tabibi says. Among the additional data the company plans to gather are number of dogs, breeds, ages and birthdates.
A history lesson
Customer history is important for other retailers as well, but in some cases the marketplace is dictating the timetable for site personalization. For example, Infinity Resources Inc., parent of DeepDiscountDVD.com and DeepDiscountCD.com, is keeping it simple and focusing on combining the sites into DeepDiscount.com and adding books and video games, says David Barker, vice president, e-commerce marketing.
“As we gain more history we may change things to show more relevant products to our past customers,” he says. “But as we combine product lines, we want to see the mix. We know how they shop for DVDs and CDs, but the rest is unknown.”
For many e-retailers, how customers respond to merchandising techniques is largely unknown. But with more sophisticated technology like web site personalization tools, that mystery soon could be cleared up.