Ecommerce Personalization Statistics in 2021: New Ways to Deliver Stand-out Experiences

Want an inside look at what’s ahead for ecommerce in 2021 and how to prepare for it? Dive into our roundup of the top personalization statistics and strategies no brand can go without this year: from consumer expectations (and how to meet them) to email marketing, content personalization and the growing demand for mobile commerce.

From the dawn of sites like Netflix and Amazon, consumers are conditioned to appreciate personalized shopping experiences.

But as technology continues to develop, the experiences we thought consumers would see as an added perk are now the foundation of what they look for in a modern, trustworthy brand.

To contextualize with a corny analogy: Personalization was once the complimentary mint chocolate treat you got at the end of your dinner. Now it’s the plate that keeps your food in one place.

From the products and content you display, to where you display them, to the channels you use to communicate with consumers – these all have a significant impact on the value of the experience you offer each consumer.

As we ease into a year where the spotlight shines on ecommerce and digital competition continues to increase, it’s time for brands to buckle down and make the most of every resource available to them.

To understand what’s ahead for ecommerce in 2021 and how to prepare for it, here’s a roundup of the top personalization statistics and strategies no brand can go without this year.

Retail Personalization Statistics: Setting the Bar for Customer Experience in 2021

69% of retailers regard personalization as the top priority in customer experience – and those that get customer experience right increase their revenue three times faster than companies that don’t.

But it wasn’t always seen that way.

For years, personalization was widely known as a “nice to have” among retailers (with some who still believe that). But the reality is that consumers have slowly been conditioned to accepting – and eventually expecting – personalized experiences.

Retailers who think personalization is only an option for their business often become the last option for consumers.

How Customers Want Personalization in 2021

Picture this:

The year is 2000. You switch on Netflix after a long day at work. As the app’s familiar intro sound fills the room, you’re met with a lineup of movie options to choose from – all genres and titles that you would’ve chosen for myself had Netflix not done the thinking for me. You revel in the fact that you’ve saved precious leisure time incessantly digging through titles you’ll never end up watching, and now have more time to enjoy my mid-movie snacks thanks to Netflix’s convenient knowledge of your interests.”

Over the years, this convenience grew into an expectation amongst consumers when interacting with any industry or company. Even in a year like 2020 where the future of retail remained a mystery at first, two things eventually became clear:

Consumers are still interested in shopping and are dependent on digital convenience more than ever.
They’re now largely focused on aligning themselves with brands they can trust and those that provide real value.

Consumer expectations around personalized experiences

  • 84% of consumers believe that being treated as an individual is the key for brands to earn their business.
  • More than 50% of consumers are willing to share information about products they like in return for personalized discounts.

Website Personalization Statistics: The Rise of Communalization

Leaders in ecommerce have been obsessed with personalizing shopping experiences for as long as ecommerce has been a thing. That obsession only grew as technology advanced in the late 2000s. By the mid-2010s ecommerce leaders, analysts and writers were all discussing “the ‘me’ economy” in an effort to highlight the importance of curating shopping experiences to each consumer’s specific needs.

The past three to four years have seen a slight shift in this messaging as consumers’ priorities have changed and personalized experiences have become not enough (as all of the “best” experiences were now assuredly personalized and not that special anymore). The “me” economy quickly became the “we” economy, and personalization began to take on an entirely new meaning.

What does this mean for website personalization in 2021? Let’s look at some ways ecommerce websites continue to embrace personalization as the center of a strong customer experience:

1. Social shopping is growing beyond just social media.

From dynamic product ads, to the ability to buy products directly on social media apps, to influencer marketing, ecommerce brands have been using social media for a few years now as an extension of the website experience – meeting shoppers where they’re spending a large amount of their time.

Though brands will undoubtedly continue leaning into the more literal sense of social shopping, 2021 will see the solidification of social shopping including more than that core definition.

Brands who leverage consumers’ peers (other consumers) and relatable personalities (celebrities and influencers) throughout their customer experience will become more and more common in 2021 and beyond. In fact, social commerce sales in the US alone are expected to rebound in 2021 by close to 35%.

Let’s look at some website personalization tactics that help you capitalize on this growth:

User-generated content

Highlighting customer reviews, showcasing ratings, and leveraging social media user-generated content throughout the customer lifecycle are already trends seen in the best personalized ecommerce experiences.

As this concept of consumer-to-consumer selling continues to mature throughout 2021, brands that find innovative, organic new ways to produce word of mouth buzz for their product will pull ahead of their competitors.

Gone are the days of obvious paid sponsorships. Genuine recommendations from individuals with communities are the new organic growth lever. Case in point: In 2020, 62% of beauty and skincare consumers said that they favor brands that leverage user-generated content in the online shopping experience.

