Resolving the E-Commerce Identity Crisis: Cross-Device ID


Cross-Device Identification helps identify customers and prospects who use different devices to interact, browse, and purchase from you.

Today’s tech-savvy customers use diverse digital platforms to interact with e-commerce portals. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly complex to combine customer information from different channels, platforms, and devices to identify each customer across verticals. Let’s see how Cross-Device Identification (XDID) is helping resolve the e-commerce identity crisis.

Customers are now using various devices to search for products, view reviews, browse catalogs, look for offers, and make purchases.

Take for instance Sally liked a watch, her colleague was wearing, and used her office desktop to explore offers and read reviews about this watch. While on her way home, she used her smartphone to find out about its features and available colors. Finally, she made a purchase using her personal laptop at home.

An average customer interacts with an e-commerce portal similarly. Most customers use different devices according to the stage of their buyer’s journey, which includes their personal phone, laptop, tablet, work laptop/desktop, and possibly even shared smart home devices.

The Challenge

As the number of devices a customer uses to browse your site increases, it becomes difficult to tie customer interactions and track customer behavioral and browsing data to one individual.

The HTTP cookies aren’t designed to address multi-device reality. Cookie syncing takes place within a browser or a single device and accounts for a fraction of a customer journey (neglecting multiple browsers and devices). Moreover, the cookie approach is siloed with a cookie generated for different browser environments and every URL click. Another pain point is creating a persistent customer view since cookies depreciate quickly.

Learn More: Identity Resolution and Cross Device Identity Management Opens a new window

The Solution – Cross-Device Identification

Identity is a competitive advantage today – it lets you glean significant insights, segment and target effectively, execute with precision, and measure with accuracy.

Resolving customer identity requires a holistic cross-browser, cross channel and cross-device approach to connect individuals to more persistent identifiers like device identification. Cross-device identification is crucial to understand customers and get a unified customer view to target them effectively and push out relevant content and experiences.

What are Cross-Device ID (XDID) Solutions?

Cross-Device Identification is the science of combining information from different customer activities across devices to generate a unified customer view. Cross-Device ID solutions enable you to accurately identify the peopleOpens a new window behind devices and connect them to various digital customer interactions and enable marketers to deliver truly personalized experiences at opportune moments.

Learn More: Nielsen Releases Cross-Device Provider Verification Powered by Digital Ad Ratings Opens a new window

How do Cross-Device ID Solutions Work?

An effective XDID Solution collects the following identifiers of a customer and correlates them to create a 360-degree customer view to resolve all aspectsOpens a new window of connected customer behavior.

  • Personal Identifiers comprise Last Name, First Name, Email, Social Handles, etc. This authentic first-party data is shared by a customer while registering with your website or app. If you can connect these personal identifiers with users’ personal or corporate device IDs you have valuable information to link to the customer profile.
  • Location data such as residential or office addresses collected from the daily commute, social check-ins, etc. give detailed information about customers’ area, timings, and devices she uses while traveling.
  • Digital data such as cookies, pixel tags, IP addresses associated with PCs, smartphones, tablets, IoT devices, etc. give insight into customers’ browsing behavior and purchase patterns.
  • Mobile app data associated with advertising identifiers offer attribution capabilities.

Cross-Device ID solutions use two methods to recognize and tie devices with people: Probabilistic and Deterministic.

1. The Probabilistic Approach to XDID is an algorithmic approach that evaluates the probability that two different devices belong to the same individual by a series of data such as IP addresses, location, and personal markers such as age, browser type, OS version, etc. Since this method relies on probable inferences about an individual, it may be less accurate but offers more control and flexibility. The probabilistic approach has a wider reach, making it ideal for behavioral targeting.

2. The Deterministic Approach to XDID uses a customer’s known data such as email id, social logins, APP ID, customer reference number, etc. to match her to a series of devices. Since this approach needs an exact match, it is far more accurate and scalable. The only drawback — this data cannot be ported outside of the platform to be used across teams as customer data is not portable. The deterministic approach is more suitable for one-to-one communications or personalized conversations based on an accurate view of the customer.

“Marketing leaders turn to XDID for sophisticated ad targeting, personalization and measurement capabilities as means to counter the mounting pressure to deliver consistent, sequential experiences across channels. Explore both deterministic and probabilistic approaches to XDID in 2018. Deterministic XDID capitalizes on insights derived from specific usernames or email addresses, while probabilistic XDID uses more speculative information drawn from different data types to collectively map probable IDs.”

~ Chris Pemberton, GartnerOpens a new window

Pro Tip: Using exact and probabilistic data together, you can bolster varied signals and associate different devices with individuals. To deliver an accurate customer identity graphOpens a new window , these methods need to collaborate with each other.

Learn More: How Google Analytics’ New ‘Cross-Device Features’ Will Help Better Understand the Customer JourneyOpens a new window

How can E-Commerce Platforms Leverage Cross-Device ID?

By gaining a better resolution of customer identity, e-commerce platforms can see significant improvements in the following areas:

  1. Multi-touch Attribution

XDID solutions can help e-commerce platforms link multiple user IDs from activity across the web, mobile, tablet, desktop and connected devices to a unique customer identifier. This will help marketers understand the customer’s buyer journey, and identify the most effective channels, the ads the customer encountered, and what drove them to the final purchase.

  1. Personalized Experiences

Having a better understanding of customers will help e-commerce platforms to create deeper relationships with users and connecting identities across devices will help them deliver personalized content and messages to their customers, which will improve brand value and customer loyalty.

  1. Recommendations and Repeat Purchases

Once a customer’s identity is resolved across devices, e-commerce platforms can tailor recommendations for similar products, frequently bought together products, or a repeat order based on customer search history, browsing behavior, and purchase pattern. This will effectively drive repeat purchases.


Identity resolution is, therefore, the base of customer-centric marketing. It needs to be persistent and complete and should adapt to dynamic customer behaviors.

Cross-device ID Solutions can help connect customer attributes from diverse devices to create a holistic customer profile and fuel marketing decisions with the right resolution and matching process.

We hope this in-dept explanation will help you get started with XDID!

How are you using cross-device ID solutions to resolve the identity challenge? Tell us on TwitterOpens a new window or LinkedInOpens a new window or FacebookOpens a new window ; we’re always listening!