The recent eTail West Conference was much more than just a physical meeting point for thousands of retailers across different sectors and industries. With many thought leaders and emerging e-commerce entrepreneurs in the crowd, some of the most interesting takeaways were conversations surrounding trends in the realm of content personalization and its future impact on ROI. Discussions on this topic all essentially drew similar conclusions – content personalization itself is changing, from a focus on facilitating efficient omni-channels, to a desire to optimize the customer journey. While the former emphasizes the need to maximize the shopping experience across different mediums, the latter looks at creating an optimal world for onsite engagement.

Recent progress in this field point to the idea that reaching this point is best served by appealing to the potential shopper via targeted and relevant displays. While this trend is fascinating in its own right, the reasons that led to this change are equally significant. In brief, today, the merchant market is demanding more accountability and ROI per e-commerce display effort. This reality is in part the result of retailer frustration born out of losing market share to both large e-commerce players as well as smaller cloud-based services offering unique approaches to the online shopping experience. This group, of which Fanplayr is proudly a part of, has focused efforts on bridging the gap between e-commerce merchants and potential shoppers by presenting highly relevant ads to help maximize conversions. In this way, the smaller players have become more active in the e-commerce space, offering shoppers a smoother customer journey than previously experienced.

Most interestingly, trends in content personalization have suggested that segmenting displays according to individual behavior and on-site activity has become increasingly difficult. For instance, focusing an e-commerce budget on trying to capture sales from a single user is simply not cost-effective. Given this, the trick (or rather challenge) for retailers is often to find the middle ground between smart, targeted personalization, and understanding and segmenting shoppers into groups on the basis of various attributes. While reaching this optimal level of content personalization will require testing different approaches vis-à-vis customers (including rearranging product formats and menu displays), the resulting effect will not only be easier to manage, but will impact an e-commerce merchant’s ability to optimize conversions. Therefore and quite logically, if merchants are successfully able to present products to a group of shoppers based on their interests, then more conversions and customer satisfaction are expected to result.

Future changes within the e-commerce space will likely continue to focus on accountability and personalization, thus adding multi-dimensions to the retail advertisement space. As part of this, retail and marketing efforts will be spent on improving the shopping experience and site navigation in order to increase sales and help retain customers. For now, e-commerce merchants will need to find the right balance between customer personalization and ROI generation. As it looks now, the answer lies in creating an optimal customer journey over the long run – a difficult task made slightly more approachable given new apps and cloud-based e-commerce technologies.