LONDON: Brand reputation counts for little in the world of online retailing, where consumers place far greater emphasis on their actual brand experience, according to a new study.

The 2014 Consumer and Marketer Personalisation Study from BloomReach, a business matching consumer intent to retailer content, surveyed 1,000 UK consumers and 122 UK online retailers in an exploration of attitudes toward features such as product recommendations, intuitive search results, relevant content and ease of navigation.

The report found that marketers were greatly underestimating the importance of personalisation. Around one third of retailers (34%) said they thought that brand reputation was the most important factor when consumers were choosing a retailer, while just 2% cited a personalised shopping experience.

Consumers didn't quite see it that way, however, as 85% said brand reputation was not an important factor and 31% said they would be more likely to make purchases if they were offered personalised experiences such as product recommendations or tailored content.

The disconnect could also be seen in other findings from the report. In all, 59% of consumers believed that online experiences were more unique to their needs, while 80% of retail marketers disagreed with this view, saying that online could not offer a more personal experience.

"There is clearly a gap between what UK consumers are looking for in an online experience and what UK retail brands think consumers are looking for," said Raj De Datta, co-founder and CEO of BloomReach.

Retailers will need to take a leaf out of Amazon's book, as four out of five UK consumers (82%) said that no company offered comparable levels of web-personalisation to the online retailing giant.

Datta agreed that Amazon had "raised the bar in customer experience" and said other retailers needed to catch up. "The good news is that consumers are more open to competitor brands, placing little value in brand reputation but a lot of importance in the experience," he stated.

Marketers needed to focus on improving the latter rather than simply relying on a brand name, Datta added.

Data sourced from BloomReach; additional content by Warc staff