Companies must face up to the challenge of Web site personalisation for individual users or risk losing business, according to the latest report from Forrester Research, one of the most respected consultancies in the business.

In its survey of business-to-business and business-to-consumer retailers on the Web, Forrester found that companies are giving top priority to tactical difficulties such as what content to deliver and how to trigger actions based on personal profiles.

The report found enthusiasm for personalisation runs high, with respondents expecting it to make sites easier to use and increase sales.

But only 16 per cent of businesses measure the impact of their efforts. The report quotes one computer equipment company as saying: "We have tons of anecdotal evidence that personalisation works, but we've made no effort to measure ROI (return on investment)."

The report emphasises that companies must make better use of data to provide 'smart personalisation' to attract customers, advising that companies ensure personal profiles are matched with customised content.

Examples of poor personalisation are rife. One online drugstore PlantRx - which allows users to enter allergies into their personal profile - still let a researcher buy an aspirin-based product after he said he was allergic to the drug.