Tag: Personalization

Five Reasons Why Customer Experience Matters Now More Than Ever

Five Reasons Why Customer Experience Matters Now More Than Ever | Contentserv Blog

The commerce world used to function using a different strategy, where businesses controlled which products they sold. They used to select and publish the information they thought would keep consumers interested and engaged, mainly through generic campaigns and advertising. Consumers, having little choice back then, bought into whatever businesses were offering.

All this changed when the digital era began.

Today, consumers have a world of resources at their fingertips. With a slew of new tools brought by the internet at their disposal, they are no longer passive, voiceless bystanders, waiting for a brand to hand them products they don’t need. This means that today’s brands face challenges beyond satisfying the demands of their consumers. They also compete for the fleeting attention of these modern shoppers—shoppers always on the lookout for something different or new.

Consumers now hold more power than ever before; they have started to transform the commerce world with demands for tailor-made, personalized content based on their unique needs and preferences. Furthermore, in the past, consumers were bound to availability, now it’s mostly a matter of choice, especially when they are no longer bound by geographic location or logistics. In this age of consumers, what sets apart a brand is the experiences they can provide.

But what is customer experience?

Customer experience is the overall quality of a consumer’s encounter with a brand. From product discovery, onsite and online interactions, packaging and fulfillment, each touchpoint is part of their experience journey.

Many brands have made the disruptive decision to shift their business strategy—from door to desktop, from a salesperson to social media, and now from product to experience. Since 86% of shoppers are willing to pay for great experiences, it is the right time for brands to pay close attention to why customer experience matters more than ever.

Five Reasons Why Customer Experience Matters

1. Customer expectations keep rising. Modern customers are willing to grant brands access to a wealth of personal information. At the same time, with a multitude of options readily available with a click or a swipe, consumers can easily switch loyalties. A Walker study found that customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator. Additionally, a PWC report found that 80% of consumers believe speed, convenience and knowledgeable support are the most critical expectations that brands should meet.

 

2. It sets a brand apart from its competition. With many available options, customers can easily find and purchase a product anywhere, using any device, anytime. According to Genesys, 83% of consumers want an omnichannel experience from a brand. Omnichannel delivery provides consumers with a consistent experience at every touchpoint. A consumer finding a brand on social media and finishing the purchase using their mobile device makes a brand stand out to consumers. Additionally, as brands get ahead of their competition, they also reap their rewards. A report by Adobe found that brands with the most robust omnichannel strategies enjoy a:

      • 10% year-on-year growth
      • 10% in average order value
      • 25% increase in close rates

 

3. It generates repeat shoppers and brand ambassadors. Brands need to note that 1 out of 3 consumers will leave a brand after one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a brand after two to three negative interactions. However, when provided great experiences, consumers stay with a brand and become repeat buyers. In fact, 87% of customers make another purchase from the company that provides the unique experiences they crave. Additionally, 73% of consumers say a good experience is vital in influencing their brand loyalties. Consumers appreciate great experiences, and they pay it back by recommending their favorite brands to others.

 

4. It is the new battlefield. According to Gartner, 81% of companies are competing primarily based on customer experience. It means brands are recognizing the importance of delivering an experience to build genuine connections with their customers. However, brands must act quickly, as 62% of companies are already steadily shifting their focus on customer experience. The competitive advantage is huge, and customer experience is the new arena to win over customers and stand out.

 

5. High impact. To become an experience-driven business, brands need to have the right strategy in place. It also involves having the right tool, the right process and the best people, and when executed the right way, the rewards are high. The Temkin Group found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience. Other powerful statistics that show the impact of investing in customer experience are:

      • 73% of companies with above-average customer experience perform better than their competition
      • 83% of companies that believe it’s important to prioritize customer experience revenue growth
      • Customer-centric brands generate revenue 5.7 times more than competitors
      • Brands that excel at customer experience are 60% more profitable than their competition

Owning the customer experience

Today, brands that are thriving take proactive measures to provide their customers with the most unique and engaging experiences they can offer. They embark on a journey to be more customer-centric, and they build their strategy around their customers. Customer centricity comes in many forms—from building relationships, getting customer feedback or adopting new technologies. It is a proven strategy to drive long-term business success, but it is hard work. However, it can become less complicated by having the right solutions that can facilitate the personalization and contextualization of consumer experiences.

Three Ways Experience-Driven Commerce is Changing Online Shopping

Contentserv Blog | 3 Ways Experience-Driven Commerce Is Changing Online Shopping

“Experience-driven commerce is the future of commerce,” said Adobe’s Executive Vice President, Brad Rencher1 in 2018. It had been two years since an experience-driven commerce future was first predicted, and because the right circumstances took place, it is safe to say that experience-driven commerce is happening now.

E-Commerce has completely transformed how consumers shop and how businesses operate. So, is experience-driven commerce really the next big thing for commerce? And how is it changing the online shopping experiences of consumers?

Experience-driven commerce, defined

According to Adobe2, “Experience-driven commerce = Maximizing sales by delivering customer experiences from discovery to purchase that are optimized with insights from real-time shopping behaviors and multichannel data.”

Specifically, experience-driven commerce is:

  • Customer-centric – presenting products in a way that resonate with what consumers are looking for
  • Omnichannel – meeting shoppers and their needs across all channels
  • Relevant product content – providing shoppers accurate, rich, complete and up-to-date product content

Experience-driven commerce trumps traditional commerce since today’s consumers are savvy enough to know and get what they want. They seek personalized experiences, connection and engagement. This means businesses need to develop experience-driven commerce strategies if they want to remain relevant and competitive.

