There are a number of big ideas creating buzz as we bring together some of the top online retailers this week in Chicago for the Shop.org Annual Summit. The most interesting for me are #mobile, #social, and #omnichannel.

#mobile

As I wrote previously, mobile is transforming retail. The other day I found myself on the purchase journey for a new jacket. Now, I have many jackets, and it seemed unnecessary for me to get another one, but I was heading out on a sailing adventure outside my home area of the San Francisco Bay. The weekend prior an unusual downpour arrived and sent everyone running for his or her raincoats and me thinking I needed a special “sailing” jacket for “offshore” use. I began my search online where I hunted for rain gear specific to the sport and hobby of sailing, as I was worried that my normal rain jacket was too flimsy. After spending some time looking at various options I went to a local retailer that specializes in marine activities.

My challenge, and reason for heading into the store, was that I couldn’t figure out the difference between three models of jackets. The price point was very different with a range of a few hundred dollars between models, but I kid you not, the description and “features” were near identical. Upon arriving to the store I tried the jackets on, I felt the materials, I talked to the store associates and none of this helped. The key differentiation was missing from the story. So, there I sat, in the store, next to the wall of jackets, staring at my mobile phone researching any website I could find where some customer might have a blog post telling me the difference between these products. In the end, I found a wonderful page describing “Rainwear: How to Choose” from another favorite retailer. On this page, I finally learned why there was such a price difference between a 2-layer and 3-layer construction. And here’s the kicker, I walked out of the store not buying the jacket. In this moment of the customer purchase journey, you have to ask yourself, “Am I supporting the buyer through product consideration to purchase? And, am I optimized for any device they may pull out of their pocket during this journey?” If you’re not, they’re going to be like me, surfing others websites, and most likely buying elsewhere. I’m looking forward to getting the latest feedback on what you, an Adobe customer, need from us to excel in this area.

#social

Now, if you’re still with me, you’ll remember I mentioned that I sat in the store and surfed the web specifically hoping to find someone’s blog entry outlining the difference between these jackets I was researching.  In this case I didn’t find what I was looking for on the retailers own web property as their ratings and reviews weren’t engaged with much and having all the focus be on independent product detail pages didn’t allow their customers, including me, to have the conversation about what jacket would have been right for me. There is a huge opportunity for the retailer to bring the conversation back to their own digital experience, whether it’s the website itself or a mobile app, those that harness the power of social communities will keep customers on their site and maximize the opportunity for conversion. As soon as a customer can’t find the answer, or someone to engage with in a forum or live engagement, they’re going to start surfing. And as soon as that happens, it’s more likely that they’ll find their way to another place to buy the product or find something comparable that meets their needs, never making it back to your website. We see this sentiment and believe it or not, Travel & Hospitality and Automotive industries are beating Retail for the highest average social media sentiment. So, as you wander around the expo floor, and socialize with your peers, let’s get the conversation going about how to bring the engagement back to our own web properties. Hint: If you want to see this in action, come see the Adobe booth #441.

#omnichannel

If you think about my experience looking for a new sailing jacket, and you contemplate your own recent purchases, I think we’ll agree that as consumers we cross channels frequently and expect it all to work together, have the same information, bring the customer experience to life regardless of device or location and recognize who we are across touch points. Though, we’ll probably also both agree that this is really, really hard to do…today. All of that said, almost every store I know will accept returned items I bought online and many more are making it easier for me to know what’s in stock at the store nearby, let me pick it up in-store or ship to wherever. The challenge I have for you is to connect those experiences for both the consumer and the store associate. Does everyone see the same product information, can both parties engage with the content across any digital touchpoint from mobile phone to in-store point-of-sale? Adobe is pioneering an experience-driven commerce approach and believes this is beyond the desktop browser, but important to all digital touchpoints.

This week at shop.org we’ll have an exciting new demonstration of our vision for experience-driven commerce that was a collaboration with Crown Partners. You should also attend the session Big Data: The Next Frontier for Retail, where Adobe’s director of industry strategy for retail, Michael Klein, will be speaking. I’m also excited for everyone to see the work Rosetta has done to extend our eCommerce Integration Framework for Adobe Experience Manager to connect to IBM WebSphere Commerce. As our customers continue to tell us they want to leverage capabilities from the Adobe Marketing Cloud for all of their e-commerce platforms, we continue to innovate with our partners such as hybris, Crown Partners, Rosetta and others. More to come… Stop by our booth and say hello.

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