Tag: ecommerce

5 Considerations in the Consumer Buying Journey

5 Considerations in the Consumer Buying Journey

As a business, rather than concern yourself with how to sell, why not put yourself in consumer’s shoes and explore the reasons why you buy. So, in this article, I’d like us to take a new approach and look at things from the consumer’s point of view.

The thing about fashion is that it’s more often a luxury rather than a necessity. For example, you “need a shirt”, but you “don’t need a designer shirt”, and the same can be said for any article of clothing or accessories. But this isn’t to deny the existence of brand conscious people or those who think having a branded item is a need. The significance of this distinction is when someone is buying something they want, not need, they have more flexibility to make decisions.

So, what’s going through their minds as they head down their path to fashion? While this article isn’t about the psychology behind what makes people desire expensive things, and certainly all fashion is not overtly expensive, a good place to start is asking yourself why you do. Envision your own buyer’s journey and consider that many people think similarly to you. Let’s take a look at five important things to keep in mind about the buyer’s journey:

1. The Customer Journey Is No Longer Linear

Marketers used to have a linear mindset. It was marketing’s job to map out the path a consumer would take and to control the narrative. Today, it’s still marketing’s job to control the narrative, but mapping a consumer’s path is simply no longer possible. Consumers are now just too savvy and have too many options to even consider going down a brand’s narrow path to content.

So, in today’s climate, your goal is to put the right product in front of the right person, rather than every product in front of everyone. A person’s journey to buy a shirt, for example, does not begin with a pair of pants. It begins with a search on an e-commerce site or possibly on Google for a shirt. The journey has taken place in their head before they fired up their laptop.

Getting people to your product pages is your number one priority today. Consumers don’t care about you, they care about the product you’re selling. With loyalty at an all-time low, it’s obvious that a strategy that requires a linear journey will no longer work. Marketing needs to realize that the content that needs to be front and center is the product content itself.

That being said, customer acquisition costs roughly five times what retention costs. So, after the first transaction, it’s important that you have a tactical marketing strategy that includes special offers and continual awareness, on top of, delivering a quality product the first time around.

2. Fashion First

The good news for the fashion industry is that when people begin their online journey it’s likely to be for something in the fashion category. According to a McKinsey study, approximately 30% of new online shoppers start with apparel and footwear. Add to that the fast fashion market that sees online shopping as not different from a trip to the mall. It could be argued that e-commerce and fast fashion work together to make each other trendy. Just look at the people on their MacBooks at a coffee shop. Do you think they’re not making a fashion statement?

It’s also worth noting that 85% of product searches begin either on Amazon or Google. Therefore, search, both organic and paid, is a vital investment to make to ensure that consumers are able to find you. Once found, you can start offering personalized experiences. With a staggering 43% of purchases being influenced by personalized recommendations or promotions and 75% of consumers preferring to be marketed to with personal messaging, it’s essential that you have a plan once they do land on one of your product pages.

3. People Want What They Pay For

Oddly enough, when someone buys something online, they’d like the actual product to resemble the product depicted online. If they don’t get that, they’d feel a bit cheated. One reason that stores with a strong physical presence do well with online sales is that it’s easy to return items bought online. The difficulty of returning items is likely the last major barrier to people shopping online, but once that conundrum is solved the fear of a bad purchase will no longer be a hindrance. The cost of returns is also a huge issue. Online purchases are returned at a rate of 15 to 40 percent, which is roughly $400 billion worth of inventory.

While it’s a hassle to return items bought online, a substantial amount of it is still being returned. Certainly, there is a combination of factors when it comes to returning wardrobe pieces, such as the challenge of finding the right size without first trying it on and the shirt that doesn’t quite match the pants that has been envisioned. That being said, while there is no way to eliminate returns, accurate product descriptions and realistic portrayals would surely go a long way in reducing the number of returns, therefore saving you and your customer the headache of the return procedure and upping your chances of retaining your customer.

