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No doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic, in combination with WFH and 5G, will accelerate the digital transformation, not only for businesses but also for our personal lives as well. Did you notice that most of the top-tier e-commerce companies are having a hay day when it comes to sales during this crisis as we WFH and follow our stay at home orders? Their businesses are flourishing and their e-commerce sites have become even more important strategic assets going forward. One aspect that differentiates their e-commerce sites, as well as their sales prowess, is their attention to personalization. That is, tailoring the users’ experience to their personal preferences.

How do you personalize your customers’ experience?

Make it Easy to Login

Most users don’t want to create another account or remember another password, so you better offer them a social or commerce based login. This not only reduces cart abandonment but also facilitates more detailed user profiles for greater personalization. Via automated account creation, you can help a customer or user feel more at home by showing them their name within the site header or offering easy access to their account features. Easy Login capabilities can also enable more personalized browsing experiences and streamline the path to purchase.

Understand Your Customers’ Preferences

Leverage your customer’s preferences to improve their experience. If your customers are explicitly letting you know who they are, do more than show their name on the account screen. Personalize their experience with relevant links such as products they purchased before, recently viewed products, or related products that are cheaper, or better.

Deliver the Right Content on the Right Channel

The top three channels for consumers to engage with your organization are email, social media, and messaging apps.[1] When delivering personalized communication, you need to determine what drives behavior of what customers, and on what channel. Price conscious shoppers are always looking for ways to take advantage of a deal while others may be driven by recommended products that match their personal taste. What they want to receive on what channel can vary depending on what you’re offering.

Use Customized Messaging

No one wants to receive mass marketing messages. You can make your communications personal via business rules. Examples include a welcome series for new customers, or segmenting your customers’ shopping experience or communications by their preferred size or style. For example, if they abandoned their cart, send them a picture of what they left behind, or perhaps another complementary product pictured next to their abandoned product. Other more proactive emails to engage customers could include birthday discounts and even contextual triggers based on their location such as the weather. Determine what is unique about your product and how you can leverage your unique knowledge of your customer.

Develop Loyalty

You’ve all heard it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to acquire a new one in the first place. MCI had to learn that the hard way. The real work is understanding how to keep them coming back. That’s what loyalty programs can accomplish: make your customers feel special and exclusive. This tactic is common, so the challenge is how to stand out among your competitors? We all know Amazon Prime and their speedy shipping service, so what else can you offer? Should you have multiple loyalty tiers? When your customers connect with you after a purchase, whether they want help, want to make a return, or buy something else, it’s your chance to not only sell them more, but learn more about them.

Now the Hard Part: E-Commerce Testing

Personalization can take months and even years to get right depending on the complexity of your product offering, business rules, and customer information you collect and use. Analyzing behavioral data across channels, validating customer categories, determining user journeys, and predicting preferences is difficult and takes time, with trial and error along the way. The problem is that as your big data team is gathering and analyzing data, and your marketing team is implementing new strategies, your development team must deal with all the changes and trials. This presents significant software quality challenges for online retail testing:

  • Platform Compatibility: We all know that mobile device proliferation continues to be a problem. This problem is exacerbated by 5G which means that more and more users will be using their mobile device as their only device to access your e-commerce site. At the same time, more people WFH will mean that the desktop browser experience must be flawless as well. Make sure you understand what platforms your users are using to access your e-commerce site, and ensure they’ve been tested with each major release.
  • Business Rules: If you’re implementing some of the personalization elements to garner customer loyalty, you know that it’s all dependent on implementing what to do and when. This means business rules. Understanding when, where, and how business rules are implemented is a key element not only as a product manager, but as part of your entire development effort.
  • Accelerating Change: With so many pieces and parts, there is bound to be a code change that goes unnoticed with accompanying problems. Don’t get caught not knowing what happened. Keep your continuous development pipeline going with check-ins that reject anything that breaks.
  • 3rd party plug-in integrations: You’ll no doubt be using 3rd party modules to accelerate your delivery. Understanding how each module is dependent on other modules with their input/output, ranges and rules is critical to avoiding issues with payment gateways and loyalty plug-ins.
  • Security and performance: As you begin to collect data about your customers, it not only becomes valuable for you, but becomes gold for others as well. Keep your house safe from intrusion with periodic penetration testing and vulnerability assessments. Additionally, with all your integrations, and new features, make sure that your ecommerce-site maintains its performance. Develop benchmarks with each release and with each new version of 3rd party software you’re using. You don’t want to get bogged down without knowing why.
  • Privacy: Last but not least; Internet Privacy is a topic of great concern on the internet. There is no single law regulating online privacy. Instead, a patchwork of federal and state laws applies. A case in point is the CCPA compliance law recently passed in California. While e-commerce sites want to collect what they can about their users, consumers generally want to share as little as possible. In personalizing your customers’ online experience, it’s critical to employ usability methods that develop trust along with privacy policies that are mindful of your customers while balancing your efforts to personalize their experience.

Being successful with your e-commerce personalization efforts will be an iterative process. The only problem is that while you’re learning and iterating, you can’t afford poor quality and a bad user experience which drives your users away. That’s why, as you invest in your e-commerce personalization efforts, it makes sense to pay attention to software quality and put in the time and effort to ensure your users keep coming back.

To find out how XBOSoft can help you with ecommerce testing and achieve superior quality for your e-commerce website, contact us today!

[1] McKinsey, Study: The art of personalization— Keeping it relevant, timely and contextual, April 2019