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GUEST COMMENT You say ‘personalization’, I say ‘personalisation’

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by Bruce D’Ambrosio

I was recently perusing several sites that provide ecommerce personalisation solutions. One such provider, who will remain nameless, observed that I was browsing from the UK and asked if I would like to go to the UK site. “That’s good,” I thought and pressed the yes button. On arriving at the UK site I was surprised that the company, which is clearly trying to make inroads into the UK market, had spelled personalisation with a ‘z’.

Now I am not a grammar pedant, and I didn’t have to lie down with a cold flannel on my forehead for the rest of the day, but I had a kind of flashback to the early noughties.

Let me explain. In the UK in the late 1990s at the dawn of mass use of the internet, much of our browsing diet consisted of US created content and services. During this first phase of use we were hungry and grateful, delighted to have access to this exciting new world.

But as we devoured this content we reached a second phase and we started to become picky. We wanted our own content and we became resentful and patronised if we suspected that it had been sloppily repurposed from US sources. It was to this place that my flashback took me.

Since then, though, we have moved on in leaps and bounds. We have our own content and services in spades and, coupled with rapid globalisation, the Anglosphere is now considerably more fused than it might have been ten years ago; we use hash signs now – sometimes confusingly called pound signs in the US – whereas they had no use in UK back then (unless you were a coder!).

Which brings me to the point…

The opportunities for retailers to trade internationally are well understood, but it is the retailers who treat their target territories as individuals that will really benefit from these opportunities. Doing that means not just asking what they have in common, or segmenting, such as French people speak French, but what makes them different – how are they not the same?

One algorithm certainly does not fit all. An understanding of the local market and the impact of any assumptions made by the personalisation engine on that market, needs to be analysed to ensure that cultural misunderstandings do not hamper sales opportunities.

The key then is to work with your personalisation provider to ensure they are sympathetic to target markets, and the solution on offer has the flexibility to accommodate variances based on geography, culture and context – because, of course, not all people in France are French.

Personalisation deployed correctly does just that – or it should. The point is, any vendor that suggests personalisation can be a plug and play solution, acting independently of geography and human input, is probably the sort that is only going to deliver personalization to UK customers.

Bruce D’Ambrosio is chief scientist at Peerius

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