The Importance of Identity for E-Commerce Brands

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Keith Petri, CSO, Screen6, stresses the importance of establishing a cohesive customer identity across devices as a means to provide the customized experience that the savvy modern consumer expects. With proper customer identification, marketers can take a variety of effective actions.


The need to fundamentally know who your customers are and what they want has become an increasingly important challenge for today’s e-commerce platforms. While staying focused on new customer acquisition in recent years, many online merchants lost sight of their current customers. As a result, the expectation of a personalized shopping experience by loyal customers leapt past the capabilities of many e-commerce platforms. That needs to be remedied, but many platforms lack the insights to do so.

Although e-commerce platforms have the luxury of owning some of the most valuable first-party data in the ecosystem by virtue of requiring logins for purchases, their understandings of their customers and the full customer journey are woefully incomplete. That’s because many users stay anonymous as they browse across platforms when they are not logged in.

Enter identity. Today, the ability to leverage a true understanding of a customer’s purchase decision results in the ability to deliver better product recommendations and create better shopping experiences. E-commerce platforms that have taken the time to invest in and understand their customers in an intimate way are now rising above the pack by providing better customer experiences that result in increased sales.

That’s the power of identity, and all e-commerce platforms must harness it for the future. By doing so, e-commerce sites can find new opportunities in the following areas.

Better Product Recommendations

Anyone who’s ever gone down the rabbit hole of “recommendations” and emerged hundreds of dollars poorer can testify to the fact that some e-commerce sites excel at taking what they know about a customer and turning it into tailored recommendations. Such recommendations are vital to driving additional purchases and incremental revenue. However, getting it right requires a well-tuned grasp of consumer identity.

Insights that can inform product recommendations are severely limited if e-commerce platforms cannot track a shopper’s activity across their many devices. Furthermore, if e-commerce sites rely only on activity occurring on their own sites to tailor the user experience, they’re missing an important opportunity to connect more deeply with their shoppers—and to woo sales away from their competitors.

Better Advertising

One of the biggest challenges e-commerce platforms face in proper ad targeting is the fact that a single user possesses many IDs—across browsers and devices, some with and some without any historical data connected to them. Without a cross-device, cross-platform understanding, an individual essentially fractures into multiple users. On a phone, the person might be known as a woman aged 20-29. On her tablet, she’s known only to be high-income. On her laptop, no information is available at all on Chrome, but on Internet Explorer, she’s known to be a water sports enthusiast. Yet, all of these disparate profiles represent the same person. If an e-commerce platform can reconcile that identity and understand it is looking at the same high-income, a water-sports-loving woman on all four IDs, the ad experience delivered to that person can be infinitely more tailored—and ultimately effective.


Finding New Customers

Finally, e-commerce platforms today are constantly challenged to find and convert new customers. When users make purchases on an e-commerce platform, those sales have tangible value. But if the e-commerce site doesn’t know how and why the users came to make their purchases—where they saw ads, which ones drove progress toward the sales—then the e-commerce platform’s ability to replicate those sales is seriously weakened.

To truly understand a customer’s journey, e-commerce sites must be able to track a person’s activity across devices and platforms. Identity solutions can help them to identify the best places and ways in which to find and convert consumers into new—and possibly even loyal—customers.




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