Customers of will now be met with personalised homepages when they visit as owner Shop Direct aims to “build the best personalised shopping experience in the world”.

Shop Direct reports a Very merry Christmas with sales up 4%

The etailer expects personalisation initiatives to add more than £20m in sales this financial year.

Shop Direct chief executive Alex Baldock revealed at Retail Week Live that the tailored homepages are created using the retailer’s wealth of consumer data.

Very uses an algorithm to predict future customer behaviour based on past browsing, and changes its homepage to push targeted products and offers.

Shop Direct’s personalised website navigation bars also reflect customers’ browsing habits and have delivered a “significant uplift”.

The tailored homepages, which Shop Direct believes are a world first, are part of the group’s investment in personalisation.

Speaking at Retail Week Live today, Baldock said the real prize when it comes to personalisation it to be able to do it automatically and at scale.

“That takes a decisions engine, which is a big piece of kit which costs an amount of money which makes me want to sit down, but we’ve now partnered with some of the best US tech houses,” he said.

This technology will allow the etailer’s personalisation to scale automatically, and the server will learn and change what Shop Direct offers customers as a result.

Alex Baldock, CEO of Shop Direct, on automation

“But with all this whiz bang technology and pointy head analytics, I think it’s important of us to remember our customer is more than a data set and there’s actually a real person there. We have to work particularly hard to remember that because we’re a remote retailer,” he added.

At present Shop Direct can display 1.2 million versions of Very’s homepage to customers, but hopes to increase that to 3.5 million by the end of the year.

Shop Direct customer director Dene Jones added: “We’re only scratching the surface of what’s possible at the moment. We’re determined to build the best personalised shopping experience in the world.”

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