Every company has its own explanation for this lag, but broadly we can sum up the problem as one of infrastructure and therefore cost.

Historically, website personalisation has been more difficult to implement than some other software-as-a-service (36% viewed it as very difficult to implement in our 2015 CRO study).

Whatever the current adoption of personalisation, what kind of experience can personalisation engender?

Simon Peirson from Barilliance (featured in our Website Personalisation Buyers Guide) spoke at the Festival of Marketing about creating these personalised experiences for four main shopper types.

Here are some of the tactics he laid out.

How to personalise for the ‘Just-Browsers’?

Users who are just browsing can be defined by the following habits. 

  • Frequent visits.
  • Browses a ‘New products’ category.
  • Browses multiple categories.
  • Sorts by ‘new arrivals’ if possible. 

Some examples of personalisation for those just browsing:

1. Personalise new arrivals based on category/product browsing history.

2. Personalise recommendations based on real-time environmental data e.g. display certain products when it’s raining in the user’s location (if appropriate). 

3. Engage anonymous visitors to enter their email address. This can be incentivising users to sign up to a newsletter or, in an example given by Barilliance, prompting users to sign-up to a digest of their browsing habits at the moment they decide to abandon.

Encourage email signup when browsers abandon

email capture for browse abandonment

4. Where customers are known, include personalised product recommendations in email newsletters.

5. Send known visitors a browse-abandonment email, using discount codes where appropriate.

A browse abandonment email with coupon

abandonment email for browsers 

How to personalise for the ‘Researchers’?

Researching users are defined by the following characteristics. 

  • Arrives from external search and lands on product/category pages.
  • Browses within a single category.
  • Sorts by reviews is possible. 

Some examples of personalisation for researching shoppers:

1. Paid-search message reinforcement allows product recommendations on a category page to be aligned with the incoming search term (at a more granular level than the category displayed).

2. Use social proof within these product recommendations served to referrals from non-branded search.

3. Add live sales counters to product pages where appropriate (see below).

4. Match sizing in recommendations, where appropriate (e.g. shoes or baby clothes). When a customer selects a size seven, for example, remove shoes from recommendations that are out of stock in this size.

X people purchased this in the last 24 hours

sales counter tfo show how many recently bought

How to personalise for the ‘Price Sensitives’?

Price sensitive users are defined as follows.

  • Uses ‘sale’ keywords in search terms.
  • Arrives from a shopping comparison engine.
  • Visits sale categories.
  • Sorts products by price, from low to high. 

Some examples of personalisation for the price sensitive:

1. Again, personalise recommendations based on search term, showing sale items to those that arrive from Google with a sale-relevant query. 

2. Recommendations can display cheaper items when users opt to sort products from low to high.

3. In sectors where customers are inclined to copy product titles and use them to shop around (e.g. electronics), display a price match guarantee (see below) when users highlight a product name. 

4. Track mouse movement to gauge likelihood of imminent abandonment. Use this to offer coupon messaging relevant to cart contents.

Price match guarantee when users highlight a product title

price match guarantee 

How to personalise for the ‘Ready-to-Buys’? 

Users who are ready to buy may be defined as follows. 

  • Arrived from a cart abandonment email.
  • Have added items to the shopping cart.
  • Have started checkout. 

Some examples of personalisation for those ready to buy:

1. Auto-apply voucher codes when a customer clicks to buy from a cart abandonment email.

2. Use a countdown timer in checkout for coupons set to expire.

3. Create urgency, perhaps by showing users how many other shoppers are viewing a product (example below from Booking.com).

4. Show stock numbers to create more urgency.

Showing number of people who have bookmarked a property creates urgency and validation


What do you think? Not all of these tactics suit all retailers. Do you have comments on the difficulty of implementing personalisation software, or the tactics you use in your own efforts?

If so, let us know in the box below.