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Give the gift of personalisation this Christmas

Graham Cooke is chief executive of ecommerce consultancy Qubit.

Graham Cooke

Graham Cooke

As UK retail gears up for Christmas it may wish to heed a warning from previous festive seasons.

Qubit research suggests UK retailers walked away from £1.5bn by neglecting to properly personalise their offers to online visitors.

Online is now a principal player at Christmas. The Office for National Statistics reveals that internet sales increased 11.8% year on year in December 2013. The British Retail Consortium reported that nearly a fifth (18.6%) of non-food sales happened over the internet during the festive period.

Break that down to gain greater insight: for example, visitor traffic peaks but conversion rates are lowest on Christmas Day. Customers are in browsing, not purchasing mode, so engaging content could work better than a hard upsell.

Londoners do their online shopping in early December, and Birmingham has the highest conversion rate in the week before Christmas - suggesting that retailers should adopt a location strategy.

True personalisation is about becoming a real-time retailer. It’s about remaining agile during a ‘code freeze’; about identifying your VIP customers by not only tracing their journey through your site, but also their previous purchases or browsing history; about using real-time content and urgency messaging and keeping customers informed of everything from shipping, price and, of course, tailored offers.

Personalisation can enable you to convert all those first-time visitors to your site at Christmas looking for presents. The same goes for those obviously stressed and confused customers - uncertain shoppers looking to find a present for someone who has everything or who is difficult to please. For these visitors, Christmas shopping is a miserable experience. This is a valuable segment to build a strategy around. These people want to spend - they just don’t know where or on what.

Online personalisation this Christmas should be a key strategy if you want to avoid being haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past.

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