We are living in the Age of the Anonymous. How will you respond?

Consumers are pushing back against personal data collection of every kind. See three important ways retailers should adjust to meet the expectations of privacy-conscious consumers.

By Steve Feyer on April 10, 2024

website visitors are becoming increasingly anonymous

I recently reviewed my consumer risk profile. It was a little unsettling to read the many pages of information that marketers and reporting agencies have collected about me over the years. Even though everything was correct, I would feel better if there were less tracking of my location, contact details, purchase history, interests, and more.

And I’m not alone. Increasingly, consumers are pushing back against personal data collection of every kind. They are using anonymous browsing, buying VPNs, opting out, and supporting legislation to create rules around privacy. In response to this changing landscape, the big technology companies including Google and Meta are phasing out third-party cookies, once so valuable for online retailers.

These trends add up to more than a fad – they represent a permanent shift in the digital world. The Internet has seen significant shifts in the past, such as the dawn of social media and the ubiquity of mobile devices. The trends toward online anonymity represent a similar shift. We are living in the Age of the Anonymous.

Retailers now experience anonymous traffic of up to 98% of all visits, and can no longer rely only on personalization tools that work for a small fraction of traffic. And they don’t want to increase use of expensive sitewide offers that blow up their margins and their brands. So what can retailers do to thrive in this anonymous era?

I see three important shifts in how retailers should think in order to meet the expectations of privacy-conscious consumers.

  1. Get out of their way. Many of the current ways to convert visitors put more information in front of them: pop-ups, banners, flashing lights, and more. These tactics feel like interruptions and don’t work as well as they used to. In the Age of the Anonymous, visitors respond better to a clean ecommerce experience with fewer interruptions.
  2. Don’t match–sell. With so much anonymous traffic, retailers are using ever-more complex matching. Even when matching works, the retailer must still follow up with personalization techniques to convert visitors. In the Age of the Anonymous, the costs of matching plus personalization will rise while their effectiveness will fall. This reality suggests that retailers should think about how better to sell to anonymous visitors without first identifying them.
  3. Focus on visitor behavior. Retailers can recreate selling techniques that work for in-person shopping. In the brick-and-mortar world, all visitors are typically anonymous. Retail staff can increase sales – their conversion rates – by observing the behavior of shoppers and responding accordingly. Ecommerce retailers can do the same – if only they have the eyes and ears to observe what their visitors are planning to do on site. Fortunately, AI technologies now offer exactly this capability.

Learn more about the Age of the Anonymous and the future of ecommerce in Session AI’s ebook, The Age of the Anonymous: An Ecommerce Guide for Selling to Anonymous Visitors.

Age of the Anonymous eBook

The Age of the Anonymous

Ecommerce has has gained an increasing share of the retail market year over year, however online shoppers have become increasingly anonymous during that same period. Read this guide to learn how you can convert anonymous shoppers using AI.

Read More
the ecommerce solution for a privacy-first world

Goodbye PII: Solving for a privacy-first world

What if the answer to less PII isn’t discovering how to collect more of it, but rather removing the reliance on it?

Read Blog

How Verizon uses in-session marketing to increase conversions

Digitally native customers want real-time experiences. How can you deliver that in a privacy-first world? This is the question being asked of Verizon’s SVP of digital marketing and base management, Diana Zaccardi, and the VP of digital, Chris Paul.  The best companies, like Verizon, have raised the bar for what online shoppers expect from ecommerce.  […]

Read Blog

Request a demo

Apply now