The personalization imperative for e-commerce success


December 20, 2019

Personalization means connecting with buyers across all channels with relevant content. Can you do this effectively today?

Personalization is what makes your brand and your products stand out to shoppers. Consumer expectations have risen so high that simply offering products that meet their needs isn’t enough to boost conversions. Your marketing (product content) matters more than ever. And if you want to stand out from the competition, personalization has to be one of your biggest priorities in 2020 for e-commerce success.

Studies continually show that personalization is necessary to meet consumer expectations. One says that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations. According to another, 80% of “frequent shoppers” only shop with brands who personalize their experience. And yet another points out the consequences of falling short means that 47% of consumers will go to Amazon if a specific brand doesn’t provide personalized product suggestions. Ouch. 

Unfortunately, personalizing e-commerce experiences is easier said than done. Nearly 60% of consumers say they’ve experienced brands using outdated information about them and 57% say companies have gotten their personal details wrong. But personalization isn’t impossible if you can overcome a few primary challenges and lay a foundation for ongoing success.

3 Barriers to E-Commerce personalization

“Done right, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want.”Brian Gregg, McKinsey Digital

Personalization is often called the holy grail of marketing for a reason. The path to success is difficult but the results are worth it. Knowing the challenges you’re up against is the first step to streamlining that path and finding ways to meet consumer expectations.

While there are many potential barriers to e-commerce personalization, the following three are common issues that you’ll have to overcome.

1. The wrong technology

There’s no single piece of technology that will make personalization possible. It takes a variety of tools to deliver the kinds of experiences consumers have come to expect whether it is in B2B or B2C. All buyers want a personalized experience, don’t they?

But if you’re just layering new technologies on top of outdated solutions, you end up with a complicated mess of tools that can’t adapt quickly to customer needs.

For example, Excel spreadsheets may have worked for managing product information in traditional retail. However, trying to manage hundreds of products across multiple channels in Excel while also support personalization efforts is almost impossible. It take the right solution.

2. Dirty and disorganized data

The core building block of any personalization initiative is data. Without the right data at hand, you risk providing outdated offers and experiences that ultimately push customers to your competitors.

In recent years, e-commerce brands have become data collection powerhouses. The only problem is that massive volumes of data remain disorganized and inaccurate. Effective personalization requires centralized access to data that is aggregated seamlessly from all of your different systems and channels. Otherwise, it’s a mess and impossible to leverage effectively.

Dirty data and data storage
Dirty and disorganized data

3. Lack of focus on Product Information

Most conversations about personalization revolve around making customer data more actionable. And while this is an essential piece of the personalization puzzle, it’s important not to forget about the importance of product information.

When personalizing e-commerce experiences on your website, you need product descriptions and guided selling features that are capable of addressing individual customers for a frictionless path to purchase. Without the means to update product information quickly and efficiently, you risk missing out on personalization opportunities and delivering a poor customer experience.

Product Information Management supports last-mile personalization

As marketers, we’ve come to excel at a few key stages of personalization. We’re better than ever at listening to what individual customers want, need, and expect from our experiences. We’re more capable than ever at analyzing data to predict customer behavior in real-time. And we’ve built out our abilities to optimize content across e-digital experiences.

What we haven’t quite figured out is the last mile of personalization, where the experience is delivered in the exact right context to drive conversions. This is where having a product information management (PIM) system in place can help.

By providing greater control of product information creation and delivery, PIM systems ensure you can tell stories more consistently and efficiently across your many e-commerce channels. Not only that, but PIM provides more granular control over the flow of product information, which enables you to deliver the right descriptions to the right customers at the right times. It’s the machine for real-time product storytelling where it matters most—the moment a customer is considering a purchase.

The practice of product information management is nothing new to e-commerce and manufacturing brands. However, when you introduce new challenges like personalization and the need for global scale or syndication, traditional approaches aren’t able to help you meet consumer expectations.

With the right processes and technologies in place, product content can become a key asset in your personalization efforts.


Lisa Quinn

Director of Product Marketing

As our product marketing director, Lisa is a product evangelist for all things inriver. From launching new products and services to managing our analyst relationships, she is talented in cultivating key stakeholder relationships and product stories that matter. She has been working in the European market for over 15 years.