One of the questions I often ask clients is if they have a 360-view of customers. Do they know their blind spots? Do they understand their preferences? Today, it takes integrated solutions that truly leverage cross-channel data and analytics to move from surviving to exceeding customer expectations.
It’s no wonder—with a phone in hand, and a few short taps and swipes, shoppers—myself included—expect to buy the latest trendy items or fresh organic food through their preferred channels, and have it all quickly delivered. People expect to buy and sell whenever they want and across a variety of channels and technologies. They also expect the experience to be seamless and simple.
But it’s more difficult than ever to be “found” on the digital shelf. To succeed amid the explosion of Digital Commerce channels and technologies, the global brands we work with require an end-to-end digital strategy to localize and personalize the customer experience.
COVID-19 may have fast-tracked the Digital Commerce revolution, forcing brands to further accelerate their Digital Commerce strategy, but the pandemic also crystalized the stumbling blocks along the path to enhanced and personalized customer experiences. Firms are spending, yes—but not necessarily in the right ways.
What shoppers expect
Online consumers are becoming more purposeful in what they choose to buy and how. They’re looking for a reimagined digital experience that tailors online shopping and prioritizes what individual customers value most. But what does that really mean?
Customers expect personalization, real-time customer service, free shipping, flexible payments, subscription models and the ability to buy online and pick up in-store. They have an “always-on” shopping mindset: ready to purchase at any time and through their preferred channel.
Online shoppers also want companies to show they care about them and the planet. As a result, they are increasingly choosing to buy from socially and ethically conscious companies. They aren’t just shopping to shop.
Brands therefore need to rethink how to use technology and reevaluate how their people, systems and processes work together to drive a more customer-centric experience that beats competitors—of which more seem to appear every day.
The proliferation of sales channels adds an extra layer of complexity. Brands require a strategy to define and control the right channel and experience mix. What I hear most often is the need for visibility across their diverse business models: direct to consumer, social commerce, digital marketplace, direct to retail, B2B and so on.
A roadmap to online success
The consequence of failing to shift or not responding fast enough is critical for brands operating in a market expected to grow from $10T in 2020 to a whopping $27T by 2027.
Our research shows that B2C shoppers value trust, convenience and customer service that beats—or complements—what they find in a brick-and-mortar store. B2B consumers are looking for the most engaging online shopping experience, which may come through personalization, flexibility, blending of physical and digital experiences, social channels integration or immersive shopping experiences. It’s safe to assume that the Metaverse will play a critical role soon, too, with brands making bold moves to position themselves in—and dominate—the emerging virtual space.
Tech + people = success
An integrated commerce ecosystem is undoubtedly one of the first steps in any digital transformation. It facilitates better data collection and sharing and insightful decision-making at speed—all supported by machine learning and AI capabilities.
With new technologies at the ready, companies get a complete picture of their customers as they shift from buying in-store to online, providing brands with better ways to target them and measure customer satisfaction. Companies can hyper-personalize creative marketing, dynamic pricing and sales promotions.
Automation is essential. Companies can streamline supply chain management, leaving manual processes behind, lowering fulfillment costs and ensuring quicker delivery. By automating parts of campaign creation and placement, brands ensure their people spend more time devoted to strategic work, not repetitive tasks.
But technology only does so much on its own. Human talent is at the heart of any successful transformation. By capitalizing on in-house talent and specialized agency partners, brands and manufacturers can harness the true power of Tech + People.
It’s not enough for companies to have an e-commerce site. To drive online sales, brands require a finely tuned Digital Commerce strategy. Every day, I have the opportunity to explore how brands can provide memorable and positive experiences from product discovery and purchase to delivery and customer support.
Digital Commerce will continue expanding and evolving, with new technologies and channels emerging and triggering new questions along the way. Please reach out for more information on how Accenture supports brands in exceling at this transformation—overcoming challenges while driving profitable growth in the process.