4. Easily Influenced

Consumers might have the upper-hand during the buying process, but that doesn’t mean that they want to go it alone! Instead of hearing directly from you, though, they want to buy proven items. Influencers in some form are part of the customer journey 84% of the time.

In fashion, people tend to buy what other people make fashionable, but how can they know what’s fashionable? They learn the same way we’ve always have — by looking at what celebrities or influencers are wearing. Remember “The Rachel”, from the TV show “Friends”, haircut in the 1990s? The only difference between Jennifer Aniston on Friends and influencers today is the medium, which is now social media, most notably Instagram. (The stats on Instagram as an influencer channel are pretty amazing and you can check them out here.) Advertising may have moved from the inside of magazines and television commercials to social sites, but that does not mean that it’s not an important part of today’s customer journey.

5. …Yet, Still Price Sensitive

With brands like Zara who are able to get clothes from design to shelves in only two weeks, there’s no doubt that quality takes a bit of a hit in the sake of trendiness. The good news for consumers is that for stores to continually restock their shelves they first have to sell what’s on them. And to ensure that things sell quickly, good deals appear from seemingly everywhere. This new trend called fast fashion has allowed consumers to keep up with the latest fashions and has also spoiled them with low costs.

The apparel industry’s market size is expected to top $1.65 trillion in 2020, up from $1.05 trillion in 2011. Industries don’t grow that fast if they only cater to the high-end consumer. Fast fashion has made it feasible for people to buy outfits for any occasion and in many cases have no plans of wearing it twice. Which means the circle will continue on and on for many consumers on the fashion buyer’s journey.

There’s a lot to consider when you consider the customer’s point of view during their journey. From how it can begin anywhere to the people influencing them to make decisions and, like most industries, budget concerns. While a lot of thought needs to go into your strategy to ensure that you are addressing your prospects along the way, by considering your own motives you already have a good idea on how to address each stage of the process.

How digital transformation affects the fashion industry:

Download our eBook “Digital Transformation in the Fashion Industry”

Why Fashion Retail Should Go Online First

Why Fashion Retail Should Go Online First

Looking at global sales figures, retail is still a model of success. However, there has been a massive shift from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce. The reason is fairly simple: the fashion industry is focusing on consumer behavior – and consumers are increasingly staying online. Plus, the apparel industry in particular, is currently generating the highest revenues from e-commerce on a global level. So, if a fashion company is aiming for a long-term success, integrating digital channels within the ecosystem is imperative.

Added value is worth it

Fashion brands are given two ways to communicate with their customers: online and offline. Based on this there are endless touch points made to get in contact with consumers. In the digital age, however, the encounter with a brand increasingly takes place online and in most cases long before a purchase actually takes place. This in turn has a profound impact on the way a potential customer searches, finds and evaluates products. The business model must adapt to this changing user behavior in order to be successful. Playing the digital keys consistently and confidently, delivers a whole range of advantages:

  • Scope and customer base are expanding due to online-business. 4.3 billion Internet users thus become potential customers of the clothing industry in one fell swoop.
  • Location, time and mood are not showstoppers for the shopping tour. After work in front of the TV, from the bathtub or simply on the road, consumers can find everything they need without restrictions and can quickly get an overview of availability and pricing.
  • Relevant content can be applied on the web without limit: Next to context-optimized product information, additional content like blogs, videos, reviews, recommendations and more can play a decisive role in creating a convincing product experience; thus forcing a willingness to buy.
  • Multiple touch points facilitate the decision-making as e-commerce is not only a single online shop. Consumers leaving a shop without a purchase? That´s not necessarily the end of the story. You can keep up the awareness and remind them of their product choices throughout different touch points, channels and devices to positively influence their purchase decisions.
  • Social media is key to emotions. Platforms such as Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest influence people´s gut feeling and self-esteem, thus justifying purchase decisions. Also social media is a great opportunity to actively interact and engage with consumers – and to set up a direct relation to a brand’s online shop.
  • Marketplaces like Amazon, Asos or Stylebop allow brands to use powerful additional sales channels to distribute products on a large scale.
  • Knowing your customer is necessary in order to meet their preferences. Online channels allow businesses to track and analyze their customers’ full digital footprint and to convert this knowledge into more targeted communication. The better the resulting customer experience, the more likely consumers will be willing to provide their data – which enables brands to learn even more about them.

