Personalised ecommerce: how SMEs can compete with retail’s global giants

December 2, 2021

Get ahead of Amazon using the power of personalisation

In ecommerce, consumers have never had it so good. These days low prices, huge selections and slick purchasing come as standard. They’re offered same hour, same day, or time-slot deliveries. This has, in part, been driven by the industry’s global giants, the companies with the financial resources and expert teams to fine-tune every part of the customer journey.

Meanwhile, millions of online retailers across the world are working hard to make their businesses a success. And, when you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why they can feel fed up: in 2021, Statista estimates that Amazon will account for 50% of all retail ecommerce in the US. In Europe, that number is almost 10% and rising.

At Mollie, we believe that more modest-sized firms should never feel defeated. In fact, with the right strategies in place, there’s no reason why small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) can’t compete with or even conquer these giants of ecommerce. Working with more than 125,000 merchants, we’ve identified four dimensions that we see as necessary to compete with ecommerce’s global leaders. In the first of a series of articles focusing on how SMEs can compete, we’ll explain how creating a truly personalised customer experience can drive success.

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What is a personalised customer experience in ecommerce?

Experience is more important than ever. Global giants might have the resources to excel, but fostering a personal relationship with customers is something that they don’t always do well. Instead, SMEs can use their agile nature to cultivate customer relationships that bigger businesses could only dream about.

Personalisation is key. It includes everything from correctly addressing customers in marketing materials to ‘magically’ suggesting products they like. Crafting tailor-made experiences ensures you have happy customers that are happy to return. The figures back this up: Google and BCG’s Business Impact of Personalisation in Retail report found that 40% of people will spend more than planned when the customer experience is personalised.

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So, what can SMEs do to provide a truly personalised customer experience?

1. Entice people to create an account and track key metrics

The best way to learn about your customers is by understanding who they are. In ecommerce, that means gathering data about their behaviour. Ask customers to sign up to your site or subscribe to a newsletter. Track metrics such as browsing behaviour, clicks, and search history to identify common traits and create buyer personas. You can then use this data to personalise their experience, making them happier and boosting conversion.

2. Use personalised homepages, offers and product recommendations

Personalise the user experience by creating offers and recommendations based on how your customers shop. Use data to anticipate their needs and display the products and offers that satisfy them. Think of data like your bricks-and-mortar customer assistant, helping to provide a guiding hand to shoppers so they feel confident to buy. Up- and cross-sell on product-detail pages, showing shoppers similar or complementary products to the ones they’re already interested in, or use bestseller lists to inspire purchases.

3. Embrace conversational commerce

Conversational commerce is an approach where social tools like messaging apps, chatbots, live representatives, and voice assistants are used to sell products and services. Essentially, it makes the customer experience a two-way conversation. It should simplify shopping for your customer, increasing sales and their satisfaction. It also helps you learn more about them. A simple way to do this is by hosting a quiz on your site, so you can use a customer’s answers to understand their needs.

4. Send personalised emails and celebrate milestones

It sounds simple, but a personalised email can go a long way to making a customer feel special. And, by using what you know about them, you can catch their eye by providing links to pages or products you know they’d like. Whether it’s using their name when you make contact or sending them an automated email celebrating their birthday, it all helps keep your customers happy.

5. Look after your customers even when they leave

Make sure you’re giving your customers a reason to return to your site. Offer something when they’re about to leave or send a cart abandonment notification after a (sensible) length of time. If customers haven’t purchased in a while, use retargeting ads with discounts based on their purchasing history to entice them to return. By looking after your customers even when they’re gone, you’ll foster a more positive relationship with them for the future. For more, check out our guide to optimising checkout conversion.

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Personalise every stage of the customer journey

If it wasn’t clear already, personalisation is paramount to providing an exceptional customer experience. These practices might have been established by companies like Amazon and Google, but are now open to everyone with only a small investment. So, to keep your customers happy, increase conversions, and make sure your business is being recommended by the people that count, it’s a must-do.

At Mollie, our mission is to help you grow. We do that with an effortless payment product that helps you deliver exceptional customer service, drive loyalty and understand customer behaviour. Contact us to learn more, or discover more tips to grow your business.