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Experimentation: The Holy Grail for Personalization, but Challenges Lie Ahead

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Today’s online shoppers are looking for ecommerce businesses to connect with them on a personal level. By delivering relevant, targeted content and experiences — commonly known as personalization — ecommerce companies can increase engagement, conversion, average order value and ultimately, revenue.

However, in 2020, Google announced plans to make third-party cookies obsolete on the internet in response to greater consumer privacy demands and new regulations. The official, complete elimination of all third-party cookies is now on track for the second half of 2024.

Whether they like it or not, ecommerce marketers are being forced to adapt to a cookie-less environment. Many are left wondering — what will fill the void in personalization once third-party cookies are no longer available? We believe the answer is simple: rapid and robust experimentation.

Experimentation via Generative AI — Salvation for a Cookie-Less World

As cookies are being phased out, rapid experimentation powered by generative AI is looking to emerge as the next great “personalization” enabler. With generative AI, ecommerce marketers can create dozens of iterations of different customer experiences or promotional content extremely quickly, which can be experimented with and tested to determine which direction works best for a given set of conditions and customers.

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In this sense, the tactic isn’t so much about individual personalization anymore but about using the impersonal data you have to create experiences that resonate for individuals in a compelling way.

Challenges Ahead 

In this day and age, when online privacy is becoming a much larger focus for more users, we may have at last found a solution that makes everyone happy — satisfying ecommerce marketers in their quest to deliver content that resonates while maintaining relevance for consumers and protecting their privacy. But potential obstacles lie ahead.

One primary obstacle concerns a lack of the personnel needed to take advantage of this opportunity. Developers are an extremely constrained resource; according to one recent survey, a large number of ecommerce marketers feel hamstrung by limited, overstretched developer resources and feel it takes far too long for code changes to be made.

To be successful, content iteration and experimentation must be fast, dynamic and accessible. This can’t happen if an ecommerce business takes days or weeks to change content and test hypotheses. To overcome this challenge, ecommerce marketers need to be empowered with tools that enhance their ability to do their jobs. Once content is created, multiple variants should be able to be easily created and published in order to determine what works best.

Going a step further, AI-powered tools can allow ecommerce marketers to create new content through a simple ChatGPT-like prompt in support of specific business goals, for example: “create a ‘products related to this item’ carousel designed to increase average order value.” Ecommerce marketers can create and experiment with content in minutes versus waiting days or even weeks for developer-built content changes.

By determining conclusively what works best, extensive experimentation can lead to significant bottom line improvements. Going further, organizations can quickly learn from these best-performing variants to efficiently scale optimizations sitewide.

Experimentation powered by generative AI has the power to change ecommerce marketing as we know it, and meet or exceed the levels of relevance cookies previously brought to the individual consumer online experience. But if ever-constrained developer resources are required to enjoy the full promise of generative AI and experimentation, ecommerce teams won’t be reaping the benefits anytime soon. It’s time to empower ecommerce marketers while keeping developers focused on their core responsibilities.


Ryan Breen applies two decades of experience to his role as CTO at Fastr. Throughout his career, he’s scaled successful high-growth SaaS businesses, building teams and products in fields ranging from web application performance management to mass communication and mass production. Breen was previously the Director of API Management at Cimpress, the parent company of Vistaprint, where he oversaw the growth of one of the foremost SaaS platforms in the mass customization industry. Previously, Breen served as Chief Architect of Everbridge, where he designed a mass communication platform, and as Co-founder and Chief Architect of CloudFloor, an early innovator in multi-cloud workload optimization. Earlier in his career, Breen was widely recognized as the leading authority on web application performance management when he served as VP of Technology at Gomez, a web performance and experience management company. Breen is a Duke University graduate and holds nine U.S. patents.

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