Opening up an online flagship store

Those who assume great customer experience is only relevant for in-store shops are very much mistaken. Nowadays, a customer-centric approach is essential for every touch point. Thus, an online shop needs to be much more than just a digitalized catalog. Dealing with a large assortment of products and no opportunity to physically try them out requires innovative approaches to boost product experience. The basics are already set: ordering straight from the branch for home delivery, convenient product returns, and free and fast delivery. Now comes the fun.

Zalando: Close up images

The fashion industry strives to make in-store customer services available online. The virtual service shows up in different ways: products are shown as closeup images, worn by different models, 3-D animations or in short video clips – to present different perspectives. In order to ensure that customers get the best possible product experience – and to reduce the number of returns – it also comes down to a solution for a helpful size guide. The most innovative ones support them in finding the right fit without the need for a dressing room. To give a few examples: Asos and Thirdlove are using a list of detailed questions to recommend a personalized size, based on individual conditions, as well as previous purchases and experiences. Macy´s gives concrete explanations via video, while Mr. Spex evolves by enabling customers to virtually try on glasses.

Zalando: Same item worn by different models

PRETTYLITTLETHING: Catwalk video

 

Macy´s Fit guide for men

Mr. Spex: Try on glasses virtually

Expanded shopping opportunities through individualization

Established brands, with their own chain of stores, are expected to have an online presence. But consumer demands are going much further today. Personalization has become a decisive factor. Customer data, purchase and search behavior – gives reliable conclusions about consumers´ preferences in order to optimize marketing and sales processes. In the long term, this will allow brands and retailers to address individuals with targeted real-time offers – that are relevant and in context.

Technical foundation for your data

Fashion companies will need the right technological infrastructure to achieve this status. Deeply integrated systems allows companies to optimize their communication by integrating data from multiple sources and quickly distributing rich, high-quality product information from a single source across all channels – a major requirement for customer loyalty.

There are numerous software solutions on the market that claim to help solving challenges in marketing products – but to efficiently support online channels, a product information management system would be the core of any digital strategy. As a central repository, a PIM system can help you easily integrate product data from different sources, enrich and localize it, and publish up-to-date product information into connected systems like e-shops, e-fulfillment and content management systems as well as to platforms like Amazon, eBay or Alibaba.

Mobile shopping

Since online shopping becomes more and more a mobile phenomenon this holds another vast chance. Today, almost everything comes together on a mobile device even if it is primarily used for communication – especially via social media. This paves the way for companies to step into their customers´ private life. Thanks to Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, it´s much easier for fashion brands to engage with consumers – an ideal foundation to inspire, inform and incite them. A successful social and mobile strategy goes above and beyond just a simple presence in certain social networks or delivering a mobile app that is just a mobile rendering of their website. Fashion brands are able to connect different touch points – using social media as a sales channel in e-commerce and mobile commerce.

Journey to success

The customer journey does not follow a linear curve but is rather formed individually by a number of touch points. Technological developments are enabling even more to connect online and offline steps to that journey. QR-codes make it possible to call up product information, mobile apps allow easier product search and purchasing, while stores offer pick up same day. Consumers appreciate the comfort-level and differences of online shopping, but they don’t plan to renounce the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. The main challenge for brands is keeping an eye on further innovations to create a cohesive omnichannel shopping experience – with the consumer at the center of all efforts.

 

How tools can help you with personalization demands:
PIM – The Foundation for Personalization and Digital Transformation

Fashion on the Move – Disruption as an Opportunity

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 2019, 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 2019, 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.

