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.
Every year around this time, companies start to tell (or be told) cautionary tales about the e-commerce ghosts of Black Fridays past. Here we mean recounting the calamitous failures of major online retailers, essentially falling short of a good customer experience or being completely unable to deliver website content at their biggest revenue-making moment of the year. And without fail, this pattern is repeated annually – both the cautionary pleas to take action against such catastrophes and the retailers who have somehow declined to take heed.
We live in an era in which e-commerce and shopping online are integral to the “experience economy”. What this means is that shoppers shop in new ways, and online shopping is completely integrated in, and often driving, that experience. What makes e-shopping experiential, as compared to the highly experiential real-life, physical-world shopping experience, is the growth in personalized content and services, tailored individually for online shoppers. The personalized online shopping experience is expected by users, and retailers likewise aim to improve the user experience and fatten their bottom line by making personalized content lead to more sales, more engagement and greater customer loyalty. The better the algorithms work to tailor content for individual users, the better these results are.
Okay, so it’s March. Black Friday and holiday shopping aren’t high atop most people’s priority lists right now. But… this is the time of year when businesses are getting their e-commerce operation in order to test its robustness for the arguably expanding holiday shopping season. It’s beginning earlier and earlier every year, and with people shopping on more devices than ever, meeting peak demand becomes more challenging all the time.