A new study out today finds that most of the top online retailers lack personalization capabilities, resulting in unrealized revenue from online and mobile shoppers.

The study by Retail Systems Research, which looks at 100 of the top-selling web-based retailers, summarizes: “As much as the industry buzzes about personalization, retailers’ desires and the reality of their execution still seems far apart.”

What are the findings, exactly?

For starters, 85 percent show the same home page to both new and returning customers — meaning that the retailers are not applying any learning from previous visits to make the customer experience more relevant.

Furthermore, three-quarters of the sites evaluated do not leverage past browsing behavior in any way when a visitor returns to the site.

The shortcomings are even greater when it comes to mobile, where 83 percent of evaluated sites show no contextually relevant content based on previous shopping behavior.

And when it comes to search — an action with very clear intent — only 7 percent of the retailers studied offer auto-complete in the search bar with specific, relevant products.

In our own research on web personalization, VB Insight found that 87 percent of companies see a lift of at least 5 percent in their most important metrics when employing some form of personalization. Two in five have seen increases of at least 20 percent in their most important metrics.

Primary metrics

Not only is there plenty of evidence that personalization works, but companies know it: 94 percent of businesses say personalization is critical to their success, according to Econsultancy.

That makes the study’s findings all the more surprising.

“We were surprised at how few retailers have narrowed the gap between personalization aspirations and reality,” the study concludes.

As we approach the biggest shopping periods of the year, this gap means top retailers are not only leaving money on the table, but also inviting competition to pick their pockets.

Note: the study was conducted by Retail Systems Research and sponsored by Reflektion, a personalization vendor. For methodology, the full report is available at Retail Systems Research. Below is a related infographic by Reflektion based on the findings.

Personalization Reportcard Infographic