Bizrate Insights Hot Topic Series: Ecommerce Website Mass Personalization

Why personalize the ecommerce shopping experience? According to studies*, personalization based on desired consumer value propositions yields higher conversion and loyalty rates – if done properly. So what does an online retailer need to do to achieve “properly”?

In Q1 2010, Bizrate Insights ran a Hot Topic study that took a look at mass personalization of ecommerce websites. Specifically, we looked at some commonplace practices to see if online buyers like them, if they meet their needs, and how retailers are doing against these needs overall. The good news is that 77% of online customers are satisfied with what exists – meaning that what they prefer or want what retailers are doing and executing on reasonably well. Read on to see what is important and where there is room for improvement….


Welcome Wagon vs. Anonymity

Most customers (58%) want or prefer the option of (perceived) anonymity. They would like to login prior to being recognized by name. Men, more than women, dislike being recognized prior to login.

Can you be trusted with saving my credit card?

Only one third of customers would answer “yes” to that question. Repeat customers land in the 40% range, nearly double the comfort level of first time buyers.

Buyers Preference On Saving Payment Information

Despite the fact that the majority of customers prefer not to have their credit card information saved, we see a trend among retailers toward saving this information in tandem with account creation. Unfortunately, we don’t also see direct messaging about this practice, requests for explicit customer consent, or intuitive and easy methods for opting out of saving this information while maintaining an account.

Personalizing my experience on your website

Generally, repeat customers and women prefer each of the common mass personalization options we asked about. Men, first time buyers, older customers, and customers with higher household incomes tended to be less interested. However men were most satisfied overall with what already exists.

Preferred Webstie Features

How this data can help retailers improve their websites

Ask yourself:

  • Who comprises my target audience? Look to your Bizrate Insights BizAdvisor reports for demographics in addition to your customer relationship management database for answers.
  • Do I offer the features that are most important to my target audience?
    • If not, then develop and test the most important features. Look for test results that yield higher conversion, repeat purchase, and satisfaction rates over time.
    • If so, then does your offering meet your customers’ needs and preferences? Or might you be eroding loyalty? Test new approaches to gathering, saving and displaying sensitive information, looking for results of higher conversion, repeat purchase, and satisfaction rates over time.

Ideas for consideration and testing:

  • Move recognition by customer name to after login.
  • Add an “automatic login” opt-in (not opt-out) offering to customers so that they are automatically logged in upon repeat visits.
  • Be clear on the type of login identifier your site uses – we sometimes see a request for a name or alphanumeric when the expected login identifier is the email address on the account.
  • When creating an account, message that billing and credit card information will be saved – along with the benefits of doing so.
  • Allow customers to opt-in and opt-out of saving credit card information (the most sensitive type of information) while maintaining an account.
    • Make the opt-out easy to locate from the account page and checkout, when most customers discover that their information has been saved.

About this Hot Topic:

Data was collected via Bizrate Insights’ surveys from over 103,300 online buyers immediately after purchase across retailers from every major product category from January 20, 2010 – April 15, 2010. Bizrate Insights provides free, independent surveys for retailers to utilize to gather actionable feedback from their customers. Free surveys are offered immediately after purchase (“point of sale”), after order receipt (“fulfillment”), and prior to purchase (“non-buyer”). Please contact us with any questions about this Hot Topic or any of our programs.

* Karat, Karat, Brodie, Vergo, and Alpert. (2003) “Personalizing the User Experience on” IBM Systems Journal. Also see Baynote case studies.