July 29, 2010, 8:57 AM

More merchants plan to personalize

52% of retailers say they plan to add customized content to boost site performance.

Lead Photo

Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group

Personalization is becoming far more common on retailers’ web sites as merchants seek to bolster their bottom line with upsells and cross-sells, according to a new report and survey from personalization technology vendor MyBuys Inc. and research firm The E-tailing Group Inc.

The report found that 42% of merchants say they provide some personalization, 26% say their post-order e-mails are sent based on consumers' previous purchases, 25% say their site greets returning consumers by name and 18% say their site recommends products based on past customer purchases. Each of those features are set to rise, as 34% say they plan to add personalization this year. Moreover, 52% of merchants say they plan to pursue personalization initiatives to improve their sites’ performance, up 26.8% from 41% in 2009.

The reason more retailers are offering consumers a personalized shopping experience is that consumers expect a more customized online shopping experience, says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group. “The expectation is that each year online retailers’ content will be more relevant,” she says. “So merchants are forced to up the ante because consumers already see that type of personalized content on Amazon.”

But it’s not all about meeting consumer expectations, it’s also about increased revenue, says Freedman. “As retailers look to grow their business, one of the quickest ways to do so is to increase their average order volume,” she says. “This is one way to do that.”

The survey found that retailers’ e-mails are increasingly tailored to the individual consumer. 26% of retailers said they send post-order e-mails based on individual consumers’ purchases, up 13% from 23% in 2009. And 22% of retailers said their general marketing e-mails were personalized based on consumer behavior, up nearly 38% from 16% in 2009.

 “Even if you’re only picking up X percentage with a customized e-mail, that can still be valuable,” says Freedman. “To me, I’d never turn down a potential sale, so why not populate your e-mails with personalized information?”

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