Experience-driven commerce, the essentials

The shift to experience-driven commerce is fueled by:

The age of consumers. Millennials are currently the largest consumer group3, and Gen Z, the pickier and savvier version of Millennials, is not far behind. These current and soon-to-be consumers grew up with digital conveniences at their fingertips – and they only recognize brands that are accessible and personal.

Brands must be customer centric. Brands cannot expect these new breeds of consumers to accept everything they provide. Thus, brands need to find a way to know their customers — their needs, preferences, where they are and how they shop. The foundation to understanding this consumer behavior begins with data. Therefore, brands must harness the power of data if they want to deliver experiences tailored to the needs of these consumers.

Constant connectivity. 53% of the global population is connected to the internet4, and it is a number that is still growing as devices become more affordable. It is also estimated that an average person owns and will use at least 154 connected devices by 20304. Most consumers can therefore easily reach for any of these devices to research a product or service they need, complete a purchase, and share their experience, good or bad, online. This means that with a few swipes, consumers can make or break a brand.

Brands must be omnichannel. Today’s consumers expect to have access to what they want when they want it. To remain competitive and relevant, brands must employ a strategy that delivers a seamless experience across all platforms – desktop, laptop, mobile phones, tablets and in-store.

Personalization. Most shoppers are willing to share personal information as long as they get personalized experiences in return. In fact, 61% are willing to share private information to ensure brands understand their needs5. Furthermore, offering personalized shopping experiences are necessary for brands to build loyalty and expand their customer base:

  • 52% of consumers said they would switch brands if the company does not offer personalized communication6
  • 25% of consumers have stopped engaging with a brand due to poor personalization7
  • 35%  of Millennial consumers are willing to walk away from a brand with poor personalization7

Brands must offer personalized and contextualized product experiences.Consumers become advocates when brands meet or exceed their expectations. Brands must understand their customers and their purchase journey to create a shopping experience that specifically caters to their needs.

So how can brands deliver the demands for experience-driven commerce?

Delivering experience-driven commerce

Brands that want to focus on experience-driven commerce must re-imagine their e-commerce strategy. Many will have to begin by embarking on a digital transformation journey. Digital transformation is the catalyst for innovation in the e-commerce space. It allows brands to connect people, process, data and technology. Specifically, digital transformation can help brands eliminate organizational and technological silos, improve internal processes and empower brands to deliver accurate and updated information to its partners and audiences. This is vital to build an engaging brand message in order to generate the success expected of an experience-driven business.

Brands that are digital are in a great position to understand consumers, enhance their product offerings and deliver a channel-agnostic experience, any time. Additionally, brands must consider the following elements when shifting to a more experience-driven approach:

  • Technology. Brands need to leverage the right technology that can fully support their e-commerce strategy. The necessary solutions will depend on the products sold and the target market. At its core, the chosen technology must be able to provide solutions for personalization, analytics, testing, product information and digital assets management.
  • Data. Hyper-personalized experiences begin with data. Brands need a system of insight to ensure that data, wherever and however it is used and by whom, is high quality – complete, accurate, rich and up to date, all the time. Additionally, data must be used intelligently by way of analytics to fully exploit its potential.
  • Content. Product content is critical. It must speak to the needs and wants of consumers. To provide context around shopping experiences, product content must be tailored to the persona, preferences, location and needs of the target audience.

Experience-driven commerce begins with product experience

Great experience-driven commerce begins with meeting customers on every stage of their shopping journey. It requires understanding on how consumers use different channels to look for the information they need to decide on a purchase. Brands must send the right messages without overwhelming their consumers along the way. Furthermore, the shopping journey must be made seamless and easy.

Delivering experience-driven commerce does not have to be complicated. However, it does require the right strategy that is adaptable to the future expectations and preferences of consumers.

The 7 Essential Elements of Relevant Product Content

Blog | Relevant Product Content

Today’s consumers appreciate great content. To lure them into product pages, companies need to create and execute the right strategy. A lot of blog posts out there talk about best practices and campaign ideas to convert. However, content creation shouldn’t be just about turning audiences into buyers but must also be about solving problems and raising awareness. That’s why useful, comprehensive, consistent and relevant information is key to create truly great product content.

Here are 7 essential elements of high-quality product content that’s guaranteed to appeal to audiences:

1. Personalization

Brands get only one chance at selling to an audience in today’s fiercely competitive environment. Opportunities can be lost forever on targets that have been shown the wrong product. The fact is shoppers will never click on content they don’t find interesting or relevant.

That’s why personalizing works. Displaying advertisements that match what a shopper is looking for as they arrived on your site effectively creates positive awareness of your products regardless of whether they end up buying or not. According to the 2018 Trends in Personalization report, 98% of marketers agree that personalization strengthens customer relationships, while 87% report tangible positive results.

2. Compelling stories

Bring products to life with interesting descriptions. An item such as a coat, for example, is just a coat in a product catalog without background information. If you’re a shopper, why would you choose “just a coat” over “a replica coat worn by Timothy Chalamet in ‘The King?’” Context is, therefore, important! For Gerald Zaltman of Harvard Business School, 95% of purchasing decisions are made by the subconscious mind. and the best way to reach this part of the human brain is to tell compelling stories.

