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"Experience-Driven Commerce"

Excerpt: Consumers today can interact with a brand through a variety of channels and touchpoints. Whether offline or online: Retailers must always engage these hyper-connected customers with valuable content to remain competitive in the long term. We show why positive shopping experiences are no coincidence and how companies can make their commerce more experience-oriented.

In recent years, e-commerce has been characterized primarily by competition between brands that have traditionally tried to generate their reach and attention through price, discount and special offer strategies. However, in today’s world, where customer demands and preferences are changing rapidly, the emotional connection with a brand is becoming more and more important to differentiate itself from the competition. For this reason, the atmosphere in e-commerce is also changing, with customers being at the center of attention and being offered special and unique experiences. 

Building a successful e-commerce strategy requires more than just meeting technical requirements (e.g., fast loading times, convenient payment and delivery options, user-friendliness on diverse end devices, etc.). Rather, today it is about adopting an end-to-end customer and experience-oriented perspective and implementing this in all areas of the company. What this means exactly for retail will be explained in more detail at this point. 

„Experience-driven commerce = Maximizing sales by delivering customer experiences from discovery to purchase that are optimized with insights from real-time shopping behaviors and multichannel data.“

Source: Adobe Business Solutions, Experience-Driven Commerce

The future of (e-)commerce

Experience-driven commerce means providing customers with a personalized omnichannel experience, regardless of location or time. It means bringing together data, content, and insights, and then creating a specific and contextual buying experience for each customer. 

“In numerous categories, more than 50% of consumers expressed interest in purchasing customized products or services. Approximately 25% of buyers are willing to pay more for a personalized service. More than 30% of consumers are also willing to share more personal data for a personalized offering.”

Source: Deloitte, The Deloitte Consumer Review

Experience-driven commerce is about creating an emotional connection with customers and providing them with a tailored shopping experience. The first step is to analyze the customer’s behavior and then combine the insights gained with the context to provide the right information and the required service at every contact. Traditional approaches in e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail are limited to focusing on a single moment in a particular channel, while linking experiences across all touchpoints is essential to deliver on a brand’s value proposition. For this reason, the first steps should be to connect all relevant sales and communication channels and provide attractive and consistent content across channels to serve customers along the customer journey with the best possible service.

Sales and marketing executives must have the right technology to collect data and content and combine it into a specific experience. This includes an omnichannel strategy that connects products and content at every touchpoint. So what exactly should companies do to enable real experience-driven commerce?

  • Understanding buying behavior: You may know what your customers want to buy, but more importantly, do you know what drives them to make that purchase? For example, if a buyer is looking for a running shoe for jogging, you need to provide them with additional information in their customer journey to facilitate their purchase decision. Detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, multimedia content such as videos or 360° visualizations represent just a few examples to transform the boring information gathering process into an exciting buying experience. At the same time, it is important to analyze which information sources have really added value for customers and prospects in the purchase decision process in order to continuously optimize marketing and sales materials.
  • Improve customer engagement: Customer engagement is based on interactions and is built up when customers actively interact with a service offering. Thus, all relevant touchpoints in the customer journey represent important potentials and sources for customer engagement. A customer’s engagement can be triggered, for example, by reading a post, watching a video, sending an email, making a download, writing a review, liking or following a channel. Therefore, always give your customers the opportunity to express themselves when they want to. 
  • Analyzing the customer journey: In order to not only drive customers to action, but also provide a flawless shopping experience, brands need to be aware that not every customer profile has the same characteristics. There are a large number of unpredictable shoppers with different behavior patterns. Therefore, product and customer information must be considered in context. Data from PIM, CRM, ERP, in-store data, customer profiles, reviews, etc. should be reconciled. Finally, an integrated approach enables all relevant information to be placed in the context of the customer journey. Based on a customer’s interaction with an offer across different channels, for example, emails, click-throughs, and social media data can be used to create a specific customer profile and offer a personalized service.
  • Leveraging data through new technologies: Data and analytics have always been an important source of business for brands. And the possibilities will become increasingly diverse in the future. Machine learning and artificial intelligence-based learning systems are playing an active role in the information management process more than ever. The benefits and advantages they bring have a remarkable impact on business operations. For example, AI collects data about buyers and their search and shopping behavior and tracks interactions with an online store. It recognizes patterns in the data, whereupon product descriptions, welcome texts, and even the navigation of an online store may differ depending on the user. By collecting and analyzing data, it is also possible to make forecasts about when products will be purchased with priority (sales peaks), which makes it easier to plan stock levels. But data via AI can also be used profitably in customer communication. For example, AI-based chatbots are increasingly being used in e-commerce, as they can interact with a customer in a similar way to a salesperson. For example, queries about a product can be linked to the user’s previously collected personal data (e.g. age, size, favorite brand, etc.) and suitable results can be played out. In addition to improved product search, service issues can also be answered 24/7 via AI-based chatbots. 
  • Thinking about future target audiences: Currently, almost 1/3 of the world’s population is between 20 and 35 years old. The fact is that Generation Z in particular, born after the early 2000s, is more difficult to engage with a company or brand. This is because this generation is more impatient and intolerant of technical barriers. If users experience a poor, inconsistent buying experience, they quickly and uncompromisingly switch channels and jump to the competition’s offering. Only companies that ensure seamless product communication on all relevant channels experience customer loyalty here. Since users were born in an age where technology is rapidly evolving every day, technological factors play an important role in their buying process. Accordingly, it is not surprising that their buying behavior and expectations are different from previous generations. The characteristic sources of information for Generation Z include, above all, social media, websites, podcasts, blogs, apps and streaming services. Brands that do not take these digital touchpoints into account in their product communication and combine them beneficially with existing offline channels will already exclude themselves from the competition in the medium term.

“In Europe, over 40% of Generation Z buy at least half of their clothing and entertainment media online. Just under a third buy half of their health and beauty products online. In addition, Generation Z is willing to pay premium prices for products that are relevant to them.”

Source: PwC Europe Consumer Insights Series, 2020

Conclusion:

Brands that want to survive in the evolution of the “digital world” must further develop their business model. In recent years, “digital commerce” has transformed into a “digital business platform” that supports the entire value creation process through technological components. IT components such as PIM, DAM, ERP, CRM, as well as other tools and applications represent essential power sources for the digital business platform. Not least because the former “transaction-oriented” shopping journey has evolved into an “experience-oriented” customer journey based on comprehensive, consistent, and relevant data. 

Experience-driven commerce is an indispensable differentiator for creating lasting customer relationships and strengthening customer loyalty. Learn in a no-obligation online demo how to build the foundation for your experience-driven commerce with a PIM system by managing all current and rich product information in one central hub and playing it out from there to all relevant customer touchpoints.

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