Getting Started with Real-time Product Targeting

A growing number of vendors offer real-time product targeting for ecommerce merchants — offering the right product to the right shopper at the right time. AntVoice is one option.

A growing number of vendors offer real-time product targeting for ecommerce merchants — displaying the right product to the right shopper at the right time. AntVoice is one option.

Product targeting has been practiced for years in the online retail world, where segments of customers are targeted with products based on their preferences and purchase history. This has evolved in the last few years from displaying static product recommendations, as part of the shopping process, to analyzing every shopper action in real-time and targeting shoppers with personalized product recommendations.

The objective is to improve the conversion rate by showing the product the consumer is interested in purchasing. The technology does not produce a 100 percent conversion rate, but utilizing real-time product targeting continuously improves conversions compared to traditional product targeting.

Real-time product targeting is a subset of real-time personalization as it focuses on showing product recommendations in multiple places throughout the shopping process instead of personalizing the content and the layout of the site or app for the shopper. The focus is on selling products, not just improving the customer experience. Most real-time product targeting solutions work with websites, mobile apps, and email messages to show specific products to shoppers that, hopefully, match what they are looking for.

Machine learning techniques are used to understand the shopper’s intent based on her actions, in real-time, and narrow down the list of recommended products. Another term for real-time product targeting is “cognitive product targeting.”

Most of the solutions for real-time product targeting are artificially intelligent. They start with accepting all the historical shopper data and then ingest customer clicks in real-time. Over time they learn from the shopper’s behavior and understand what he might be looking for, or what kind of products interest a specific shopper. The solutions can then fine-tune product recommendations by processing data in real-time.

Implementing Product Targeting

Implementing real-time product targeting is straightforward. Most vendors support the following steps.

1. Identify areas on the website, mobile app, or email(s) where real-time product targeting needs to be implemented.

2. Understand the code snippet that needs to be included to enable this feature.

3. Review the inputs required for the code snippet, such as customer actions, average order value and frequency of purchase.

4. Implement the code snippets and test for accuracy and performance. Most solutions will upload all historical data as part of the initial setup.

5. Launch the new feature.

Most implementations take a few weeks. Leading shopping platforms also offer apps and plugins for real-time product targeting, making it even easier to enable this feature.

It’s always a good practice to A/B test any new feature. This makes it easier to measure performance.

Real-time Product Targeting Vendors

Below is a list of some of the vendors in this quickly growing space.

  • AntVoice, a startup, has won many awards for its technology to show the right product to the right person at the right time. It has built algorithms that continuously optimize based on real-time data. AntVoice is apparently confident in its platform as it only charges based on a percent of sales generated through the recommendations.
  • Colpirio uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, along with customer behavior data, to display the real-time product recommendations. It is a three-step process of data collection, processing, and recommendations.
  • Hugefly offers real-time personalized recommendations using machine learning. These recommendations get refined based on shopper’s likes and dislikes. Hugefly supports Magento, WooCommerce, Android, and iOS platforms.
  • IBM Watson is the deep learning engine that is used in many verticals, including retail. The real-time personalization offering from Watson helps retailers improve customer experience and makes personalization easier by learning through each interaction and delivering the right content to each visitor in the context of her previous interactions with the brand.
  • Reflektion works on understanding the shopper’s intent in real-time and then personalizes the shopping experience to increase the probability of a sale. Large retailers, including Disney, Godiva, and Toms Shoes, have adopted Reflektion.
  • Personalizer, for Shopify, is an app created by LimeSpot that uses artificial intelligence to show product recommendations in real-time. Personalizer claims that revenue increases by up to 67 percent when its app is used.

Does your ecommerce store use real-time product targeting? Please share your experiences in the comments, below.

Gagan Mehra
Gagan Mehra
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