3. Attention-grabbing titles

The title should hook the consumer and entice them to find out more about the product. According to copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people read the title, but only 2 out of 10 will continue reading the content until the end. Therefore, for a title to have the power to attract attention, it must contain these 4U’s: useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific.

4. Unique descriptions

Every product is different! Even if you have hundreds or thousands of references in stock and writing a unique description for each would be a long and tedious task, it is still essential for you to give each product a fitting and original description. Doing so can inspire confidence as it proves that the brand believes in its products and respects its customers.

5. Enrich with images

Images are indispensable for any shopping experience because they connect the consumer to the product. 75% of online shoppers say that product images strongly influence their purchasing decision. It is then important to ensure quality and originality by avoiding stock photos and providing dynamic original images (e.g. angle and context shots) that allow consumers to imagine themselves with the product.

6. Clear and concise descriptions

Try not to write novels or flood the description page with too many details. Writing too much bores consumers, and worse, drives them away. Be conscious of the fact that consumers today read on mobile devices and have attention spans worse than a proverbial goldfish. According to a Microsoft report, an individual’s ability to concentrate has gone from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013, and is getting worse! A short and focused description is, therefore, a must!

7. Suggest relevant products

By leveraging technology, brands can capture customer information (e.g. transactional, history, etc.) and take advantage of the cross-selling and upselling opportunities it presents. While the customer is on the site, brands can offer essential complementary products (cross-sell) or suggest a premium, higher-end product (upsell) effectively raising awareness while improving shopper’s experience.

How D2C is Impacting Retail

How D2C is Impacting Retail

D2C, D to C or DTC, stands for direct-to-consumer, a business model that cuts the middleman (e.g. wholesalers and retailers) and allows brands to control the end-to-end process, i.e. manufacture and market their product, as well as take care of order fulfillment.

Brands and consumers can both win with D2C, with manufacturers enjoying gross margins on sales (saving approximately 10-15% from wholesale distribution and 15-40% from retailers)1 and owning first-party data to better understand end-consumers, and consumers, on the other hand, benefiting from lower cost offerings and improved experiences.

Deloitte compiled D2C’s benefits for brands in this chart:2

Deloitte infographic D2C benefits for brands
(Image Source: Deloitte)

 

A closer look at most of these benefits reveals D2C’s appeal for manufacturers:

Expanded reach

Unhampered by physical location, geography, time zone and even language, D2C brands can market via social media, sell through e-commerce and deliver products using third-party fulfillment service providers. This is in sharp contrast with the traditional model, where manufacturers are constrained by a retailers’ reach.

Personalization

With access to an incredible wealth of data generated by digital tools and platforms, D2C brands can better understand their customers’ journeys towards a purchase. Armed with insights from first-party data, they can offer personalized experiences to specific segments and individuals, therefore improving sales as well as customer retention and satisfaction.

Customer loyalty

By owning the customer relationship, D2C brands get to know their customers deeply and thus, can deliver targeted value propositions. Through personalization and continuous engagement, they are better positioned to establish and grow loyalty from their customers.

Full assortment

With D2C, brands are free to lay out a comprehensive assortment of their products—how, where and when they want. This is unlike the traditional model, where they are restricted by a retailers’ shelves and goals.

Pricing control

Brands that have gone direct can A/B test their price to find out what works with consumers. They can also freely increase or decrease pricing according to the economics of their business unlike when they only have partial control of pricing as they have to defer to the price set by the wholesalers or distribution outlets.

Full control of merchandising

When brands own all their channels in D2C, they can offer the right products to the right consumers according to data, unlike when merchandising was the retailers’ call.

Time-to-market

Without middlemen who have own their timing and requirements (i.e. must show proof of success for products to be distributed in certain locations), D2C brands can sell and deliver products to consumers whenever they want.

D2C threatens retail by cutting into its market share

According to Diffusion’s 2018 D2C Purchase Intent Index, more and more Americans are poised to buy from D2C brands within the next five years:3

·        A third will make 40% of their purchases from D2C brands

·        81% will make at least one purchase from D2C brands

However, despite of these numbers, eMarketer found that only department stores and other traditional mall-based retailers will be affected, not retail giants such as Amazon, Walmart and Target.4

Has D2C really upended retail?

By being agile and leaving the old-school supply chain process behind, eliminating dependences on third-party distribution systems and controlling their branding, many D2C companies have found success. Furthermore, by highlighting their truths and values, D2C companies have also increased their appeal with the millennial segment.

In addition, D2C brands have made efforts to understand end-consumers, offered flexible pricing schemes, provided delivery/shipping options and built trust through rich content and unparalleled customer service.

Take D2C’s poster child, Warby Parker’s success as an example. How did the hipster brand turn the eyeglasses industry upside-down without a physical store? Since they know their target segment, they used narrative storytelling and a creative Instagram ad strategy to hook and engage,5 eventually causing hundreds of other fashion and lifestyle brands to follow their example.

Here’s an example of how Warby Parker eliminated the top concern of consumers when it comes to buying wearable products online (the fact that consumers can’t physically try their products on):

Warby Parker How it Works

(Image source: Warby Parker)

The content may be short, but it used simple instructions, clean designs, spoke their target’s language and, most importantly, gave them the freedom to choose. Warby Parker also provided shoppers with a fun, frictionless and personalized experience – things that retailers might struggle to provide.

