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The One to One Future, Part III
Mar 02, 1998 :: Michael Sippey

In Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte waxed excessively about "The Daily Me," a concept that Yahoo and Excite are experimenting with via effective utilization of the personal pronoun "My." Both provide news stories, weather forecasts, sports scores, stock prices and daily horoscopes tailored to my interests, my geographic location, my demographic and psychographic profile. Yahoo and Excite create value for me by aggregating and personalizing content.

In the one to one future, however, consumers will not only have aggregated and personalized content. They'll have aggregated and personalized commerce.

Where there are only so many ways you can present news content, there are hundreds -- if not hundreds of thousands -- of different ways sellers can present aggregated and personalized product catalogs. "Associate" selling programs combined with XML-based product catalogs will create opportunities for individual sellers who can create compelling buying experiences for audiences as small as one.

The next "My" service will undoubtedly be "My Lifestyle."

Currently, individual commerce sites do their best to present a customized face to me upon reaching their front door. Amazon, for example, greets me by urging me to get recommendations based on my buying history. And Dell Computer knows what type of system I have, and within a few clicks can offer me a list of upgrade options.

But in the one to one future, personalization won't be limited to just one product category (e.g., books, CDs, computers). Instead, consumers will be able to find an online seller who sells a particular lifestyle, defined as a mix of products and services. The seller, in effect, becomes a "commerce editor," presenting the books, clothes, records, movies, shoes, cars, computers, electronics, home furnishings and personal care products that define a particular lifestyle. The seller will be able to deploy a wide variety of technologies in order to reach the target customer (i.e., text, graphics, audio, video, push, chat, discussion, etc.) and can create an online shopping experience that correlates with the customer's personal aesthetics, sense of taste and desired level of interactivity.

In the one to one future, these thousands of online sellers will be able to focus on the act of selling -- creating and maintaining relationships with customers. Meanwhile, the "traditional" e-commerce retailers (e.g., Amazon, CDNow, eToys) will be able to focus on retailing -- exploiting their economies of scale in sourcing, storing, transacting and fulfilling product. They'll essentially discover that it's more cost-effective for them to enable niche sellers rather than try to attack each microsegment of buyers with a customized shopping experience.



Other pieces about personalization: