This article is part of our collection from the Imagine 2019 conference. Click here for more.
Consumers demand frictionless commerce experiences. These experiences must display perfectly across devices and remember each person who engaged so the conversation can continue seamlessly. To be successful, you have to meet customers at every touch point. Easier said than done.
1. Own The Omnichannel Experience
Whereas a retailer or a brand sees the world through multiple channels, customers see a single journey and expect consistency throughout every interaction. For them, every touch point is a conversation with the same brand, no matter the venue or screen size.
Every interaction matters, too. Customers’ experiences are impacted by every channel and, therefore, almost every department within a company, digital or not. Building a good customer experience requires linking technology, data, and teams.
And remember, as the digital economy grows, consumers will make more purchasing decisions outside of a brick-and mortar-store—even if the actual purchase takes place in a traditional retail setting. It is critical to create interactive, immersive, and personal experiences—from desktop to mobile phone to in-store—that are consistent with the brand story.
2. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Mobile
No device is more personal than a mobile phone. A phone is always on and typically at hand. According to the Adobe Digital Dollar Report, the mobile share of site visits nearly equals that of desktop, with mobile engagement surpassing desktop on the weekends. Value is increasing, too. Today it’s estimated that a mobile visit is worth double what it was worth in the beginning of 2014. It is no longer a question of if or when but rather how sites can become mobile-first, if not mobile-only.
When mobile is not the primary channel, it often serves as a second-screen or cross-channel resource, even—or especially—in a brick-and-mortar setting. Globally, more than half of consumers use their mobile phones to compare prices or look up product information while shopping in a store, according to the Econsultancy eCommerce Statistics Compendium. This opens the door for intelligent contextual marketing, where mobile is viewed as a behavior rather than a separate channel or technology.
Because the behavior is constant, brick-and-mortar retailers can use mobile to augment the store experience, using various technologies. German footwear brand Gabor, for example, has plans to create a Progressive Web App (PWA) called Gabor Sales Generator. This digital extension of the storefront will allow customers in-store to access the entire Gabor collection on a smartphone–creating the “endless aisle.”
3. Let Products Contribute To The Experience
At the forefront of commerce technology is the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of physical objects that collect and exchange data via the Internet—like the refrigerator that knows when you’re running out of milk. This vast exchange of information puts mobile center stage, making it an interconnected conduit. No wonder marketers are considering the rich value of smart products containing embedded sensors that report back on how a product is actually used by the consumer. In fact, it’s estimated there are nearly 25 billion IoT-connected devices worldwide. And by 2025, that number could increase to 75 billion.
For example, Nestle BabyNes offers a connected machine with pods that deliver hygienic, lump-free formula—and a happy bottle-feeding experience for babies and parents. The company provides an app that helps parents track serving size and frequency, and sends updates to customers when pods are running low. Nestle is creating a seamless service and an intuitive experience parents need.
This is how a product itself becomes an additional touch point, where companies can develop experiences to make customers’ lives better. The key is to think about consumers first, using technology to address those problems, not just to show off a shiny new toy. There is value in the novelty, but in the long run, practicality will prevail.
4. Accelerate The Experience With Every Interaction
Experience-driven commerce also requires that we reimagine what shopping looks like. Compelling storytelling and editorial content can build emotional connections with consumers. Immersive, interactive, and sensory devices can reinforce brand perceptions. A tailored shopping experience with relevant product recommendations and offers that your customer values will keep them coming back—and clicking “buy now.”
Consider British retailer Paul Smith, which offers customizable products and content. People can shop for a wallet, scarf, or purse, and customize it by adding their initials or one of Sir Paul’s famous “doodles.” A monogram preview feature lets users visualize how the design will look in real life. Meanwhile, in the “Stories” section, Paul Smith content comes to life with widescreen video, vivid imagery, and copy that's as eye-catching as its fashion.
With Canon Australia, the post-purchase experience is enhanced with content that speaks to photography enthusiasts. The Canon Store enables event ticketing for photography experiences with the Canon Collective, the brand’s in-house team of photography ambassadors who provide free and paid experiences across Australia.
Content for retailers must follow products. You’re not just chasing eyeballs. That traffic has to convert.
5. Make Shopping Easier
Every step the customer has to take to get from product to purchase is a potential obstacle that could cost you sales. Shoppable media breaks down these barriers, allowing consumers to view product details on specific products featured in lifestyle imagery and video in nontraditional shopping channels such as blogs, lookbooks, and other editorial or lifestyle content. Rather than having to search for or navigate deep into category and product detail pages to find more information on a featured product, the consumer can roll over or click directly on the featured product to view details. This makes the purchase process easier and more compelling.
Shoppable media, like any new technology, must be used with purpose and intention, as part of an overall plan and understanding of the consumer’s needs. Like any asset, it should be used to tell compelling product stories that simultaneously inform customers about everything they need to know to make a purchase decision. Doing so produces spectacular results, not only increasing engagement but making your brand stand out from the competition.
Consumers expect brands to inhabit the same connected space with a consistent personality across all platforms. They expect you to listen to them, provide memorable, seamless, and frictionless experiences, and be responsive at all times and across all touch points.
It’s up to us to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes, to make shopping experiences effortless with business and customer insights.