The Dying Breath of ‘You May Also Like’
As the debate goes on as to whether brick-and-mortar stores must also have an online presence if they want to compete in today's digital world, there's one area where traditional brick-and-mortar stores retain an advantage over digital: customer engagement and experience.
We've all had that in-store experience, the one that makes us so loyal as to never even consider the competition. The perfect retail salesperson who takes the time to get to truly know their customers, has an encyclopedic knowledge of the products, and combines the two in a perfect match creating a curated, personalized experience.
The impersonal and often anonymous nature of the internet puts e-commerce stores at a disadvantage when compared to connecting with customers and reaching a level of engagement like that of the perfect in-store experience. In general, online retailers rely on photography and merchandising to provide consumers with choices and convenience. However, as the e-commerce channel evolves, it's becoming possible for online retailers to leverage the piles of data available to personalize their digital stores in a way that creates unique and personalized experiences for every customer. This is an advantage that brick-and-mortar retail doesn't have; physical stores can't be rearranged and customized for every customer, but a website can.
Putting customers first and personalizing web experiences around their preferences represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of digital engagement. Online retailers looking for sustainable competitive advantage should move away from the traditional product-centric model that dominates the digital space to create meaningful customer-focused experiences. By placing focus on the customer and personalizing each customer's experience based on the unique characteristics of that customer, e-commerce retailers can differentiate themselves by prescribing personalized solutions for customers based on the information that they now have readily available.
Effective prescriptive personalization is reliant upon five key elements: