Personalization on the Web is something that has generated a great deal of interest. While current products offer valuable features, it is expected that future personalization applications will offer much greater value and functionality.
Personalization is the process of matching categorized content to differing information needs of end users. There are a number of personalization software packages that are especially valuable for e-commerce sites. Three such software packages are Personify (https://ww.personify.com), and Vignette (http://www.vignette.com).
When you visit an e-commerce site, cookies are commonly used to collect information about your interests or purchasing habits. Cookie information is then sent back to the site and stored in the site's database.
Should you visit the site again (assuming it utilizes sophisticated personalization software) you will be presented with a customized screen tailored to your profile of shopping or information-gathering habits.
This means your screen won't look exactly like another visitor's screen because its contents will be pertinent to your unique needs and wants.
How do user profiles increase sales?
Several applications have been developed to leverage user data. On a simple level, sites can greet the user with a personalized welcome and/or provide self-created, saved checklists, product wish-lists or reminders for scheduled re-orders,
such as for prescriptions, birthday gifts, or seasonal purchases. Recommendation engines can use a customer's preferences to recommend similar products. By dynamically associating an individual with a category of other users, the pages she sees can be customized for her interests, based on group trends.
How does email fit in?
If the customer is willing to receive email updates, or a target group email list has been obtained, the content of marketing email can be tailored based on customers' past actions as well as the actions or purchases of users similar to them.
For companies that maintain physical retail locations in addition to online stores, e-commerce transactions allow them to track and analyze customer behavior in a way that is impossible with walk-in customers.
This data can be leveraged for overall company strategies regarding marketing and promotions, inventory and product line management.