D2C intensifies the competition

Due to the success of D2C startups, more and more players have come into the scene. It includes big names such as Nike and Apple, making an already tight space even tighter and creating a suffocating environment for retailers, competition-wise.

Nike has been so successful with D2C that it stopped selling to Amazon in 2019. Although the decision might have included issues with counterfeits, Nike shared with Retail Drive that it’s more about improving customer experience, “As part of Nike’s focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships, we have made the decision to complete our current pilot with Amazon Retail.”6

What was Nike’s D2C strategy? They called it “Consumer Direct Offense,” which aims to “serve consumers personally, at scale” and entails enhancing their digital efforts through mobile apps.7

Through the Nike Customer Experience (NCX) program,8 the brand aims to create more personal connections with customers through the “30-day free returns, dirt and all” free trials, access to the Nike Plus rewards program and Nike experts and personalized exercise routines and more.9

Nike image source_Heidi O'Neill and Adam Sussman's Transcript

(Image source: Heidi O’Neill and Adam Sussman’s Transcript)

 

The D2C industry was forecasted to account for $17.75 billion of total US e-commerce sales in 2020, further proving that this business model pays.

Here’s a list of top D2C brands:10

  • Warby Parker, valued at $1.75 billion
  • Dollar Shave Club, acquired by Unilever for $1 billion
  • Casper and Harry’s, each valued at about $750 million apiece
  • Glossier, valued at $390 million
  • Bonobos, acquired for $310 million
  • BarkBox, worth between $150 and $200 million

D2C’s success also has implications on marketing, as companies that used to invest in advertising and brand-building in physical stores are now looking at digital because there is where the consumers are shifting to.

As Racantour puts it, “Once a consumer has downloaded the company’s app or logged into its website, the entire experience takes place in a digital, walled garden and can be highly personalized.” 11

But it’s not only in the online space that D2C brands are besting retail. They’re also encroaching on retail’s physical spaces as many have opened brick-and-mortar stores to fulfill their omnichannel goals.

But then there’s Amazon and Walmart

D2C is here to stay. This means it’s up to retailers to rise to the challenge and evolve. They must note that retail remains a vital channel in an omnichannel environment, and look to Walmart and Amazon, which are blurring the lines of retail and D2C, for inspiration. For these two giants, the motto seems to be, “If you can’t beat them…”

Sources:

1 Direct to Consumer Strategy, an Expert’s Guide
2 Deloitte, Consumer Business Going Digital / Going Direct
3 Diffusion’s 2018 Direct-to-Consumer Purchase Intent Index
4 The Future of Retail 2020
5 Warby Parker Marketing Story
6 Nike to stop selling on Amazon
7 Nike consumer direct offense
8 Nike Direct – Heidi & Adam’s Transcript
9 How Nike combines customer centricity with brand reputation to stay on top
10 Direct-to-Consumer Start-ups You Need to Know
11 Why Direct to Consumer Brands are dominating in Retail

The Dos and Don’ts of Building a Successful PIM Business Case

It can be argued that business cases play a direct and crucial role to how successful a company’s project will be. Business cases are developed during the early stages of a project and outlines the what, how, and who are necessary to determine if the plan is worth undertaking in the first place. Let’s be clear: business cases are vastly different from project proposals which focus on why a company needs a specific project. Business cases are meant to be reviewed by the project sponsor and key stakeholders before being accepted, rejected, cancelled, revised or deferred.

Marketers, take heed: Drafting a lackluster business case can result in project failure. Gartner Group studies have suggested that 75% of U.S. IT projects are considered failures by those responsible for initiating them. Failure, in this case, was defined as projects that did not meet its objectives, missed deadlines or went above the pre-approved budget.

Similarly, a Standish Group study on the U.S. IT industry found that 31% of projects were cancelled outright, with 53% of all reviewed projects displaying challenges that had the potential to make the project a failure.

Four questions need to be addressed in a business case:

  • What is/are the company’s goal/s in pursuing the project?
  • What are the potential challenges that prevent the company from reaching the goal(s)?
  • What can be done to overcome these potential challenges?
  • Is the company well-equipped to deal with these potential challenges?

Creating a business case

Great business cases clearly communicate the benefits and potential of your proposed project. In terms of arguing a case for a Product Information Management (PIM) system, you need to be clear on what and how such a solution can benefit a company.

Do talk about trends

Industry experts agree that the manufacturing industry is going to go through a lot of changes. While PIM has typically been associated with retail, predictions are being made to its necessity in the manufacturing industry as well. One important trend that can be highlighted in a business case is a 2018 study published in MAPI which talked about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will directly affect how manufacturing brands communicate with their customers. Study author, Dr. Michael Mandel, stated that e-commerce fulfillment centers and the digitization of distribution (similar to the Amazon model) will influence manufacturers to shift from a warehouse model to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model. In order to efficiently manage this process and communicate consumer-facing information, a PIM system would be beneficial.

Takeaway: Business cases create a sense of urgency. When developing a business case, it’s important that it gives a strong overview of the market and its current trends.

Do talk about numbers

Remember that business cases are not project proposals. While it is still a good idea to talk about the benefits of having a PIM model in an organization (the “why” of the project), business cases should highlight the potential gains of implementing a PIM solution (the “what”). When a company invests in a PIM solution, they have a central repository of product information, which helps speed time-to-market. PIM systems take away the long hours needed to manage product information from multiple sources and systems. Not only does this shorten the time companies need to produce new or updated product information, it also allows for more accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date information across multiple touch points.

