The anti-marketplace playbook: an era of curation and personalization

With the passing of time, personalization and curation have become sustainable moats for online business. Gone are the days, when people depended on a single marketplace channel to fulfill their needs. Today they have their own kitty filled with a lot of options where they can compare the prices as well as have a lot of varieties to choose from. Though marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart have been bastions for economic opportunities for the online brands with their ever-expanding distribution and logistics capabilities, yet the selling techniques used there are boring and conventional. These marketplaces are still stuck in the 90s whereas the other interfaces have already made a leap of faith. One such leap is eCommerce Personalization: it refers to the practice of creating personal interactions and experiences on eCommerce sites by dynamically showing content, media, or product recommendations based on browsing behavior, purchase history data, demographics, and psychographics. Although the concept is not as complex as its definition, instead it makes the shopping experience much much easier for the people around. Picture it like this: You are scrolling through the apparels section and you come across a dress. It is likely that you don’t know much about its fabric, its size, or whether it would suit your body. Though the price point is perfect, you get a lucrative deal and the image looks perfect. You place the order and it arrives the next day but you quickly realize that the fit is loose plus the fabric is sticky. And you keep on regretting the choice. 

This process sounds similar to all of us. The solution to this is very simple: personalization in shopping. Check out Bombay Shirt Company, here you land on their website and you’re prompted to fill a style quiz that captures your individual taste. The data points are then curated and you’re presented with a personalized feed as per your need and taste. Now think which would be a more convenient and time-saving technique of shopping. Moreover, every product offered on their website can be customized to your liking- be it the color, the fit, anything- you name it and they do it. These kinds of weapons in the D2C brands’ arena can put up a strong defense against the marketplace monoliths.

This was just one basic example, if we deep dive into this technology, we can find uncountable pearls. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is one such thing that tracks on-site and customer data points in real-time and then delivers a unique personalized experience to each site visitor. The personalized shopping strategy you employ will typically depend on the size of your customer base, the volume of sales your store generates, and also the tools you use to deploy personalization. There are various parameters to access the traffic segments like the traffic sources, geolocation/IP address, behavior, their choices, etc. Depending on the type of customer, the recommendations are made. Apart from this, another tool that is taking personalization to the next level is live video shopping. People no longer want to resort to texts and images for shopping, instead, they want to check out the product live and then make a purchase. Experiential eCommerce is all about making digital transactions more fun and more human for patrons purchasing behind their screens. Check out the Shopify brand, Limese. When you go out to shop for a suitable face cream, what all steps does it involve? You would first check out the various brands available with the merchant and shortlist 2-3 creams that match your price proposition. Secondly, if they have testers available, you would test them out on your skin and notice the effect. Ultimately, you would go for the one which suits your skin tone the most. But if you look at this entire process, it is time-consuming plus inconvenient. On the other hand, Limese brings this entire offline experience online. With the help of Baaz, they have enabled live video shopping on their website itself. Now, what does live video shopping mean here? Imagine purchasing products on a WhatsApp video call with the entire check-out experience there itself. The merchant (limese here) showcases the cosmetic products over a live video by applying it to their skin itself and you are able to choose the right product without visiting the store. Above that, they provide additional discounts on the products if purchased on the live video. Isn’t it simply amazing? No more walking down the lanes to search for the right product, wasting time in bargaining with the merchant and what not. Limese gives you the perfect personalized shopping experience from product to check out. 

The third and very effective way of personalization is to upsell the products to the consumers. If you’re not upselling to your customers, you’re missing out on a LOT of revenue. In marketing metrics, it is said that “The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.” In fact, along with upselling, cross-selling is also an important technique in personalization. Let us understand the difference between the two: Suppose you purchase a mobile phone and the merchant recommends a suitable cover and tempered glass for it. That is cross-selling. But if the same merchant recommends an upgraded version of the mobile phone, maybe with a higher RAM, that is upselling. Do you get the difference? But in both cases, the merchant is earning additional revenue from you through personalization. Here’s the great thing about upselling. It doesn’t just increase average order value; it also increases customer lifetime value. In other words, customers spend more while they remain customers. And that’s why it’s so important for the business. Check out Dollar Shave Club for the same. When you reach the site, a beautiful and highly optimized landing page offers two pricey, value-added options in addition to the expected “dollar shave.” This is how it persuades men to get an upgraded version of the product and makes an attractive promise to them. The perfect pitch for upselling is to remember that revenue is secondary and the customer experience is the priority. With a penny more, if you can provide them with a quality product, you have a loyal customer ready. 

eCommerce personalization tools increase sales, customer engagement, and customer loyalty. 45% of consumers say they are more likely to shop on an eCommerce site that offers personalization. Setting up a truly effective personalized eCommerce experience may be seen as a complex proposition involving lots of moving parts, but with the right set of tools at hand, it is much easier to achieve. Wishing the customers on their important days, providing them with exclusive discount coupons, sending them hyper-personalized emails, all these strategies are widely used by the companies to persuade customers to make a purchase. But these are pretty common. Nowadays, merchants are seeking new techniques to grab the consumers’ attention. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare and how the tortoise played it ‘safe’ to eventually win the race? Now is not that time. Going deep into designing personalized experiences can be an intimidating undertaking for any marketing manager, but when brands are slow to adopt, they fall behind and this ends up costing them.



Going shopping in the new world

Going shopping in the new world

A man shopping at a DVD store in New Delhi. As a child growing up in the 80s, I would listen to music on my cassette player or walkman. If neither...


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