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15 February

What Your Barista Can Teach You About Ecommerce Strategy


We all have a favorite barista: it’s the person who greets you every morning when you pick up your daily cup of coffee—and who already knows that you want just one spoonful of sugar and a splash of oat milk without having to ask.

The barista who’s attuned to their customers’ preferences is a classic example of the power of personalization. Able to minimize friction at the point of sale or aid in product discovery, personalization has a significant impact on customers’ experience when done well: according to Forrester, “Retailers that use omnichannel customer data to deliver unique value to customers and resolve pain points set themselves up to build brand loyalty and create great commerce experiences.”

This is a best-case scenario for ecommerce platforms. “What’s really exciting is capturing your marketing audience through personalized media,” says Remco Vroom, Business Lead for Platforms & ecommerce at MediaMonks HQ. “Then, we can capture them in a similarly personalized way on your website and storefront,” creating a holistic customer experience.

“Personalization addresses an issue that many people face—representation—and allows us to cater toward a more diverse range of audiences.”

Cynthia Lin

Program Director, MediaMonks LA

The Genesis car configurator released last year, for example, lets users personalize the car’s specifications and see the results in a 3D model in an experience that rivaled the configurations you’d see in a videogame—all within a web browser. “But what really made the tool special was that it tied to the back-end,” says Vroom. “Users could save their configuration, which is sent to the closest dealership for them to actually buy.” That ability to port preferences and information from one channel or source to another can be powerful when extended across numerous touch points, delivering relevancy every step of the way.

Catch Attention with Detailed Messaging Tailored to Preference

Delivering personalized assets across the consumer journey can certainly seem overwhelming and intimidating. That’s why we’ve developed a new creative framework for delivering vast amounts of content with minimal rework and designed for transcreation, ensuring that organizations don’t need a heavy share of resources to provide relevant, customized messaging to their audiences. It all boils down to starting with an overall structure or narrative, then identifying the variables you can customize per audience—a bit like filling in the blanks of a Mad Libs story using a pre-defined word bank.

You can see this in action with the dynamic video campaign we made for Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour series. The process was simple: we made 12 edits highlighting different aspects of the show, each of which would appeal differently to audience segments. We then cut up those edits and stitched them back together using Google’s Vogon tool, resulting in 88 different videos tailored to specific user profiles.

Enhance the Customer Experience Through Recommendations

Attracting customers’ attention is one thing, but once they visit your store, personalized recommendation engines can help them quickly discover the products most relevant to them.

One brand that has done a great job in optimizing product discovery is beauty brand OPI. Its Nail Clinic Healthy Nails Quiz, made in collaboration with MediaMonks, helps consumers learn how to take care of their specific nail issues or woes by answering a few questions. This process is fast and easy, with each question limiting responses to only two options. For example, do their nails bend easily? Are they prone to breaking, or peeling? After completing the questionnaire, the tool provides them with a nail treatment product suited to their needs.

“The purpose of the tool is to diagnose nail problems, then educate customers on how they can fix them,” says Cynthia Lin, Program Director at MediaMonks LA.  “For example, if you have a weak nail, the application can recommend a treatment product to strengthen it before putting a color on.” The process is evocative of talking to a shopping assistant at a brick-and-mortar store, offering personalized, one-on-one attention that’s often missed within a digital environment.

Keep a Balance Between Search and Discovery

One thing to keep in mind when embracing personalization in ecommerce is to allow plenty of room for organic discovery. While recommendation engines can be great for helping users immediately find relevant results, you don’t want your customers to feel like they’ve given up their autonomy or control.

So how does one strike the balance? OPI has a tool similar to the Healthy Nails Quiz that allows users to “try on” any of the colors in the nail catalogue. The quiz-based approach—which asks about things like skin tone, nail length, preferred color family and more—fits well within the brand’s content strategy to help customers discover products in a fun, accessible way.

After completing the quiz, users receive color recommendations and alongside an image that helps them visualize it on their own hand.  But customers aren’t forced to accept those results; they’re invited to go back and change responses or freely explore the colors available, opening up the opportunity to freely browse and discover after being matched with a recommendation.

“This tool lets users explore color based on their skin tone, which is important in the world of nail polish and beauty,” says Lin. “It addresses an issue that many people face, allowing us to cater toward a more diverse range of audiences.” As Lin says, representation is incredibly important to the beauty industry: consumers must set expectations for how a given product will make them look, and what types of bodies or skin tones are represented can have the effect of setting beauty standards. The image, which changes based on the user’s inputted skin tone and nail length, also demonstrates the usefulness of personalized assets like those mentioned above.

That really drives home the power of a personalized ecommerce platform: customers can better identify with a given product or envision it in their lives. Through personalized messaging and more relevant product selections, ecommerce brands can meet users’ needs before, during and after a sale—and forge deeper, more lasting connections in the process.

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