Ecommerce brands can no longer afford to compete exclusively on the basis of their name and products. Though the price factor still lingers, there’s now another crucial component to a brand’s survival on the market — digital customer experience.
Though companies realize the importance of impeccable customer experience, bringing it to life remains a monumental challenge. If you’re determined to keep up with the all-time high customer expectations, try the following strategy.
Go for granular personalization
Not so long ago, personalization didn’t extend beyond putting your customer’s name in an email and segmenting your audience by demographic and psychographic criteria.
By now, technologies have changed the way customers expect to be treated online — and they now expect the absolute pampering. Ecommerce shops are supposed not only to predict what each customer came for regardless of the touchpoint, but also to surround customers with care.
Though digital pampering seems like a mission impossible, you can start with mapping individual customer journeys with the help of smart marketing automation tools and fine-grained analytics. When you can identify what stage the customer is at, you can deliver highly tailored content like product recommendations or unique offers, via the right channel at the right time. This way, customers will feel they are treated as individuals rather than a cohort.
What’s more, if you add AI into your personalization mix, you will be able to pick up the thread during the customer’s next visit. These uninterrupted conversation spares customers the hassle of starting it all over again and serves as the ground for subtle cross-selling and upselling. Eventually, companies that treat customers like strangers are more likely to lose them to more caring brands.
Be present across channels
Digital experience is made up of several channels: the website, device-agnostic apps, online customer support, and social media. All those channels are closely intertwined in customers’ perception. Thus, you can no longer treat these channels as self-sustained. Instead, think how to merge them seamlessly into one ecommerce ecosystem, where customers can effortlessly switch between channels without losing neither the data they’ve already entered elsewhere nor the feeling of being known to the brand.
At this point this may sound like a paradox, but digital today is not only about online presence, particularly for brick-and-click ecommerce brands. Retailers too have suddenly found themselves facing the need to digitize their physical stores.
For instance, retailers can enhance offline shopping experience with mobile-powered loyalty programs. Another option is push notifications with a discount for the item abandoned in the online store cart, sent to the user once they enter the brand’s brick-and-mortar store. As you see, there are no entirely online or offline channels anymore.
In order to pursue an omnichannel strategy, you will first need to compile a research-backed list of channels preferred by your customers. Then you should adopt the right technology to bring together all the channels within one central data management hub.
If you are not sure what technology to pick, try Salesforce, the customer success platform that’s called so for a reason. According to Iflexion, Salesforce is by far one of the most powerful systems on the market today, capable of transforming cross-channel customer data into insights in real time.
Use technologies as enablers
It’s true there’s no magic button you can press to start personalizing across all channels instantly. None of the discussed above is possible without the underlying technologies that can bridge the gap between the digital experience strategy and its execution as well as create one-to-one relationships between brands and customers.
What’s more, with the right technology you can aim for sleek web and mobile storefronts, real-time order processing, deep analytics and, of course, integration with sales and marketing automation systems.
Sensing the shift in customer expectations, many brands now go for redesigning and upgrading their legacy systems. It usually means migrating an existing website to a more scalable platform, the one which allows interconnecting all the brand’s channels and leveraging AI for tailored content generation.
Think one step ahead
Eventually, any innovation gets stale as soon as every brand out there seems to adopt it. The more e-tailers take on the same technologies, the more it dilutes their first-mover advantage and makes them search for new differentiators. The truly competitive digital experience starts when you push to the front and become a trailblazer.
Ecommerce, in particular, has been trying to adopt artificial intelligence, chatbots, augmented reality, and IoT for a few years running. In 2020, these technologies are still there, helping digitize offline retail further in order to tightly connect all the channels that customers are roaming. What changed is that customers no longer treat these technologies as game-like experiences. Instead, they expect brands to use all available means to tailor digital experience to everyone.
These expectations form a crucial trend we will see more of in 2020: data security. As e-tailers source large amounts of data about their customers, they can easily overstep the boundary between being helpful and being creepy. Thus, before your data storage activities get restricted with yet another GDPR-like regulation, the advice is to be proactive and stay away from privacy pitfalls by finding the balance between personalization and data security.
Customers are no newbies. They realize that some brands might be rather careless with their personal data. Though customers are ready to exchange their personal information for relevant content, they still value transparency and gravitate toward those brands that give them control over their personal information.
Time to come to the forefront
Anxious to stay afloat or earn new markets, ecommerce brands need to transform their customers’ digital experience. This is a new competitive advantage, which is also a new way of selling to digitally-bound millennials.
The journey promises to be a bit bumpy, happening at the accelerating speed of innovation and driven by brands’ race to win a bigger share of customers’ wallets in the crowded retail market. This puts digital transformation on every ecommerce brand’s agenda. Those who finish the last in the race will just see their prospective customers waving them goodbye on the way to another store.
Kate Pioryshkina, Iflexion