September 10, 2019
3 min read time

Personalization in e-commerce: High-performance hyper-relevance


Consulting firm Accenture has been discussing the importance of hyper-relevance in e-commerce and across online experiences. What is hyper-relevance? Essentially, it’s argued that we are moving beyond an age of personalization toward a more contextual and individual online (and in this case, shopping) experience. That is, personalization has not always performed well historically, whether because the company in question has the wrong or not enough information about the individual consumer to make personalization truly personal - or because the infrastructure powering sites that employ personalization has failed to deliver when the stakes were high. 

Relevant personalization - at the cost of performance?

Where Varnish comes into the picture is in the latter part of that equation: what if you’ve got the data consumer data right and can deliver relevant personalization but can’t actually deliver the content because your site performance is lagging? Clearly this is as big a problem (if not bigger) as getting personalization wrong. 

Personalization itself is challenging, thanks to the balance between privacy and security and how much data you are able to access and use, but none of it matters if the underlying technology meant to reach the consumer at the right time with the right message or product breaks down. The consumer is already gone if, for example, your page takes too long to load thanks to an overload of third-party software slowing movement down, or not quite getting things sorted in real time. How are you - and your relationship with your customers - being affected by the delivery speed of dynamic content? We have asked the question before - do you decide to go personal or to go slow? Is there a happy medium where personalization and performance can live in harmony?

Solving for the personalization-performance puzzle

Within the competitive e-commerce space, many caching solutions purport to have solved this problem, but most of them have required changes to the e-commerce platform itself and aren’t simply out-of-the-box fixes. 

Varnish Software offers three solutions that specifically address dynamic content performance (apart from the standard Varnish offerings that address performance, availability, and security in high-traffic, high-performance situations).

  • Varnish E-Commerce Accelerator: Built with Magento e-commerce sites in mind but adaptable for other platforms, the Varnish E-Commerce Accelerator changes the game, making previously uncacheable, personalized content cacheable. We’ve written a lot about this in the past - you can read more here to learn about the details. But the bottom line is - with the Accelerator, your e-commerce platform benefits from these immediate and significant performance improvements simply by using Varnish for your caching. The acceleration component is built right into the caching software - and that’s going to live in front of your e-commerce software anyway. It’s that easy.
  • Edgestash: Edgestash lets you use your edge for heavy lifting. It’s a Mustache-based, JSON-driven templating language that reduces the page-load process down to tens of milliseconds - up to 100x faster than JavaScript frameworks. Edgestash targets slow-performing mobile websites in particular - which is key for the kinds of sites (like e-commerce) that rely on delivering user-customized responses as fast as possible.
  • Parallel ESI: Making pages more responsive as well as personalized on the fly - and fast - is a dream scenario, and parallel ESI gets you a few steps closer to that no-latency reality. Page assembly happens up to 75% faster, especially enhancing mobile user experiences. 

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you balance your personalization and performance challenges.


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