Personalization – The Holy Grail for Comparison Shoppers

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In the online retail game, there is one customer segment that is simultaneously one of the most lucrative, and also most frustrating to convert – savvy comparison shoppers.  Successfully tap into this well, and the e-commerce world is your oyster. 

According to Statista e-commerce trends, 36% of consumers spend 30+ minutes comparison shopping before making a decision on purchasing a commodity product. Over 65% of shoppers spend 16+ minutes surfing different sites before making a purchase. Unlike brick-and-mortar shopping, this due diligence isn’t spent in the aisle of one business.  

Much of this time is spent using comparison shopping engines, checking reviews, looking at Amazon, looking for coupon codes, using browser extensions such as PriceBlink or Buy Happy, or worst case scenario, spent browsing your direct competition. Almost half of all online shoppers read reviews and blogs before making a purchase.  

Frustratingly, even after spending 30 minutes reading reviews and finding the best price, and finally adding a product to the shopping cart, the purchase is abandoned 88% of the time! 

This means that the average online shopper is exposed to more competition than an individual who has taken time to visit a brick and mortar store. You should feel pretty confident that most of your shoppers don’t have any sort of loyalty towards your store.

What does this all mean? 

The obvious answer is that convincing an online shopper to complete a purchase is a difficult task.  What is less obvious is how to effectively convert that savvy online shopper – at scale. 

In a landscape filled with thousands of midsized retailers and a handful of e-commerce titans, the easiest way to provide an online shopper with a fantastic experience is to make it personal. 

Personalizing a shopping experience is quickly becoming one of the only ways to separate yourself from the crowded field.  Here are 3 areas that are ripe for personalization. 

Many stores focus on their products instead of focusing on the customer.  Data technologies, available to and affordable for even the smallest of retailers, can power a curated product set that the shopper wants to see and therefore is more likely to purchase. Many stores, like, have a style profile system that allows the customer to let the retailer know exactly what sort of tastes they have.  These data driven systems allow retailers to deliver a personalized and more effective experience to their shoppers.

Personalized pricing is a new trend that is taking e-commerce by storm. Companies are flocking to two types of platforms: personalized pricing (price negotiation) and dynamic pricing.  

Personalized pricing platforms can be considered price negotiation platforms. Companies such as PriceWaiter are bringing the functionality made famous by sites like Priceline and eBay to retailers across the web. By allowing shoppers to have a say in the pricing that they are receiving, retailers can play into shopper psychology and make them feel like they are “winning”.  In the end, retailers retain control, but the psychological play is powerful. 

Dynamic pricing platforms such as 360pi use data to help deliver a price unique to different shoppers.  Variables such as geography, demographics, computer type, browser type, time of day, weather, and seasonality all play into the final price that is delivered on the product page. 

Both systems are powerful and should be considered by retailers looking for new ways to provide a personalized experience on their ecommerce product pages. 

Personalization shouldn’t be isolated to just the e-commerce browsing experience.  A truly effective approach will include external touchpoints such as email marketing. Sending a generic email blast to a singular list is a technique of the past and no longer effective.  Thorough segmentation is now a must.  Hubspot is a great example of a company with extremely effective email segmentation tools.

The key is to minimize the time a shopper has to spend looking for the product they want. Effort on the front end to build thorough and segmented email lists will be more efficient in the long run, because a shopper receiving info on a product for which they expressed some sort of intent is much more likely to convert.  

A general rule is that you should apply the same principles that you do for remarketing lists to your email lists.  The smaller and more segmented, the better. 

We spoke with Bijan Dhanani of PriceWaiter to ask him his take on e-commerce personalization.  “All too often, retailers’ primary focus is their store, product lines, and sales promotions. Our goal is to help retailers focus on the customer first; providing them the most unique and personalized shopping experience possible.  Once e-commerce managers have the personalized experience a-ha moment, it is amazing to see them think creatively on how to provide it. The conversion rate boosts that follow make it all worth it.” 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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