Takeaway: Emphasize the tangible results of a project. Business cases almost always argue for the biggest returns in the most efficient manner possible.

Do talk about the difference

What makes each PIM system different from the rest? To gain an unbiased point of view, business cases should always look at the two previous points, and then decide which vendor best suits a company’s specific goals and needs.

One thing that should be clarified, however, is the urgency and continuous rise of the customer experience trend. A report by Internet Retailing concluded that 69% of consumers expect a hyper-personalized experience across all channels. Consumers are becoming accustomed to brands reaching out to them in personal ways, including product recommendations that have been formulated based upon previous purchases. Companies may want to consider a PIM solution that goes beyond just cleansing and transforming data, but one that also offers contextual and personalized customer experience capabilities.

Takeaway: Each company is different, so business cases should be developed accordingly. That being said, it is crucial to develop business cases on current and rising trends.

Don’t make your audience feel you’re only after their money

Present your business case while being mindful of the company’s needs and goals. Take note that more and more people expect a customer-centric approach. That is: Stakeholders of a company want to believe that they are being offered a solution that is best for their customers, and not just because of money.

Takeaway: Present a strong case for a specific solution and be aware that there is competition.

Don’t leave out the details

What other resources will the company need to implement a PIM solution? Business cases should emphasize – quite clearly – details such as the features of a specific PIM, how long the implementation will take and the product information processes that need to be reassessed.

Takeaway: Business cases get straight to the point and clearly presents what is needed to make the project a success.

All of these might seem daunting at first glance, but what should just be remembered is that business cases detail the specifics of a project, and how a company can benefit from such an endeavor.

How Top Retailers Take Advantage of Omnichannel Opportunities

The lines between consumers’ online and offline lives continue to blur as technology advances. According to Statista, consumers are increasingly using additional screens while watching TV:

This new reality leaves brands with no other choice but to switch to an omnichannel strategy, where consumers get the same experience whether they’re on their desktop, mobile, a tablet, smart watch or using their voice-enabled assistant.

Omnichannel is different from multichannel in that the former requires integration and unity among channels, while the latter employs a separate or siloed approach for each channel.

In an omnichannel approach, consumers are treated to a seamless, consistent and personalized experience at each touchpoint. This means they are enabled to continue their journey where they left it.

Why Walmart, Target and Home Depot rule omnichannel retailing

According to Internet Retailer 2019 Omnichannel Report, Walmart, Target and Home Depot scored the highest in omnichannel services.

Walmart

In 2015, the giant retailer invested $1.2 billion to improve its store experience and digital capabilities. According to Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, “As we build out our e-commerce capabilities, we are deepening our digital relationships with our customers.” This is a reaction to an Accenture study, which revealed that 45% of consumers want to receive real-time promotions on their smartphones or tablets while in-store. Unfortunately, only 28% of retailers deliver this service.

To capitalize on the opportunity, Walmart implemented geofencing technology, wherein they’re alerted once a customer pulls up in their parking lot to pick up an online order. Using the Walmart app, a customer have access to simplified shopping, including locating items quickly, checking prices and accessing weekly ads and coupons.

Another way Walmart is competing and winning in omnichannel is by combining data from both their online and offline stores. They may currently be only second to Amazon as an online retailer, but Amazon is now playing catch up in the brick-and-mortar category. This gives Walmart an edge in personalizing shopping experiences. For more on Walmart’s omnichannel activities, visit their Shopify profile.

Target

Target has a two-app strategy designed to provide customer convenience, whether they’re shopping in-store, online or both. Just like Walmart, they also have a buy online, pickup in-store program, wherein not only can online orders be picked up from the store, but they can be brought out to a designated parking spot where customers are parked and loaded into their vehicle.

The second largest retailer in the US also offers flexible shopping models, including free shipping for all online orders, which customers nowadays consider as a basic service. This is their advantage over Walmart, which has a $35 free shipping threshold.

Target is also testing out their augmented reality (AR) capability through their Beauty Studio available in ten of their stores, as well as on their desktop and mobile sites. Through this feature, consumers can test how they will look with the products, as well as take advantage of concierge services such as advice and product recommendations.

Home Depot

It seems that most big box retailers offer what Home Depot offers, such as click-and-collect, ship-to-store, and ship-from-store, which caters to online orders directly from stores.

But the difference with Home Depot is their focus on big ticket items or “e-commerce unfriendly” products or items that consumers want to see and touch before purchasing. Part of their omnichannel strategy is luring customers in the store through in-store pickup, so their representatives can speak with customers, answer their questions, offer product demos and learn about their pain points.

According to Scott Spata, Vice President of Supply Chain Direct Fulfillment, “A high number of in-store transactions start online, where we can drive customers to the store armed with all the information they could need. Alternatively, they might want to see and touch a product in a showroom before ordering a specific size or color online. However the customer wants to transact, we’ll make it happen on the back end.

In summary, leading big box retailers are leveraging technology in insight gathering and order fulfilment. One of these technologies is a product information management (PIM) solution, which consolidates data from multiple sources to enable businesses to have a single view of rich product data before publishing across their sales channels.