FOMO messaging

Consumers often trust the buying decisions of other shoppers more than they do their own. Because of this, brands should leverage a shopper’s need for communal validation – and the power of urgency – to build product desirability and increase conversion rate. This will become a key characteristic in leading ecommerce experiences in 2021

Here is an example of sportswear brand Champion using a view counter on product detail pages to display interest in products:

Want more FOMO messaging tips?

Check out our 5 tactics to creating urgency across your website using FOMO marketing.

2. Personalization will expand into socially conscious operations.

In 2021, brands will continue innovating to make their supply chains more sustainable and their product lines more inclusive – a factor we’ve seen has a growing impact on how consumers choose and engage with brands.

For a glimpse at how consumer perspective has evolved in this regard, take a look at some of the top sustainability statistics over the last two years:

The top statistics around ecommerce fashion and sustainability

  • Over half of consumers (52%) said they want the fashion industry to be more sustainable.
  • The desire for sustainability in retail is broadly similar across both women (50%) and men (50%).
  • 50% of consumers who desire sustainable fashion would be more likely to buy from companies they know are committed to the cause.

Source: Sustainability in Fashion Retail report (by Nosto)

Elevating this into messaging and content that’s in the public sphere will clearly establish what a brand stands for and will help facilitate the natural formation of a community around said brand.

By making it easy for consumers to relate to them, brands will create communities of their own that are solely based on a love for them. The brands that go above and beyond by adding a form of donation or contribution to a cause will find even greater success in this sphere.

Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia showcases their commitment to environmental justice by bringing together communities of like-minded consumers in the fight against Big Oil and polluters:

3. Hyper-communalization will become a must-have for retention.

For the last few years the ecommerce industry has preached that “retention is the new acquisition” due to the rising cost per acquisition.

We’ve mentioned how community is key to building relationships – and hyper-communalization takes that concept one step further than simply building a network around the love for a brand or product. Brands will have the ability to build perfect retention machines based solely on community.

Fitness and apparel brand Gymshark has created a hub for sports and active lifestyle enthusiasts called Gymshark Central. The page includes anything from lifestyle content to help you look and feel your best (from the #Gymshark66 challenge to healthy recipes), to social awareness to previews of upcoming apparel launches that add a layer of exclusivity to the community:

Also in the sports and activewear industry, Lululemon’s community is centered around bringing people together through a shared interest in fitness and mindfulness. The brand offers access to virtual yoga classes and run training guides – all led by their brand ambassadors:

Sephora is widely known as a frontrunner in the beauty industry, and the brand’s emphasis on community is one of the most prominent ways they create personal connections with their customers.

Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community has grown into a massive beauty networking hub where consumers can ask questions, share their regimens and upload photos of themselves wearing Sephora products. Those products are then linked beside the photo to make it easier for anyone to shop those exact products used in the photo:

How does Sephora master personalization and hyper-communialization?

Watch our exclusive retail masterclass for an inside look at the brand’s personalization and loyalty strategies.

Email Personalization Statistics: The Invisible Bridge Between Brand and Consumer

In 1978, the first email marketing blast was sent by a company named Digital Equipment Corp. Their email was sent to a database of 400 recipients promoting the company’s computers.

That one email resulted in $13 million in sales. Because email marketing was in its infancy, there obviously wasn’t any other competition to outshine.

Now, In 2021, it’s predicted that approximately 319 billion emails will be sent and received per day. What started off as a market of 1 has now turned into a digital war among companies who are all fighting for the spotlight. B2B and B2C statistics show that companies of all shapes, sizes and demographics alike use email as one of the top resources to reel consumers back in.

Before you start to panic, rest assured: ecommerce is an ever-evolving industry, and there are new and innovative ways to stand out from a sea of billions in order to reach your customers.

Good design is a must. Witty and captivating copy captures attention. But what else can you do?

For starters, having a solid product recommendation email strategy has always been key to engage your email list. But with digital competition steeper than ever in 2021, brands are focusing even more on retention.

Here are some ways to do that:

1. Let your customers know you miss them.

If a customer has not visited a store for a while, a natural way to re-engage them is to reach out to them via email. A We Miss You’ email accomplishes just that, helping:

  • Re-activate at-risk customers who either haven’t purchased from you in a long time
  • Promote new products they’ve likely not discovered yet, based on their previous shopping affinities.

Send timing for a ‘We Miss You’ email should be based on your specific business goals:

2. Remind shoppers of what they’ve left behind.

The average cart abandonment rate across all industries stands at 69.57%. With more than half of consumers bouncing off a website, how will your shoppers ever make it to checkout? The answer (one of them, at least), lies in your email strategy.

