Combining search and personalization – that’s the goal FACT-Finder has been pursuing since the acquisition of Loop54 in October 2021. “Next Generation Blixt” is now the name of the result of the merger of the two technologies. CEO Emile Bloemen explains what’s behind it.
This article was originally published in German by Internet World. To view, please visit Internet World.
Just over three quarters of a year ago, the Pforzheim-based software company FACT-Finder acquired its Swedish competitor Loop54. The acquisition was one of the first major consolidations of SaaS solutions in search, merchandising and personalization, it was said at the time; Loop54’s solution was to be integrated into FACT-Finder, making it available to all of the company’s customers. The promise was of “unprecedented digital shopping experiences”.
The promise is now to be fulfilled by the new product “Next Generation Blixt”, which brings together the technologies of both companies and aims to combine the best of both worlds – search and personalization. Specifically, the solution combines FACT-Finder’s search algorithms with “Golem,” Loop54’s artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, Next Generation Blixt is said to offer the “highest standard of search precision, performance and customization options” – in combination with AI to interpret, optimize and personalize results.
Emile Bloemen, CEO of FACT-Finder and Loop54, explains in an interview which data sets the tool works with and how it can benefit retailers.
You say “Personalization is not equal to personalization. Personalization through segmentation is dead” – can you please elaborate on that?
Emile Bloemen: Segmentation, granular as it may be, is mostly based on demographic data that plays no role in an individual shopper’s purchase intent. A perfect example of this: Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne. Both are European, male, wealthy, born in 1948, have two children – and certainly other things in common. But their interests are completely opposite! So if you put them in the same segment and gave them the same user journey – as most solutions do – they would both have a suboptimal experience.
True personalization must therefore be more precise than mere segmentation based on similarities – it must relate to the individual and adapt in real time. In a retail store, no one asks where you live, whether you have children, or what your income is to make a product suggestion. Salespeople simply look for signs: the department you’re browsing or an item you’re taking a closer look at. It’s these actions that indicate buyer intent.
In eCommerce, the clicks and searches a user makes during their session are the equivalent of those in-store signs. With our latest technology, Next Generation Blixt, personalization and recommendations are able to go beyond micro-segments and create unique shopping experiences based on customer intent and interactions, without the limits of fixed attributes. This is what online users want and expect, but it can never be achieved through segmentation.
▶ See a demo of Blixt in action
Next Generation Blixt provides unprecedented relevance and personalization in eCommerce. Join Stephen Batley, VP of Business Development, for a short demo of how it works and what makes it different.
Which data sets does “Next Generation Blixt” actually work with?
Bloemen: Blixt works with the online user’s session IDs as well as search terms, clicks, shopping carts and purchases, which are completely anonymized on FACT-Finder pages. Our AI recognizes a customer only in terms of a cryptic ID number and then identifies the most relevant products in real time based on their online behavior. Of course, we also work with the merchants’ data feed to generate product results, filters, and categories.
In light of the growing debate about the end of cookies, what is the importance of first-party data for you today?
Bloemen: It is of utmost importance that we provide consumers with the best and most trustworthy online shopping experience – and that includes consumer data rights. We take this very seriously and have designed our solution with this in mind.
First-party cookies are the backbone of essential functionality on almost every website today, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. To enable Blixt’s unique personalization, we simply need to recognize that it is the same user who is revisiting the site. To do this, we use first-party cookies collected by the retailer, and this information is not shared with other parties.
▶ Learn how Blixt works with product data
Join Philipp Petek, Director of Product Management, for a deep dive into the back-end of this exciting new technology that provides retailers with the perfect balance of automation and control.
Can you give a price estimate of how expensive a corresponding implementation is for retailers? Is it also affordable for SMEs?
Bloemen: Our focus remains on meeting the specific needs of our customers; Blixt’s implementation reflects this by also being customized. We designed our solution to work with large databases for faster performance, higher precision and unlimited scalability. Most of our customers are midsize and large companies with more than 100,000 monthly visits and 1,000 SKUs. However, as long as online traffic flows, any retailer can achieve a positive ROI.
Can you already name your first customers?
Bloemen: We are very excited about our first live customers and will be releasing case studies in the coming weeks – so stay tuned! The first results of our new personalization and recommendations are very promising.