In an age where product returns are high, it’s a must for businesses to have a solution that helps them ensure that only accurate, complete, consistent and up-to-date product information reaches their consumers.

Build your brand by creating personalized customer experiences

As technologies develop to be more customer-focused, so too do business models. Companies are now recognizing the need to deliver an experience that separates them from their competition. With our society increasingly becoming dependent on digital technologies, many customers assume that their vendors offer a seamless experience. This includes a shopping experience wherein all data are shared consistently across all channels, such as images, texts, charts and others. It has become especially crucial to offer this type of engagement, with recent studies showing that more than 50% of retail sales are influenced by online information, regardless of whether a transaction has taken place or not.

This isn’t just a matter of study, either. There are real-life implications to this. In 2017, United Airlines experienced a crisis in their branding, losing $1.4 billion in value practically overnight when a passenger’s poor experience went viral on social media.

It is evident that customer experience is a crucial aspect to business development and growth. A study by Gartner revealed that customer experience is the “most pressing mandate for marketers,” and will lead innovation spending in the next few years. In fact, in the same study, it was found that 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, compared to a mere 34% just a few years ago.

Creating persuasive consumer-facing content to build lasting relationships with customers

Brands typically create content for a product which they share with their distributors and resellers who are then responsible for creating and managing how the product will be marketed to the end-consumer. However, growing technologies have opened a direct-to-consumer channel, effectively cutting out the middle man. Suddenly, brands have to be able to create persuasive consumer-facing content while managing various assets, including unstructured ones such as images, videos and the like. Not only is it imperative to provide high-quality data, the information a company provides needs to be consistent across all sales channels as well. Thus the need for a seamless omnichannel customer experience.

The lack of accurate and up-to-date content can significantly impact how a business is perceived by a customer. A Forbes Insights report  stated that data quality is one of the most important aspects to how confident users feel with their vendors. The quality of data, along with how consistent it is, affects how trusted a vendor is perceived by a customer.

It is not enough to improve data quality and reduce content acquisition cost (although these are very important). The ultimate goal is to make customers staunch advocates of a brand. Brand loyalty is now the focus of engagement, rather than quick-appeal marketing tactics.

Taking product messaging even further

Brands can take their product messaging even further with a new approach called Product Experience Management (PXM). As the name suggests, the platform takes a customer’s preferences to the next level. Brands will be able to ensure that product information is delivered in context, anywhere and at any time – meaning that their customers’ personal needs and interests are taken into account during the interaction. This individualized, yet expansive, approach to consumer engagement ensures that customer relationships are for the long-term. By contextualizing a product experience, there is a higher likelihood of sales conversion. The manufacturing industry, in particular, can benefit from this, as their engagements are typically with repeat clients.

Why it matters

While automating the organization, management and publishing of your product information (a.k.a. PIM) is foundational, PXM delivers your product content in context based on the channel, locale and need of your customers — wherever and whomever they are.

PXM is critical in delivering brand identity and creating an emotional connection with potential clients and repeat customers. Companies deliver a compelling product experience by:

  • Providing complete and accurate content at all times: Customer experience is typically based on the completeness of content found on a website or a mobile app. If customers cannot find complete and consistent product content, chances are they won’t buy it. The same holds true if a specific product is inaccurately described on a website compared to what is found in the physical store.
  • Publishing information in real time: Today’s society appreciates speed. Manufacturers need to get their products to market as fast as they can, especially if the products are sold on a seasonal basis. PXM enables manufacturers to update and publish their product catalogs to their retailer trading partners or distributors in a timely way.
  • Adapting to customers’ expectations: Customers no longer buy at physical stores, but access global marketplaces on their mobile phones and computers. As a consequence of this, there is an expectation that relevant and specific product information is available, in context to a customers’ needs, across all touchpoints. While the buying experience may be different between purchases made in person and online, the need for consistent and relevant information remains a universal requirement.

Remember that while having an attractive website or app is good, more substantial gains can be had if companies optimize their operations with the customer in mind.

Meeting Consumer Expectations – How Prepared Are You?

Meeting Consumer Expectations – How Prepared Are You?

What consumers want [and don’t want] and how prepared are you to meet their demands?

Contrary to reports of retail’s eventual death, the National Retail Federation’s “The State of Retailing Online 2018” study reveals that:

  • More and more stores open than close
  • Investments in omnichannel optimization remains high
  • Mobile retail success continues to climb

In terms of value chain innovation, Deloitte’s “2018 Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Industry Trends Outlook” gives retailers ideas on which technology trends to invest on:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) to provide consumers with online access to their store inventories and reserve orders for purchase or pickup.
  • Digital supply and demand networks for time frame reduction and cost-efficient deliveries.
  • Augmented, virtual, and mixed realities (AR, VR, and MR) for the creation and provision of highly immersive and engaging experiences.

A lot of doors are opening in the retail industry and it could only mean more new products in the market and a much tougher competition ahead for businesses. But no one is complaining; not even the consumers. In fact, with eCommerce sales projected to reach $4 trillion USD by 2020, it’s as if consumers are telling businesses that they’re willing to spend… on one condition: give them what they want.

But before giving them what they want, it’s best to first identify their pain points.

What Consumers Don’t Want

Branding expert, Helen Edwards, shares that there are seven distinct emotions visible in the human face and five of those are negative: anger, fear, sadness, disgust and contempt. And you definitely don’t want any of those to be associated with your brand when they visit your site.