 

Learn more: Fashion Industry by the Numbers

 

3 Key Steps to Winning Consumer Trust on the Product Page

3 Key Steps to Winning Consumer Trust on the Product Page

Getting consumers to your product page and getting them to purchase your products are two different things. The average ecommerce conversion rate hovers just below the three percent mark. That’s not quite three people out of every 100 visitors to your product pages are purchasing. So, you can’t afford to turn off any would-be buyers and they would be if your pages aren’t relevant enough.

Relevancy is more than a product match with a consumer. Unless you sell a very niche item, your product would also be available from a number of retailers. Anything from a shirt to a car can be bought across hundreds of sites across the web. One of the key pillars to relevancy on the web is trust, which makes a lot of sense since buying something online is somewhat final. (Even the easiest return policies are somewhat tedious, which is a reason why retailers with a strong brick-and-mortar presence tend to have better online performance.)

How do you convince consumers that you are trustworthy when they land on your product page? Below are three time-tested and proven techniques to make trust the key pillar on your product page.

STEP 1: Product Reviews

It should be no surprise that people trust other consumers more than they trust a brand. One survey states that 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Reviews prominently displayed on your product pages will give people the peace of mind to make purchases.

What about negative reviews, you might ask? Most consumers are smart enough to realize that not every product is a great fit for everyone. Some people are more vocal than others and sometimes they’ll leave unflattering reviews of your products. Read them and take action, but don’t delete them. A bunch of five-star reviews is just as damaging as having no reviews at all. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative feedback only, so if they can’t find it there will be an even greater chance of mistrust.

Your product will speak for itself over time if it’s sold enough, but until then, be thankful for reviews left on your site. Think of them as a little bit of free content marketing from the people that matter most, your customers.

STEP 2: Authentic Photography

The first thing that should come to most product marketers is quality photography. But, quality photography and authentic photography are two different things. How many fast food restaurant commercials have you seen with amazing looking food only to be dismayed when you order the same thing at the restaurant? Those commercials don’t exactly exude trust, do they?

What exudes trust are user-generated content (UGC) like Instagram posts. Because consumers crave authentic photos so much, they take photos themselves to share with their peers via the platform. It became a phenomenon, so a social media agency based in New York gathered and analyzed data, and found out that “Instagram-style”photos increase conversion rate by 25% more than professional product shots.

A professional photographer can make anything look great, and they should, but, consumers expect to get the same thing they see online. If they don’t, and instead got a slightly worse variation, then your product pages will have the same amount of trust as a fast food commercial.

STEP 3: Knowing Your Customer

Perhaps the quickest way to earn trust is to know someone and help them solve a problem. While most products can be found across the web, they’re mostly flashed in front of you as if the product itself is enough reason to buy it. Typically, a person is swayed to spend money on something that solves a problem for them.

How do you know the problem that your customer is trying to solve? That takes persona research and the ability to display variants and suggestions based on who is searching for what. Once you figure out your persona pain points, then you can solve for those and offer your solution on the right touchpoints at the right time. By solving their problem, you’ve gained their trust. Personalization is so effective that according to Accenture, 58% of consumers are more likely to buy from a shop that offers items based on their history.

There are many other ways to prove your trustworthiness, but your product page is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Most people aren’t concerned with your corporate messaging and the educational sales funnel that might be set up. When they land on a product page you have a small window to prove that you are worthy of them going through the sales process. That’s done with relevancy, authenticity, and with proof from the people that came before.

How Product Information Management could help you.

How Product Data Can Increase Your ROI

How Product Data Can Increase Your ROI

Data is the new gold.  We all know this.  But how can you use data to fully optimize your business? 

You have data on customers, employees, processes and especially your products. We’ve already talked about how you can use your customer data for personalization and to increase sales in an earlier blog post in this series. But what if we told you that your product data could help you just as much, and maybe even more? That you could use it to reduce costs, speed time-to-market and future-proof your business model?

