TECHNOLOGY

Study: Online shoppers want a personalized experience

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Digital shoppers expect a personalized retail experience, a demand that’s forcing retailers to step up their engagement strategies for the holidays.

Specifically, 83% of customers expect a personalized retail experience — something that retailers should keep in mind with the holiday season mere weeks away from commencing, according to the “NectarOM Marketing Personalization Survey.”

According to the study, “personalized recommendations” and other digital technologies can more effectively guide customers toward making gift purchases this holiday season. A majority of retailers (88%) agree, adding that personalization is a top priority to meet evolving customer expectations.

This is good news for the 83% of customers who expect a personalized retail experience – in store, in app and long after they leave the store. However, only 44% of marketers have allocated sufficient budget and resources to implementing a personalized technology solution, according to the study.

Marketers are clearly still at the beginning of their personalization journey, as a mere 11% have fully implemented a technology solution. However, 33% are executing a proof of concept, and another 33% indicated personalization will be an initiative for 2018.

“The personalization expectations of customers continue to evolve,” said NectarOM CEO and founder, Amrit Kirpalani. “This survey reinforces that a personalized experience is essential to winning the hearts and minds of customers.”

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Online giant pushes up ‘Black Friday’ deals — to Nov. 1

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is getting a jump on the holiday season by launching a curated sales site — and a new AR tool to snag deals.

The online giant has officially started its holiday season with the opening of its “Black Friday Store.” The micro site, which launched on Wednesday, Nov. 1, is a centralized location that features holiday deals across all categories.

More than 100 million items are featured and eligible for free shipping, as well as up to 30% savings. The deals will be available until Black Friday, Nov. 24.

With more than 70% of Amazon customers worldwide using a mobile device to shop on Amazon last holiday season, the online retailer took steps to make it easier to make mobile purchases this year. Specifically, Amazon launched of its new augmented reality service called “AR view.” The feature is available inside the Amazon App used on iPhone 6S or newer iOS devices.

Using Apple’s ARKit, AR view allows customers to visualize merchandise within their own living space — but products are not just limited to furniture and decor. Rather, customers can virtually position thousands of items across categories including living room, bedroom, kitchen and home office products to electronics, toys and games, home décor, among others.

Here’s how it works: Customers launch the Amazon App, click on the camera icon and choose AR view. They can then select an item, and overlay it onto their existing living space. Using their camera, they can view the merchandise, move it and rotate it 360 degrees.

Amazon also plans to leverage its fleet of Treasure Trucks this holiday season. Customers can opt-in to receive notifications from the Amazon App for special Treasure Truck offers, order the item, and pick-up at the truck throughout the shopping season. Treasure Truck is now available in 25 select cities.

Shoppers that need additional inspiration can also access Amazon’s library of curated gift guides, including ones for toys, electronics and home. The newest is a Business Gift Guide, a curated list of more than 200 items designed for gifting office employees, company clients and colleagues.

Throughout the holiday season, Amazon will continue to enable customers to voice shop with Alexa. In addition to giving customers access to “tens of millions” of Prime-eligible items, many of these products will also be available in the Black Friday Deals Store and the retailer’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guides.

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eBay kicks off holidays with early deals

BY Marianne Wilson

eBay is putting a new twist on the notion of “last minute” shopping.

The online retailer on Wednesday launched “First Minute” deals, citing its new survey which found that 45% of Americans start holiday shopping well before Black Friday. The promotion, which runs through Nov. 9, offers 30% to 60% off regular prices depending on the item.

“We found that choice and convenience are the biggest reasons shoppers start sooner in the season, so we designed a collection of competitive early deals to offer their pick of top brands across electronics, toys, apparel and more,” said Suzy Deering, chief marketing officer of eBay North America.

In addition, the retailer has launched a Guaranteed Delivery program, with more than 20 million items arriving in three days or less. And eBay’s enhanced browsing experience, which uses artificial intelligence, will customize holiday shopping and present curated products by style, activity or obsession

“We’re continuously enhancing our marketplace with new, intuitive features and services that give eBay shoppers a tailored experience with the power of fast, free shipping on millions of items in our marketplace, whether they’re shopping on desktop, mobile, or on the eBay app,” said Scott Cutler, senior VP of eBay Americas.

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