According to Corra, consumers’ biggest pet peeves on ecommerce sites are:

  • 41.2% Poorly designed menu; lack of subcategories for key merchandise
  • 29.8% Too-basic search; no filters for advanced searches
  • 26.4% Products are buried behind too much branding

So, if you can eliminate these pain points, you’re on track to excellent customer experience provision.

What Consumers Want

According to MineWhat, consumers today perform the following online before making a purchase:

  • 81% research
  • 61% read product reviews
  • Check at least three ecommerce sites

What are they looking for? Information, information, information!

But of what sort? A National Retail Federation (NRF) study reveals that consumers don’t just aimlessly browse online; they actually look for something specific to buy and they want to find it quickly. That means before they type anything on the search bar, they already have an item in mind.

The same study also found out that 79% of consumers also factor in overall experience in determining whether or not they’ll buy from a brand or retailer – and how often. Central to that desired or expected experience are painless return policy, free shipping and credit card security.

So, how to cater to today’s consumers? The Nielsen Norman Group recommends to design for 5 types of e-commerce shoppers:

  • Product-focused.This group know what they want and are ready to buy once they locate the product. Speed is this group’s primary focus.
  • Browsers.They have time to kill and they’re spending it on your site. The key to this group is to be presented with what’s hot and what’s new.
  • Researchers. These guys have been to at least two sites before yours or even if you’re their first visit, they will definitely go elsewhere to gather more information. The key to this group is trust.
  • Bargain hunters. Definitely price conscious, this group are on the lookout for sale, promos and best buys. So, if you have such offerings, display them prominently on your site.
  • One-time shoppers. More often holding gift cards, these guys have no intention of coming back to your site after the purchase. Ensure a good experience by not requiring account creation before purchase.

Quiz: How ready are you to give your consumers what they want?

Giving consumers what they want starts from within. The following are some questions you can ask yourself to determine your readiness in providing your consumers with information they need:

  1. Do you struggle with maintaining your products when your product data requirements increase (e.g. rapid and constant product description updates, price and document version edits, etc.)?
  2. Is it difficult to localize your product information for different markets?
  3. Do people in and out of your organization have a tough time sharing or accessing up-to-date product information?
  4. Are you using multiple spreadsheets to manage your product information?

Do you nod at many questions? Then it’s high time for your to consider using a product information management solution (PIM). A PIM is foundational to building great product experiences.

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Fashion Influencer

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

Why the fashion industry should be optimistic about the future and embrace upcoming challenges.

The heyday of fashion is over. This is how a lot of fashion companies in Europe and the US feel, following global issues such as Brexit, current US-China trade disputes and the rise of protectionism on both sides of the Atlantic.

On top of those, a lot of powerful players in the Asian region have left behind their cheap supplier role to directly and confidently challenge their European and American counterparts. And not only are they winning, they’re dominating their domestic markets.

Meanwhile, according to McKinsey´s State of Fashion, emerging new markets such as India and China are developing at a rapid pace and overtaking the established ones.

While India currently has the highest growth rate, China, on the other hand, is now the world’s largest fashion market – ahead of the US.

Source: McKinsey, State of Fashion 2019, p. 26

In today, out tomorrow

Once upon a time, fashion manufacturers dictated how often collections come out and limited them to two a year. Nowadays, consumers not only expect something new all the time, but they drive current trends primarily via social media.

The power of the consumer influencer

Gone are the days when brands rule fashion from up their ivory tower, as today’s consumers have taken over. Self-confident and knowledgeable, millennials and generation Z tell brands what, where, how and when they want something.

Thanks to Amazon, they’re also used to not having to wait long. They use digital channels as a matter of course and have access to a multitude of product information, offerings and inspirations.

Thus, they have usually already made a purchasing decision long before they appear on the radar of companies.

They often don’t even get their inspiration from fashion labels and retailers, but from prominent social media influencers and opinionated peers, with emotional experience as the trigger.

The importance of brand presentation

If today’s consumers are both online and offline and on different channels, it’s essential for fashion brands to ensure a consistent brand image and product presentation on all touch points.

Although the work can be challenging, technologies such as Product Information Management (PIM) can help to centrally manage product data and deliver it to the right touch point – without spending too much time on manual work.

A PIM also has analytics tools that can provide insight into consumer behavior. With this, fashion companies are empowered to deliver a consistent product and brand experience to potential customers and influencers.

Digital channels as game changers

 

Source: McKinsey & Company analysis based on Instagram data, State of Fashion, p 73

Social Media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube or WeChat, is the new showroom. Therefore, “digital first” should be a top priority for all businesses that want to be successful — big fashion brands, start-ups and niche providers, alike.

But unlike established brands, the newcomers are not slowed down by rigid business processes. The small challengers, in particular, are posting through the roof fan base growth rates of up to 300%.

With the help of new technologies, concepts and business models, they react quickly to market conditions and focus on customer interaction.

For them, e-commerce is the way to go, but in addition to their own shops, they also rely on the diverse possibilities of social and mobile commerce to reach consumers on the spot.

Among others, Patagonia uses Pinterest to increase sales opportunities and awareness

Sustainability and trust

In recent years, ethical resource management and humanitarian and social values have increasingly become decision-making criteria for consumers on whether to trust a brand or not.

Whether it’s the collapse of a textile factory in Bangladesh or the burning of unsold collections somewhere else – various scandals involving global brands have left their mark on consumers.

