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Ask how ecommerce shopping experiences will advance, and personalization is never far from the top of the list.
When seeking to make a sale, understanding what a person is seeking and being able to deliver it to them has the potential to bring powerful results. With a growing amount of data available and advances in the tools that can be embedded into a user experience, there is more possibility than ever to bring these features to marketplaces and online stores.
Yet it's still early days for this evolution. Often, we find ourselves asking, What do we mean by personalization? And what will this newly personalized shopping journey look like? Ask the consumer technology ecommerce platform Newegg, and the answer appears to be that it will involve gathering information from users, and the ability to provide recommendations based on what they've said. A series of recently launched features from Newegg indicate a personalized experience can be an interactive one.
This week, the platform debuted a tool called Laptop Finder within its marketplace. Arriving as college shopping season is getting underway, this helps customers explore the options available for selecting a Windows laptop.
Customers answer a series of prompts, based on three areas:
- Primary use in five categories: home/personal, gaming, work/business, content creation and education
- Features, such as recently released, thin and light, more than eight hours of battery life, touchscreen, backlit keyboard and whether a webcam is included.
Once these answers are provided, Newegg scores available laptops compared with a user’s preferences, and provides recommendations.
“A large portion of customers need help understanding the various options to consider when shopping for a laptop,” said Oscar Wong, senior director of product management for Newegg. “Shoppers can spend hours scouring the Internet for research, so Laptop Finder is designed to provide personalized recommendations. Our new tool helps take the guesswork out of laptop buying.”
This follows the June release of Gaming PC Finder. Through this tool, customers provide their desired monitor resolution, four games they are likely to play and budget. Newegg then grades PC builds based on performance expectations. Users can also enter their current CPU and GPU, and Newegg then makes a comparison to other CPU and GPU. It shows details like frames per second to help customers understand the opportunity that comes with upgrading.
Along with offering tools on its own platform, Newegg created a standalone resource to provide personalization. In July, it launched JustGPU.com, a site that is fully dedicated to graphics cards, which are a particular area of focus for gaming.
The tool includes features to filter by price, manufacturer, type and memory size. They can also see specs like frame rates, CPUs, monitor resolution and physical size. A comparison tool in the site allows for a side-by-side comparison.
It’s a sign of how personalization can bring increasing specialization. Any selection made on JustGPU is completed at Newegg.com. But the tool offers a destination for those seeking a specific type of product.
Ecommerce has always specialized in offering choice. Newegg’s recent launches suggest that there’s opportunity to help customers hone in on the products from that voluminous selection that match what they’re seeking. Creating moments for interaction, such as selecting the games they love playing, can provide an entry point into the shopping experience. Showing a product that aligns with their specification, in turn, could go a long way toward making it feel like its already theirs.
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Ecommerce sales grew 9.5%, which was also short of the retail trade group's expected results.
U.S. holiday retail sales fell short of the forecast for the season, according to the National Retail Federation.
Data released Wednesday by the NRF for sales in November and December showed the following:
- Holiday sales totaled $936.3 billion, representing 5.3% growth over 2021.
- The NRF had predicted 6-8% growth for the holidays.
- Ecommerce and nonstore sales for the season rose 9.5% to $261.6 billion. This also fell below the forecast of 10-12%.
- Retail sales for the full year of 2022 totaled $4.9 trillion, growing 7% over 2021.
The news came on the same day that the U.S. Commerce Department reported that total U.S. retail sales for December fell by 1.1% from the month before. It marked the second straight monthly decline, while year-over-year growth slowed to 6%.
On the holiday results, NRF leaders said the collision of elevated inflation and the Fed’s efforts to cool prices and demand by raising interest rates were drivers of the lower-than-expected growth. The comparison with 2021 was also tough, given that prior year saw record levels of growth at 13.5% amid unprecedented demand for goods. NRF CEO Matthew Shay called the results “respectable” in the economic environment.
“Consumers shopped in record numbers and retailers delivered positive holiday experiences to inflation-wary consumers, offering great products at more promotional price levels to fit their stretched budgets,” said Shay, in a statement. “The fact that we saw retail sales growth on top of December’s 14% gain in 2022 shows the resilience of consumers and the creativity of retailers in driving consumption and economic activity while addressing high inflation and continued cost pressures.”
(Source: National Retail Federation)
With consumers spending more on gas and food this year, discounts were a key driver of holiday sales throughout the season. Retailers offered deals beginning in October in an effort to deliver. The results of those fall events are outside these holiday totals.
“We knew it could be touch-and-go for final holiday sales given early shopping in October that likely pulled some sales forward plus price pressures and cold, stormy weather,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The pace of spending was choppy, and consumers may have pulled back more than we had hoped, but these numbers show that they navigated a challenging, inflation-driven environment reasonably well. The bottom line is that consumers are still engaged and shopping despite everything happening around them.”
In updates that held back full numbers, retailers have posted mixed results for the holidays so far. Macy’s talked of “lulls” during the weeks between Black Friday and Christmas. Abercrombie and American Eagle Outfitters said they had successful holidays. Lululemon warned that its profit would be lower than expected. More will be learned when retailers report earnings for the fourth quarter over the next two months.
NRF’s sales totals are not adjusted for inflation, and leave aside restaurants and auto categories to focus on core retail. Results in other categories include:
- Grocery and beverage stores were up 7.8%.
- General merchandise stores were up 3.8%.
- Sporting goods stores were up 3.5%.
- Health and personal care stores were up 2.8%.
- Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 2.2%.
- Building materials and garden supply stores were up 1.5%.
- Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.1%.
- Electronics and appliance stores were down 5.7%.