Getting a Grip on Your Product Data

Before you can start harnessing the power of your product data, you have to first organize it. When we talk to a company about their data, we notice that it’s often scattered throughout the whole organization. Person A, for example, has an Excel file, Department B has built something in their ERP, while person C has yet another Excel file… But which system contains the latest versions?

That’s where Product Information Management systems or PIM will save the day. Simply put, these databases are designed to hold, manage and distribute product data across all channels and departments. Most connect to a CMS and publish data in your web shop. Some also connect to a print plugin that makes generating catalogues much easier.  All ensuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your product specifications.

Shortening Your Time-To-Market with a PIM

Robust PIM systems come with a portal that is built specifically for your suppliers to onboard their data. If you’re a retailer or wholesaler, this will be a familiar scenario: One of the brands that you offer releases a new product and you plan on selling it through your online store. How long does this process currently take you?

With a PIM system, the supplier could already fill in most of their specifications in the system themselves. Once one of your employees verifies the data and, if needed, makes some adjustments, it’s uploaded, then you’re good to go. Of course, you don’t have to worry about suppliers seeing things they shouldn’t see. Their view is restricted to the data of their own products.

This means that you will only have to spend a few minutes to make sure that a product is ready to be published on your store. Additionally, edits can be done so much faster than before. In roughly eight minutes a product can be updated, processed and published online, which is roughly 30% shorter than it is for most companies. In a time where speed is of utmost importance, this could give you a significant advantage against your competitors.

Catching the Wave of the Long Tail

However, an increased speed isn’t the only advantage. You can finally make use of what’s called “the long tail of the Internet”. In essence, companies that adopt a long tail strategy dramatically increase their product assortment through niche products. These products then come with higher margins. Since the cost of adding them to your online  store is much lower than they used to be, it’s a good investment – even if you don’t sell a lot.

Since these niche items often don’t get a lot of traffic, they don’t tend to receive much love and care from the product data teams. Other products that drive more traffic will always be a priority. However, now that the suppliers can do a part of that work for you, it’s far easier to manage the quality of the data and imagery that’s being displayed.

Saving Money on Returns

Returns are an enormous source of cost for many companies. According to Trusted Shops, fashion has to deal with a return rate of up to 30%. The logistical costs and man-hours that have to be invested to handle the entire return process can quickly start to eat into your revenue.

The best solution for your problems with returns would be to offer higher-quality data on your product pages. Through a PIM system, your data would be more consistent, complete and contain less errors. These three factors would immensely decrease your amount of returns.

Are you curious as to what else product data and PIM can do for your business? Then sign up for the joint webinar between Osudio and Contentserv! Contentserv is a worldwide leading software provider for PIM solutions

In our webinar “Embrace product experience to win in Fast Moving Consumer Goods”, we will talk about how you can leverage your product data, not only to drive more revenue, but also to provide tailored experiences for your customers.

 

Sign up for our webinar: “Embrace Product Experience to Win in FMCG”

 

This blog was written by Brecht Beertens from our partner Osudio and is part of a four-part series of blogs focusing on the FMCG market in 2019.

E-commerce’s Growth Skyrockets. Are You Ready for Change?

E-Commerce’s Growth Skyrockets. Are You Ready for Change?

“By 2037 e-commerce will overtake traditional commerce.” That’s the harsh reality according to Nielsen in their report “Future Opportunities in FMCG Ecommerce”. The year 2037 might seem like it’s still far off, but it’s a reality that will surely come. E-commerce is everyone’s highest priority and this report tells us that it will dominate even further in the years to come. That’s why it’s time to start evaluating and reinvesting in your e-commerce solution now, so that you’ve done your fair share of optimizing by 2037. Where should you start? There are a few tools you’ll need to look at to make yourself ready for the changes to come.

What will change?

Quite a lot, actually. At the moment, there are plenty of new technologies that are worming their way into the consumer’s daily life. An example would be voice technology. As Google, Amazon and Alibaba continue to improve their speech recognition algorithms, which has pushed past an impressive 95% word accuracy rate for the English language, more languages will follow soon enough.

