Build vs Buy & Picking the Right Personalization Partner

Ann Pichestapong
April 9, 2019

When is your company a good candidate for a build decision?

A lot of companies, once they have embarked on a personalization journey, are often left wondering if personalization is an area they should develop in-house.

Even if build vs. buy is a no brainer decision for some companies, it's always a challenge to pick a personalization solution provider from a myriad of solutions available.

How do you know if your company is a good candidate for a build decision? Even if you have decided that buying is the way to go, how do you know you have picked the right solution that best understands your business?

A good place to start is to understand your business objectives of personalization and your in-house capabilities. The following three criteria are the minimum your company needs to meet for a build decision.

1. Is Personalization core to your business? Do you consider personalization to be a strategic or competitive advantage? Meaning does having personalization allow you to be at the same level with your peers or does it allow you to possess something your competition doesn't have?

2. Where are your strengths? If you are an e-commerce store with a small team of 10-20 people, your strengths would probably be in marketing, customer acquisition, retention or customer services. Personalization needs very specialized skills such as data science and deep understanding of your product and customer data. Developing an algorithm is only half of the battle, you need to be able to reliably integrate with the rest of your stack and implement changes in a speedy manner.

3. Would you be able to handle the maintenance? Personalization is not a one-off project. It's a live and ongoing service that always accompanies your website. Based on our experience, there will always be hiccups when personalization first goes live. Do you have a trusted team to know where the potential problems are and fix them immediately? If you want to make changes to the website, will there be someone to support you to make sure the rest of the site including the personalization algorithm still works?

Personalization is not a one-off project. It's a live and ongoing service that always accompanies your website.

What to look for from a potential personalization partner

At this point, if you have decided that buying is a more suitable option for your business, the next question becomes what to look for from a potential partner. Notice how I used the word 'partner' instead of vendor, supplier or just an app. Because a good personalization company is just that, they need to be a reliable partner that understands your business and works with you to achieve your goals. As you are browsing for personalization solutions in the market, keep these 3 things in mind.

A good personalization company needs to be a reliable partner that understands your business and works with you to achieve your goals. 

1. Experience on your platform: Have they implemented similar features for other websites on the same platform that you have? If not ,are they aware of different caveats your platform may have? Even if they are experts of the platform, do they have a dedicated tech team to help you navigate the configuration, implementation and maintenance?

2. Willingness to understand your business/platform flexibility: Every business is unique, including yours. Do you have specific requirements that you want the solution to take into account? For instance, one of our clients is in a home-decor business and most of the purchases are impulsive. This means customers are driven by promotions and therefore the personalized recommendations should include a few discounted items. The same client also has an issue where they do not want some products to be shown as recommendations such as gift wrapping or gift cards. You know your business best, is there any customization that you believe once the algorithm takes into account will improve the quality of the recommendations? If so, is this potential partner willing to listen? Or do they offer a rigid,off-the-shelf solution that is one-size-fits-all?

3. Level of support: Personalization is not an easy feat. After the installation, you will want support to answer any questions and monitor the results. You will have questions on the integration, implementation and use of new tools to track how effective your personalization strategy is. Make sure that the partner provides you with the level of support that you need. Are they responsive? Are their responses adequate?

You know your business best, is there any customization that you believe will improve the quality of the recommendations?

Keeping the above in mind will guide your decision in choosing who to partner with to embark on your personalization journey. Remember that this is a journey so you need a trusted partner who will understand your needs and provide support when required. In the next post, we will explore different metrics to measure the effectiveness of your new personalization strategy.

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About the author

Ann is the co-founder and CEO of DataCue. Her unique background as a data scientist and an ex-management consulting helps her use sophisticated technology to solve real business problems. Her passion is to open up the power of personalization from only big tech companies to everyone.

Sobre el autor

Ann es co-fundadora y CEO de DataCue. Su experiencia única como cientista de datos y consultora la llevado a usar tecnología sofisticada para resolver problemas de negocio reales. Su misión es extender la poderosa herramienta de la personalización, hoy relegado a grandes compañías, para todas las empresas del mercado.

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