Whether it's adding product recommendations to a page or altering the landscape of a home page for select shoppers, personalization decisions must be made on data about who customers are and what they prefer, experts say.

Personalization is becoming an increasingly important consideration when redesigning an e-commerce site. Many online retailers are providing a more personalized shopping experience by cordoning off strategic areas of a home page or product page for product recommendations or changing the landscape of a page based on where a shopper lives.

Personalization can be applied for retailers that sell regional products. Akamai Technologies Inc., for instance, applies this principle so retailers can adjust web page content based on location, bandwidth connection or device type. By mapping IP address to location, Akamai works with retailers to ensure ideal content is provided to a shopper connecting to a retail site in a specific region.

For example, during winter, shoppers logging onto the site of a home improvement retailer in a part of featuring snow blowers, while those outside the area of the storm see something else.

Retailers continue to look for ways to leverage shopper information at the micro and macro level to deliver more personalized and relevant products and advertising, says Pedro Santos, chief strategist, e-commerce, at Akamai. Greater precision in content placement yields more relevancy and delivers retailers a higher return on their investment.

And leveraging shopper information is key to personalizing the design of a site. Achieving a strong level of personalization requires paying attention to more than what the shopper buys. Instead, retailers can look for trends in clickstream data such as price points, favored product categories, preferred colors and favored brands by individual shopper.

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Once such preferences are identified, values can be assigned to them based on the role the preference is likely to play in the purchasing decision, helping to determine the product recommendation to be displayed, says Bob Cell, CEO of site personalization and product recommendations technology vendor MyBuys Inc.

This is the kind of information that gives retailers deep knowledge about their customers’ product preferences, he says. Retailers who know what matters most to a customer are more likely to make product recommendations that convert into a sale, much like a suggestion from a personal shopper in a store.

By digging deeper into understanding a shopper’s product preferences, retailers can, for example, better recommend new products to individual shoppers within the design of a home page.

The goal of personalization, Cell says, is to leverage information from every interaction with the customer to create a shopping experience that best matches their wants and needs.

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