Sustainability, fairness and transparency also play an important role in gaining trust, especially for the millennials and Generation Z.

According to McKinsey´s “State of Fashion 2019 Consumer Shifts”, more than a third of consumers include these points in their purchasing decisions: choice of materials, traceability of the value chain, uniform information and the sustainable use of products.

This can be an opportunity to realign the brand, examine new business areas and show a clear attitude with a consistent appearance. In addition, new technologies such as blockchain can help to document the supply chain seamlessly in the future.

Everlane pursues a sustainable approach and relies heavily on social media.

Using digital technologies

The path of the customer from first contact to purchase or the customer journey consists of a number of contact points. It’s almost impossible to maintain each point manually and, at the same time, provide consistent information.

But systems for the central maintenance, administration and output of product information, copy and media data, such as images and videos, can help to simplify this task enormously.

Analytics and product experience management tools also make it possible to get to know consumers better and provide them with relevant information at the right time.

E-commerce systems, mobile shopping apps, sophisticated search functions and recommendation tools make it as easy as possible for customers to find the product they want and make the purchase.

Partner platforms such as Amazon, Zalando and Otto increase the reach, and social media increases awareness, customer loyalty and the desire to buy.

There’s a lot of opportunities and chances, as well as challenges to tackle in the “Year of Awakening”, as McKinsey´s newest “State of Fashion 2019” calls it. So, it’s time to get down to business with agility, speed and new business ideas.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a PIM

Reasons why you need pim

5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a PIM

The vastness of the martech landscape makes the process of software procurement rather unintuitive. It might be obvious that your company needs to refine its digital strategy, but since all the software vendors you speak with have a logical reason to invest in their product or platform, a sound strategy and direction are needed before you listen to your first pitch.

So how do you begin to build your strategy?

The architect of the building you’re sitting in didn’t begin with the top floor and work his or her way down. Buildings begin with infrastructure. Any digital architect will also tell you to begin with infrastructure and work your way up.

That being said, even digital infrastructure comes in different flavors depending on your business or industry.

If your business is reliant on catalog production, for example, a DAM might be a good foundational building block. If your business is centered around selling inventory online or even offline, then a PIM is a likely candidate to build upon.

Whichever direction you choose to go, it’s vital that you invest wisely, because starting from scratch is rarely an option, as platforms are time-consuming to research and not inexpensive to implement.

By understanding the functionality and limitations of different platforms you can rest easy knowing that you made the correct decision. Below are five reasons why your business needs a PIM.

1. You’re Still Using a Web Content Management (WCM) Solution to Manage Your Products

This is perhaps the most common reason that businesses end up with a PIM. Running your online shop with an e-commerce platform or WCM before you have a PIM is a little like building your first floor before you dig your basement.

E-commerce can technically be used without a Product Information Management, but it’s very hard to scale upward without the strict taxonomy and structure that a PIM inherently solves for.

Because of a PIM’s rule-based classification, matching and linking capabilities, for example, you can ensure high-quality data no matter the volume of data you onboard.

2. You Need a Shorter Time to Market

Having your house in order, so to speak, allows you to go to market quicker with any new products and variations of previous products. About now a light might be going off in your head.

The more SKUs you have, the more important it is to have them organized in a way that can quickly be added, maintained, searched and disseminated. Improving time to market speed requires collaboration from at least three entities: manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

With a PIM’s integrated workflow management capability, processes are automated and smooth collaboration and orchestration are enabled, effectively eliminating elements that slow down time to market.

3. You Want Your Business to be Data-Driven

With 47% of customers saying they would immediately take their business to a competitor the moment they experience poor customer service and 68% more vowing to never do a repeat business once they’ve switched, no wonder customer expectation delivery is critical to 81% of decision-makers.

Hence, the importance of customer insights. But if your product information and digital assets are stored across multiple ecommerce platforms or even local drives, your ability to discern any relevant data from your products is next to impossible.

A PIM allows you to have a 360-degree view from where your products are stored, physically, all the way through the sale and shipment of an item.

Of course, the all-important sales process, which channel is most successful, who is purchasing your products, and even help to refine your target messaging based on user habits and history, is front and center when it comes to PIM development.

4. You Take Personalization Seriously

A mere online presence isn’t good enough anymore. Now consumers expect a tailored experience no matter where they visit on the Internet. In fact, 74% of online consumers don’t appreciate content that has nothing to do with them.

If you can’t place relevant products in front of your target audience then they will simply purchase elsewhere, or not at all, as proper product placement can entice even a passive looker to make an impulsive buying decision.

With a PIM’s analytics and digital asset management capability, you can create remarkable content based on personas, campaigns and insights from product information and digital asset association.

5. You Value Happy Customers

It’s common knowledge that it costs much more to attain a customer than to retain a customer.

By having control of your SKUs from the warehouse through the buying cycle and to the front door, you can ensure that your customers aren’t getting the wrong size or color and that they’ll be as satisfied with the buying experience as they are with the end product.

Why the emphasis on experience? Because more than price and product, customer experience will be the key brand differentiator come 2020.

You know your business better than any software vendor ever could. To build your digital presence properly, having an idea of where to begin is the first step to a successful procurement process.

Once your foundation is in place, you can scale with the knowledge that the assets that your business needs to succeed are fully functional and carrying out a strategy designed for your business.