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Personalized online experience - are you in?

Source: Phoenix UX, 12 September 2013

The UK retail market continues to see promising growth, which means that retailers need to find a competitive edge to keep them at the top in such a saturated market. Conversely ecommerce continues to grow especially with many customers now also turning to purchasing using mobile devices. Many organisations assign budgets for different parts of the business because they simply have to. However not many companies proactively think of investing budget into research. Maybe you 'know your customers', but do you'really' know what they want or need? We believe the next trend within online retail will be to provide a personalised service to users.

A large retailer who has taken an ambitious but realistic step into this world is Ikea (Ikea Home Planner) with the release of their tool to virtually design your home with furnishings. The Ikea Home Planner tool allows customers to design their Kitchen, Living room or even Office without leaving their computer. So simply u sing IKEA software a user can drag and drop the preferred furniture to fit measurements of the room. As well as this customers are able to see the cost of the items and when satisfied save it on IKEA's server and simply purchase the desired furnishings at the closest IKEA store. Ikeas' solution allows customers to be creative and productive whilst engaging with the brand.

Recently Mr. Rodgerson from IBM said: 'Consumers are expecting a higher level of engagement from their brands whether it's on the Web, their smartphone or a physical store.' Ikea have managed to provide a solution which is engaging but also meaningful and allowing for helping sales of products.

Another good example is Avon virtual makeover tool. Some customers don't want to spend hours trying different make-up products on in-store. Avon have therefore now provided functionality which allows customers to upload their picture and virtually try different products such as, lipstick, eye shadow or even complete makeup-looks to find what the most suitable look is and then buy the products directly off the website. I think this is a really effective tool and it is nice to play around with, without thinking about time and cleaning afterwards. This is a perfect personalized user experience, which not only engages your customers, but also saves their time and increases productivity for both the customer but also the business.

Organisations allowing for personalised, engaging interaction on their websites which maximises productivity is fairly uncommon at the moment, however with e-commerce in full swing and the digital world making life easier we believe that this is what retailers should be thinking about.

Ask customers what they need and test new engaging concepts with them. So are you ready to get more customers and sales next year?