This technology combined with home devices and modern smartphones open so many possibilities when it comes to commerce. And we haven’t even touched upon the other new kids on the block such as VR, AI, and mobile payments…

All of these advancements are predicted to give e-commerce that final push to overthrow brick-and-mortar stores. However, this also means that there’ll be more and more channels to distribute your product through, so keeping your messaging consistent across all channels is incredibly important. How are customers supposed to trust a brand that says one thing on Facebook and another on their website? This makes omnichannel commerce an enormous challenge for many companies today. What more once even more channels are added?

Even today, 80% of the citizens of Western Europe are actively buying online every month according to the Ecommerce Foundation. But before you learn how to run, you have to learn how to walk. By improving your e-commerce now, you can make sure that your omnichannel strategy is up to speed and sustainable for growth going into 2037. That way, you can offer a complete and consistent experience to your customers as soon as possible.

Preparing for e-commerce growth

Many organizations have already made great strides in the digital world. On the flip side, there are also companies that haven’t. Let’s assume your organization is part of the latter group. What do you do? How do you make sure that you are ready for 2037? No worries, we’ll break it down into some easy-to-digest steps. That way, you’ll know where you have to start your journey to omnichannel success.

1. Make sure your data is under control

First of all, you’ll want to make sure that your data is fully under control. If you make mistakes here, you’re sure to hit a brick wall in your e-commerce growth. A customer needs to be able to trust your store, which is why you need to make sure you provide a fitting and consistent experience for them. Supplying them with incorrect or outdated information will definitely throw a wrench into your relationship with your customers.

Let’s say your business sells furniture. If the sizes of a cupboard are wrong on your website, you can rest assured that you’ll receive quite a large amount of complaints. How would you feel if you ordered your dream cupboard online, only to find out that it’s one centimeter too high to fit into your room while assembling it? If you invest in a good PIM solution, you can rest assured that this won’t happen to your customers. At least, for the things they buy from your store.

2. Choose your e-commerce solution

Once your data has been whipped into shape, it’s time to take a look at your ecommerce solution. This one’s a hard choice to make. Do you want to settle for one big monolithic solution that takes care of everything out-of-the-box? Or would you prefer the flexibility of an API-based approach? There are differences for you as a company and the way you’ll work with it. If we’re going to continue with the furniture store example, this is just where a customer would buy your furniture online.

Of course, there are more nuances to picking the right platform. Depending on the needs of your business, the chosen system can be completely different. In the end, this is not a decision that should be taken lightly. If you still want to learn more about this, I recommend checking out our whitepaper “The Ecommerce Selection Handbook”, as this is not the main focus of this article.

3. Connect 1 and 2, then start personalizing

You might think you’re finished now, but no. You’ve only got your basics covered, and there’s still much work to be done. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be proud of where you are now! You can sell your products online and you can be sure that all your information is standardized and correct. That’s quite a feat already! But there’s still work to be done. Now that the foundation has been laid, it’s time to start optimizing!

Take a good look at your website and e-commerce store. Is everything clear? To you, it might be. But what about that first-time visitor to your website? Do they know what to do? Try to look at it from their perspective. Try to gather as much data as you can. Check your preferred web analytics tool, look for market research and try to conduct your own interviews and A/B tests.  Once you know what people want and where it goes wrong, it’s time to start incorporating what you’ve learned.

Make sure you don’t lose track of your other channels, though! If you’ve noticed a softer tone-of-voice works better and update your website, update your other media, too! You could compare your brand to a person here. If a person treats you completely differently in certain situations, you probably won’t trust him or her. It’s the exact same for customers and brands. That’s why consistency is key across all of your channels.

Improving your store is a never-ending process. There’s always something to optimize or something to recheck. The sooner you get started, the more things will have been done by 2037.

