Consumers are turning to the Web more and more to help them make buying decisions. Although the e-commerce growth rate is expected to slow over the next few years, Forrester’s 2014 US Cross-Channel Retail Sales Forecast predicts that Web-influenced offline sales will grow by nearly 50 percent from 2014 to 2018—accounting for a 54 percent chunk of all sales. And it’s no secret that online sales overall are increasing by several percentage points every year as more consumers adopt digital-first shopping.
We live in an age of hyperconnected consumers. From the time they wake up until their last moments before bed, they have a connected device close at hand, and they’re screen-hopping their way to purchases and brand loyalty. Along the way, they reach each stage of their customer journey on different touchpoints, both online and off. In fact, Adobe and Forrester’s 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report found that a full 82 percent of customers make buying decisions in-store, and 51 percent turn to mobile devices for help with those decisions.
This means you need to take time to understand all the interactions a consumer might have with your brand, and how, where and why these interactions might take place. The better you understand those interactions, the more accurately you’ll be able to provide a consistent, compelling experience to every customer across all touchpoints. Here’s how it works.
Building personalised bridges
As digital devices have become key components of your customers’ lives, they’ve learned to take advantage of the opportunity to shift between channels at will. Although a customer journey may start on one channel (for example, your website) it often ends on another, such as your brick-and-mortar store. And as your customers channel-hop between online and physical environments for entertainment, services, and products, they expect the context to carry through.
Take, for example, the purchase of a cinema ticket. Although users may search film times on their tablet and switch to an app to buy tickets, they expect a connected experience that ensures they can use a digital kiosk to pick up their tickets and record their reward points. In fact, more than 40 percent of buyers in this exact scenario start their journeys on one screen and finish on another.
Your customers also expect content that builds a bridge between their online and in-store experiences. Research by companies like Google and IDC tells us that customers interact with approximately 11 different pieces of content on the path to conversion. In fact, marketers are experiencing a 76 percent lift in demand for assets when they move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and start to focus on personalisation.
However, content and commerce changes can be slow, due to many brands’ reliance on legacy systems and inadequate tools. Many commerce platforms lack the capability to deliver rich, personalised shopping experiences at scale. They also generally lack the content and customer experience (CX) capabilities necessary to deliver rich shopping experiences across all customer touchpoints. Thus, customers often drop out at critical phases of their journey, particularly at moments when they move from brand sites to shopping sites.
For companies that invest in upgrades, however, the rewards can be enormous. Here’s one real-world case study on a retail brand that immediately realised a surprising range of benefits after embracing experience-driven commerce.
Integrated adventure experiences
Belgian retail brand AS Adventures sells more than just outdoor products; it sells unique shopping experiences. This customer-centric company prides itself on putting its customers at the centre of all its activities. Its staff members are trained intensively to provide detailed explanations and inspirational stories about the products they sell.
But AS knew its online and offline commerce experiences weren’t as integrated as they could be. So, they set out to achieve a single-customer view, creating multidimensional profiles of every customer and using those profiles to drive a new wave of personalised content creation.
AS achieved this omnichannel integration by getting every team involved—not only sales and management, but also the dedicated e-commerce team, the IT team, and the data analytics experts. They stopped outsourcing their web development, and built up an internal team of developers. Meanwhile, they set up a unique array of in-store omnichannel screens, which integrate seamlessly with their online commerce experience.
From 2015 onward, both online and in-store points of sale fed detailed customer and transaction data into Adobe Experience Cloud, where that data was easily accessible to analytics teams and customer service experts. Those experts used their new, robust customer profiles to provide each customer with a personalised cross-channel experience that’s fully consistent across every touchpoint, online and off.
Not only have these improvements empowered AS to make data-driven decisions more quickly—it’s also shortened in-store waiting times. But the most striking benefit came on the company’s balance sheet: in just one year, the company doubled its overall revenue from click and collect sales alone.
As you can see, a connected shopping experience is more than just a plus; it’s an absolute necessity for any brand that wants to hold the attention of its hyperconnected consumers. In the next and final article of this series, I’ll be recapping all the key points I’ve covered, and briefly explaining how every component plays its part in a unified marketing symphony. See you there!