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How Personalized Online Shopping Is Changing the Web

Updated on March 21, 2013
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Even if you've never heard the words "product recommendation engine" before, you have almost definitely seen one in action. It's the thing that suggests that you should buy Sense and Sensibility after you search for Pride and Prejudice; it's how Facebook knows to recommend the release of a DVD for a movie you "liked." This is how Google will present you with sponsored results related to the subject matter you've been searching for. These automated product recommendations are here for the long-haul, and if things continue the way they have been, this technology is changing the face of the Internet as we know it. We are approaching an age of a more engaging Web experience that is unique for every single individual, and it all starts here, with the personalized recommendation engine.

So What Is Personalized Ecommerce?

A personalized recommendation engine collects countless information about both Web viewers and the effectiveness of the advertisements you see to present you with individualized ads relevant to your interests and needs. It updates its findings in real time, so that for every ineffective Web ad you scroll right past, it logs that you weren't interested in that product so that it can give you a more relevant advertisement on the next page. This technology is still very much on the cutting edge of ecommerce, and improvements are being made to these engines every second to make your Internet browsing chocked full of content that you personally find intriguing, entertaining and useful.

If you have just searched on an electronics website for a digital camera, then, a product recommendation generator would suggest a couple good options for tripods and lenses. If you just purchased a set of Batmancollectibles, you might be recommended to bundle it with a ceramic bust of Superman for a discount. Whatever you're interested in, this technology wants you to find the very best, most relevant products for you without having to run all over the Web to find them. So, this way, everybody wins – you get an easier online shopping trip, and the website you're patronizing gets a little off the back end for the more effective advertisements. It's not difficult to see why more and more people are taking advantage of ecommerce recommendation tool, and why it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

The Future of Recommendation Systems

The end goal here is that you never have to look at an advertisement that doesn't have anything to do with you ever again (like, say, a beef jerky ad for a strict vegetarian), and every time you go on the Internet, you will have an experience that is custom-made with you in mind. So, if you're a huge fan of Kanye West, you can be automatically reminded that he will be playing a concert in your area soon, as well as provided with sources for tickets. If you have a thing for sports video games, you can be fed reviews and special deals when the next Madden NFL or NBA Live game comes out, right as you open your browser window.

Essentially, the future of personalized online shopping means a webpage with content that is unique to you and your interests. Amazon.com already has a widely know personalized recommendations engine that will suggest products based on your purchase and search history, as well as common purchases amongst other people who share your interests; the more advanced this technology becomes and the longer you use a particular site like Amazon's, the more accurate these suggestions will become. Imagine logging on to your favorite online-shopping hub, only to find that the product you were about to search for is already featured on your own personal homepage. The possibilities here are just about endless in how personalized your day on the Internet could be, and how effective the advertising technique could be for businesses – talk about being user-friendly!

The Future for Small Businesses

When every small business gets the benefits of targeting their customers with personalized product recommendations, there won't be so much fighting over ad space on in-demand websites. The businesses will instead be able to direct their advertising campaigns toward all sorts of customers they're seeking, and talk directly to them, not the website that hosts the promotion. A high-end women's clothing line, for example, won't be buying up space for banner ads that will be seen by everyone, but only work for about 50 percent of the population; rather, the clothing could be seen by just women and, in particular, women who are interested in designer clothes. This way, the company saves money, and the consumer who has no use for women's clothing will instead be shown an advertisement relevant to his life. Again, everybody wins.

Personalized recommendation systems have already been retooling the way companies look at online marketing, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. Simply put, smart and user-friendly personalized ecommerce is the way of the future, though it's hard to say exactly how this technology of shopping and advertising down the road. One thing is for sure: Our Web experiences will be more suited to who we are as individuals, not as a percentage point in a broad statistic. And when the Internet is more personalized, the rest of the world will go along with it.

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