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Sheri Hebbeln
 
September 4, 2014 | eCommerce , Email Marketing , Merchandising | Sheri Hebbeln

Why Personalization Matters a Great Deal for Online Retail

A wine merchant should know his or her customers well. There is a great deal of talk about expanding the scope of the personal shopping experience online to something that is more than mere product recommendations. The shift and focus is to utilizing a process called personalization, which changes the appearance of Web pages so that they cater to the preferences and needs of the visitor, as defined by TechTarget. These changes can alter everything from recommendations to the messaging visitors receive on landing pages and email messages. With these developments, being able to sell wine online is now a matter of going directly to the customer, rather than serve as a storefront.

A personal sommelier
The interest in personalization is intense among shoppers and other customers. According to a survey by the e-tailing group and MyBuys, 83 percent of consumers see the value in personalization, and 65 percent view it as a useful service that helps them purchase goods. There is a great potential to be made out of using this service. In fact, wineries have a particular advantage in starting now, if they have the means to do so: Only 11 percent of retailers say they have completely integrated a full-scale personalization system on their website, based on surveys from RSR and CQuotient.

The best way to describe the benefits of personalization in an online wine store is best seen in a sommelier. These professionals are the type of people who will know everything about wine, from what are the best vintages of a red or specific blend to the best pairings for a dinner or lunch. They are the people that are best equipped to sell your wine to consumers in the real world. What personalization does is create a form of virtual sommelier that customers will have access to at any time and any place they so desire. The nice feature of this is that it doesn't cost the consumer any money to have them on call.

Many routes to the same bottle
There are various ways of integrating personalization into online wine sales. One is through collecting information from purchases, and using that to start making recommendations through email, as RSR and Cquotient suggests. After all, email remains the leading source of desired communications from retailers and consumers. Another is optimizing the mobile site experience by using logins and cross-channel communications, as recommended by MarketingProfs. A third feature is to implement suggested buys that go with a purchase to not only increase the overall sales, but also make customers feel like they're being catered to, as suggested by marketing expert Graeme Grant in MultiChannel Merchant.

All of these methods require collecting customer data over time. While previously, this may have raised concerns in terms of consumer privacy, data collection and analysis is something that people are increasingly becoming comfortable with in order to gain a better shopping experience. Either way, starting personalization can greatly enhance the online shopping experience for wine lovers, which can yield better sales and more loyal customers overall.

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