Anonymous Shoppers Issue

The Rise of Shopper Anonymity – Is your Shopify Store Ready? 

Our Ecommerce customers are dealing with the rise of ad costs and reduced targeting accuracy every day but this issue rarely gets any real news. So we were delighted to see Forbes’ report on the topic recently.

The Forbes article is entitled “Anonymous Visitors Are On The Rise: Is Your E-Commerce Business Ready?”. The article speaks to the increasing trend of anonymous visitors to Ecommerce websites and the importance for businesses to be prepared to cater to this audience. 

Anonymous visitors are most typically folks who visit an Ecommerce website without subscribing, creating an account, or logging into a previously created account. Anonymous visitors can also include visitors that have shared their email addresses previously but revisit only after their cookies have expired.

The Forbes article highlights that businesses need to adapt to this trend or be left behind. As Forbes details, there are three layers of online anonymity. We discuss each in turn below and share a dead simple solution to the anonymity issue that no Ecommerce business can afford to ignore.

Three Layers Of Online Anonymity

The current regulatory and consumer behavior environment makes it more challenging than ever to collect data about a specific shopper. This is the main reason that more and more online shoppers remain unidentifiable to store operators.

In this context, it’s important to distinguish between three different types of online anonymity:

• Not Logged In: These are store visitors who opt to use guest checkout options, or delay their sign-in (or sign-up) until the very last moment. Estimates vary but according to, over 85% of online shoppers will stay logged out for the entire duration of their session.

In these cases, the user remains anonymous but can still potentially be tracked through cookies provided the cookies haven’t expired or the shopper hasn’t opted not to be tracked.

• Cookie-Blockers: We are all familiar with cookies. eCommerce stores place these small code snippets on visitors’ computers or phones when they initially visit their store so they can identify them when they ultimately return even if they don’t login or otherwise identify themselves.

However, with the growing popularity of ad blockers, and with cookie-based tracking blocked by default on Apple devices (since iOS 14.5), this cohort is also very much declining in numbers. In these cases, data about the user’s current browsing session can still be collected, but attribution and the most common forms of retargeting would not be possible.

• Opted Out Of All Tracking: Data privacy regulation, the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), requires companies to receive explicit permission from users in order to collect data.

Shoppers who opt out of tracking, which can be 30%-50% of all website visitors, are not recognized when they arrive at your store, and would not even be registered in your web analytics.

Why Do I Need to Care About Anonymous Visitors?

While anonymous users may not get a lot of attention from retailers today, research suggests that they could be a veritable goldmine. In fact, Braze research has found that:

  • 96% of unknown retail and eCommerce users receive no marketing outreach, making them an untapped audience segment
  • 12% of eCommerce and retail purchasers are anonymous, dispelling the notion that anonymous users don’t spend money
  • Anonymous users are 58% more likely to make a purchase within their first week of engaging with a brand, as compared to known users
  • Using just one marketing channel to engage anonymous users can lead to a 5.3X rise in likelihood to buy among this segment
  • Anonymous web users are 8.4X more likely to make an account if they interact with messaging within their first month

Most Retailers Have Yet to Adapt

Many online shops have yet to come to terms with the current state of online anonymity. 

Ad costs are skyrocketing and return on ad spend (ROAS) is plunging.

Online brands are spending more money than ever driving customers to their stores, only to have the majority of shoppers abandon.  To make things worse, it has become much more difficult to retarget these abandoners.

Retargeting Quality Suffers

iOS 14.5 took a sledgehammer to Facebook retargeting audiences. This dramatically increased ad costs and shrunk addressable audiences.

Retargeting Ad Quality Reduction

Stores continue to retarget visitors using Google and Meta FB ads but grow frustrated at the poor targeting and deteriorating return on ad spend. Sound familiar?

Stores also continue to rely on Klaviyo and other email platforms to send abandonment emails without realizing that these platforms can only send abandonment emails to visitors they can identify – and this typically amounts to less than two percent (2%) of store visitors.

Most store visitors haven’t subscribed to the store’s email list so they are completely anonymous. And many subscribers who revisit stores also appear anonymous because the cookies previously placed on their devices have expired or they are being blocked by cookie blockers.

Personalization Quality Suffers

For anonymous and cookie-less visitors, most e-commerce sites still offer a rather generic experience—with no attempt made to personalize. This results in a poor shopping experience and lost revenue potential as visitors are not guided toward the offers that could be most relevant for them.

Even stores that make an effort to implement a guided shopping experience suffer from anonymity because these experiences ask unnecessary questions when attempting to guide anonymous shoppers to the right product.

For example, stores selling skincare products wouldn’t need to ask shoppers about their skin type when attempting to guide shoppers to the right skincare product if they recognized the shopper upon arrival.

Skincare Quiz

If the visitor wasn’t anonymous, the guided shopping experience could jump right in and start with more substantive questions to build upon the repository of information the store already has stored about the shopper. 

Is this anonymity dilemma an inevitable result of the changes in data privacy? Must online retailers definitively accept less personalization and lower conversion rates? What’s an online store to do?

Using New Technology To Identify Shoppers and Personalize The Shopping Experience

As you might have guessed, there is a solution available. Despite cookie-based user data being unavailable in most cases, there is an easy and legal way to deanonymize new and returning shoppers.

Identification Technology

New technology available leverages geolocation, device identification and other digital fingerprinting crumbs to legally identify consented shoppers.

For example, Gobot’s AI Identity Pixel can identify up to 70% of your anonymous web traffic, automatically pass fully permissioned emails directly into a store’s Klaviyo account, and trigger existing cart or browse abandonment flows.

This technology can help make up for the loss of third-party cookies and ad data by unlocking First-Party owned audiences at unprecedented scale as a new performance channel.

Identity Pixel + Klaviyo Benefits

AI Identity Pixel users get both a significant rise in their email and SMS abandonment email revenue, as well as in the growth rate of their email list.

How does Gobot gather consent? Millions of US consumers opt-in through our Shopper Deal Opt-In site or through Gobot’s 1,500+ publisher partners to receive exclusive offers from Gobot’s eCommerce brand partners. When these shoppers visit a store leveraging the AI Identity Pixel, Gobot identifies them, passes the store their fully permissioned emails, and triggers Klaviyo cart and browse abandonment emails.

Personalization Technology

A unique feature of Gobot is that it is a true First-Party Data platform – including the AI Identity Pixel for identification and a Guided Shopping Quiz Platform for online store personalization. Above and beyond leveraging Gobot’s AI Identity Pixel to improve retargeting ads and emails, stores leverage this feature to bring their personalization efforts to the next level.

Many shoppers aren’t sure which product is right for them, causing confusion and abandonment. Gobot’s conversational AI Guided Shopping Quiz Experiences engage with shoppers and guide them to the right products.

This engagement is dramatically improved when the AI experience can leverage deanonymization to know who the shopper is, including his or her shopping history and preferences. 

Improved Skincare Quiz


By leveraging the full possibilities of automated AI-based deanonymization and recommendation tools, retailers can start offering anonymous shoppers highly optimized and effective experiences, without jeopardizing their privacy.

Given the dramatic impact iOS 14.5 has had, retargeting and personalization has truly suffered, and ad ROAS has gone down the drain. Stores must pivot quickly to address this gap or be left behind by their more technology savvy competitors. 

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