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The importance of clear digital commerce strategies

omnichannel
(Image credit: Image Credit: M247)

As the United Kingdom settles into a second Covid-19 lockdown, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. With Christmas looming as well, consumers are defaulting to the internet to make their seasonal purchases.

The retail industry has already seen online sales increase. June this year showed a 41.3 percent year-on-year increase according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail index. With this in mind, capturing and managing the burgeoning audience is more important than ever. And it’s an effective digital commerce strategy that retailers are relying on to achieve this.

Customer expectations versus retailer capabilities

Consumers today have continual access to content across a range of devices and channels, making it more difficult for marketers to successfully cut through all the noise. Creating a quality product at an affordable price is no longer the only factor in a customer's purchasing decision. Brands need to meet customers where they’re at — wherever that may be.

In 2019, a study which looked at consumer expectations, found that 87 percent of shoppers said they want a “personalized and consistent shopping experience across all shopping channels.” Put simply, they want an omnichannel experience.

At the heart of this experience, businesses must make sure that customers remember how they feel after encountering their brand. Regardless of time, place, or channel, the whole of their experience with a brand leaves them with a positive, memorable impression. This feeling compels customers to act, purchase a product, or even tell their friends about it.

There is a lot of research to support this relationship between experience and action. For example, this same study revealed that 56 percent of consumers say they are “likely to shop at a retailer that offers a shared cart across channels.” Furthermore, 60 percent say they are “likely to choose a store if it offers inventory visibility across channels.”

Omnichannel marketing is not new, but it has never been more relevant

With workforces relocated to their kitchens, living rooms, and sofas, 2020 saw over 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to around 4.41 billion in 2025. Companies that do not provide an omnichannel experience for their consumers, will not be able to keep up with today’s digital audience.

For bricks and mortar stores without a digital commerce strategy, the impact of Covid-19 has been – in many cases – catastrophic. E-commerce has many benefits and enables retailers to reach a wider audience including those not able to make it to a physical store due to lockdown or other reasons. On the high street, a retailer relies on brand awareness and shoppers passing by. But online, a retailer’s marketing team can reach into the depths of social media channels, inboxes, and website advertisements.

Strategies and tools to achieve successful digital commerce

Delivering an omnichannel experience looks different for every organization, but it should always involve strategy and tools that support consistency, accuracy, agility, and relevance across your efforts. Here a few tips to help you achieve these results:

  • Have a proper strategy. A well-planned strategy will help you and your teams understand the purpose of your omnichannel marketing program, where to focus your efforts, and how to win.
  • Control your brand. A major part of providing your customers with a unified brand experience is having a consistent look, feel, and voice. Product information management (PIM) technology can provide a single view or hub to collect, manage, and enrich all the data that is critical to communicating details about your products, such as descriptions, color options, pricing, and more. Having a centralized system in place keeps this data cohesive across all your channels and provides your consumers with a consistent experience at every touchpoint.
  • Take a crawl, walk, run approach. If it feels overwhelming to revamp your entire marketing program with an ambitious, all-encompassing omnichannel marketing initiative, start small.
  • Leverage data. Relevance is a big part of providing a superior customer experience across your channels. Personalize product recommendations by understanding the products your customers care about. Technology exists to support this, digital asset management (DAM) software can provide a centralized library for your brand’s assets or content – enabling your teams to leverage the assets they need quickly and directly in their other marketing tools.
  • Iron out your workflows. Think about the people (both internal and external), processes, and technologies that are currently involved — or should be involved — in helping you deliver a better, more unified customer experience. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a staple software for any sales organization. This technology will allow teams to work smarter and arms them with the information they need to have more personalized, informed conversations.

Technology’s potential in digital commerce strategies

A successful e-commerce site has the power to ease the purchasing process for a business: from identifying a product, and checking it is in stock, through to buying it and having it delivered at a convenient time to the customer’s home.

With a growing number of customer touchpoints, and expanding banks of digital content, today’s marketers are increasingly in need of technology – such as DAM and PIM platforms – to organize and streamline the content lifecycle for omnichannel marketing.

Whilst DAM software isn’t new, with shopping trends taking a dramatic shift, the potential for this technology to support a seamless, superior customer experience, is more relevant than ever. DAM tools can not only provide one centralized hub for all digital assets, but it gives teams a way to share templates for content, such as menus, adverts, and social posts, allowing them to search quickly and easily for the content they need. This technology enables teams to be confident in the content they’re using, empowering them to maintain their brand across all channels so that when someone sees a promotional ad or video, they’re immersed in a consistent brand experience no matter where they are.

Whether your business realizes it or not, you may already be creating omnichannel experiences for your customers. Taking this to the next level is often where marketers struggle. Connecting all customer experiences in a seamless, consistent, and effortless way at scale is no easy undertaking.

Fortunately, technology such as DAM and PIM platforms makes this easier. Customers expect more from their brand experiences these days, but brands also have more tools and know-how to meet these expectations.

Deanna Ballew, Chief Innovation Officer, Widen