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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