59% of consumers say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. And with consumers abandoning carts at such a high rate, you’ll need to show them a little extra love in order to increase your sales and retention.

Abandoned cart emails – messages that contain products left behind by a shopper – aim to do just that.

These emails can be triggered automatically when a shopper leaves a site, so customers who have left products in their shopping cart (either due to indecision or lack of time) can be re-engaged with a reminder of what they left behind in order to nudge them towards a purchase:

Content Personalization Statistics: Content is King, but Personalized Content is Queen

Personalized content in ecommerce goes beyond just tailoring the products you’re offering your customers. How so? Every shopper’s experience is unique, and the content you show each of them should reflect that. This means acting on multiple cues from your shoppers, including:

  • Which brands and products are most interesting/relevant to them
  • Where they are located (both physically and in the conversion cycle)
  • Which channels they use to interact with your brand

With this information, you can create unique segments that target customers with content that is specific to that segment’s parameters. Some examples include:

  • A segment for customers who’ve already made a purchase that may require a supporting accessory
  • A segment for new site visitors with an interest in seasonal clothing, who live in a specific city
  • Segments based on UTM parameters: For example, a segment for prospective shoppers who have been led to your online store via a Google or Facebook Ad, but have yet to make a purchase.

One brilliant example of personalized content on product detail pages is from sportswear brand Ruroc. They saw that some of their customers who were landing on their site from Google Shopping and Facebook paid ads tended to bounce away from product detail pages at a higher rate. This created a negative impact on the overall Return On Ad Spend.

To improve engagement on the PDP as well as ROAS, paid ads customers were shown a beautifully designed “Similar Styles” recommendation at the top of the PDP page. The below image illustrates a side-by-side of the original PDP page vs. a variation of the page that combines segmentation, dynamic content and sleek recommendations to solve the challenge:

As a result, Ruroc saw:

  • 19% decrease in bounce rate
  • 67% increase in conversion rate
  • 25% increase in average order value
  • 109% increase in average visit value
  • a solution to a challenge that only took only 10 minutes to set up

Eager to personalize beyond product recommendations?

Explore the three key ingredients of a versatile content personalization strategy.

Mobile Personalization Statistics: Powerful Experiences On the Go

For the last few years, we’ve seen how mobile has slowly and steadily climbed to the top of consumer’s preferred devices when shopping online. And in 2021, mobile commerce is expected to generate 54% of all ecommerce sales.

Because of this, it’s important to remember mobile when planning your 2021 personalization game plan.

To analyze mobile’s growing impact on ecommerce, let’s recap performance over the last two years based on one of retail’s largest shopping dates of the year: Black Friday.

2020 global Black Friday statistics revealed that:

  • Mobile generated 64% of visits while desktop generated 35%
  • Desktop still generated more sales (53%), but mobile wasn’t far behind (47%)
  • Orders were split an even 50-50 between mobile and desktop

In terms of average order value and year-over-year sales…

  • 2020 mobile AOV stood at $91.40 (a 20% increase from 2019).
  • Mobile saw the higher increase in sales between 2019 and 2020.

What does this data tell us?

Despite spending less time ‘on the go’ in 2020, consumers are still turning to mobile to shop.

Here are a few clever ways brands will use what we know about consumer behavior on mobile to drive even more mobile personalization in 2021:

1. Make the most of high mobile traffic by using FOMO messaging.

Yes, FOMO messaging works on mobile, too. In fact, with the high volume of traffic on mobile devices, it would be a waste not to tap into FOMO marketing to increase mobile sales. Not sure where to start? Use this handy FOMO checklist to help you remember:

  • Display checkout timers to push shoppers towards checkout.
  • Expose low stock levels to communicate scarcity.
  • Display product views to boost social proof
  • Display limited-time shipping options on Product pages
  • Push sales forward with limited-time discounts

In this example, outdoor accessory brand Skatehut uses speedy next-day delivery FOMO messaging along with a countdown timer to increase conversion:

2. Treat in-app experiences with the attention they need

Just like your ecommerce website, personalization is a key element of the in-app experience – and consumers are using apps at higher rates than ever.

In fact, retail apps are regarded as one of the top app categories, used by about 92% of consumers in the US alone.

Personalized recommendations on both the Homepage and Product Detail Pages provide a brand with the opportunity to offer relevant content as soon as the user opens the app. Fashion brand Tucker showcases best sellers on their mobile homepage using crisp vertical images:

Mobile personalization opens the door to completely unique experiences based on a customer’s history with your brand, including:

  • Recommendations based on known buying and browsing affinities for returning visitors and customers
  • Best sellers and trending items for new visitors to push your most conversion-friendly inventory

The result: Customers receive special attention from you the moment they land on your website or mobile app.