Personalizing experiences for e-commerce growth

After all of this, we still haven’t touched upon personalizing content. Whether it’s an introductory message for a first-time visitor or even different content based on which website the visitor is coming from. It might sound like science-fiction to some, but a good omnichannel strategy that is focused on product experience makes it all possible. According to research by Sitecore, personalizing customer experience can lead to an increase of 19% in digital conversions.

Check out this video by Sitecore if you want more info:

Your store also has room for personalization if you want to get the most out of your e-commerce solution. The “product recommendations”, the “often bought togethers” or the “users also looked at” sections. They’re nothing to scoff at! Thirty-five percent of e-commerce giant Amazon’s sales comes from their perfectly optimized recommendation engine. That’s a rough 62.2 billion dollars’ worth of revenue, for those wondering.

Your connected PIM and the personas defined in your CMS make it easy to keep all your personalization efforts consistent across the board. Focus on product experiences and do the work that needs to be done to build the entire experience. Then push it to your system and present a potential customer with a total product experience. Doing so will cause him or her to start to trust your information and your company. What is part of that product experience? Is it only the sizes and technical details of the cupboard you provide? Or does it have more aspects? We’ll discuss the essential parts of product experience in our upcoming webinar.

 

Sign up for our webinar: “Embrace Product Experience to Win in FMCG”

 

This blog was written by Brecht Beertens from our partner Osudio and is part of a four-part series of blogs focusing on the FMCG market in 2019.

Customer and Product Experience at 350,000 Transactions Per Second

Singles Day Burns Up the Wires

With “Singles Day” breaking another year of all-time records it’s a unique repeatable situation that stretches the imagination of many commerce organizations. Where the basecamp for this year over year growth success can be found in positive customer and product experiences.

In terms of numbers, last year was already mindboggling with over 800 million transactions in 24 hours. This year the number even excelled itself as more than $31b was generated – of which alone the first 10% in the first 5 minutes! But it doesn´t only refer to a monetary aspect. When you take a look on all this from a technical perspective, just imagine the pressure on the tech stack and the organizations behind all this. Fascinating!

It´s All About the Experience

Not even 10 years ago Alibaba connected the singles day to the commercial success we know today. The year over year growth could only be as successful as it is if the overall customer experience is positive and people get the product experience they are after. Without these two main factors Singles Day would never become as successful as it is today.

Thus, what makes a great customer experience? It’s actually more about the perception that the customer has with the brand. In many of the big commerce hubs like Alibaba, Amazon and local others the customer connects through these hubs because of the brand experience they offer. Where the context of each customer interaction plays a tremendous role in shaping the customer experience. This starts often at the first touchpoints with the brand and ends with the product experience, where if this last point isn’t managed correctly it will get returned.

All that leading to one decisive fact: Managing the product experience is key! How often haven’t we all ordered something online (with and/or without proper vetting the options) only to get disappointed when delivery takes place. Commerce hubs and their suppliers are on the hook for shaping the experience. And offering a contextual product experience can not only create a better customer experience, it can reduce costs greatly.

What happens if you don’t offer a great experience?

Roughly 30% of all orders get shipped back, simple because they don’t live up to the expected product experience – which according to a study from UPS can eat into 20-65% of the costs of an organization. Apart from the financial position, consider the effect on the consumers. Although returning products gets easier every year, as an organization you can only get away with this bad experience so many times before your customer chooses an ecommerce shop that makes good on the end-to-end experience.

Being in Marketing Operations myself with a love for technology on how it can help the business, of course we will take a look at the technology supporting all this. But it comes down to the main following:

  • Alibaba’s Cloud solution including autonomous scaling
  • AI and machine learning for display advertising
  • Several solutions to optimize the customer and product experience, including
    • AI powered fashion mix-and-match suggestions based on product images and deep product information
    • Virtual fitting rooms to try the product before purchasing

Over the years Alibaba made full use of futurized technologies, always focused on delivering amazing customer and product experiences. By overdelivering year over year on the experience Alibaba was able to again pull of a smooth Singles Day obliviating previous years and offering a great experience to returning customers and a whole new generation of long lasting new customers.