Executive Q&A with John Andrews: Part I - What “Personalization” Really Means to Commerce

We sat down with John Andrews, VP of Product Management, Oracle Commerce to discuss his views on one of the most talked about topics in the world of commerce, personalization.  

Q.  The term personalization is used a lot in commerce but what does “personalization” really mean?



Personalization is one of the most overused terms in commerce, and has been for a decade and a half. Yet, for all of the personalization talk, the promise of personalization has not been fully realized by many. That’s because personalization is rarely done well at scale.
Why? First, it helps to understand what “personalization” really means – through the years of missed definitions and interpretations. In the simplest terms, personalization means delivering the most targeted content (like products, videos, reviews, or promotions) to the right customer at every point in their journey, based on their unique needs and preferences. To achieve this, it means knowing as much as possible about every customer and having the right technology under the covers to deliver. Personalization is not just about a single system delivering a piece of content to a user, it’s about capturing the right data, analyzing it, and having the algorithms and delivery engine in place to power dynamic experiences to all, across their paths. That’s why it’s tough to pull off. 

Q.  So where do you start to get personalization right? 



There are two foundational areas you need to have a handle on to achieve scalable personalization: product data and customer data. Customer data is critical in terms of knowing your shoppers  – and this starts with building out their profiles. First, you need to be able to define profiles for customers, and capture critical information with every interaction; what products have they bought?  Do they have a particular brand affinity?  What are their demographics in terms of age, location, or gender? Based on the profile information, you should be able to see patterns amongst your customer base and identify key segments; are certain customers brand loyalists?  Bargain shoppers? High-value tablet users?  Profile building doesn’t end with having a mechanism to capture and label user behavior, analytics are critical to tune insights on your customers, increasing loyalty – and sales – through more personal experiences.

Check back next week for part II of our Q&A with John where he’ll dive deeper into leveraging data to drive personalization.  

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