All posts by Medha Pratap

Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing

Back to the Future of The Evolution of E-Commerce – Part 1

Hide your stocking stuffers and savor sips of eggnog…2017 is here! Ecommerce continues to grow rapidly, but with the huge market acting as a magnet to brands large and small, competition will ramp up faster than the total growth of the market.  This means that customers will be harder to win, easier to lose and fussier on price and user experience.

The Future of Retail? Look Into The Past

Have you ever heard the saying “You can’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been?” We will take a look back on the high-impact trends that shaped 2016 and will likely drive 2017 forward.

  • Demand for Complete and Accurate Product Content: Having a great product is truly only step one of the equation. More and more companies are presenting new content regularly, and in unique and compelling ways that not only garner consumer  attention, but  also engage to forge an emotional connection for the consumer to the brand.  

88% of consumers say that detailed product content is extremely important to their purchasing decision (Google Shopping Guide 2016).

Good product content (descriptions, feature bullets, images, videos, reviews) that helps consumers by being informative, educational, and/or inspirational will increase sales and loyalty dramatically over time. Product content is now more important than the product itself. Consumers demand to know exactly what they are buying – and the right content makes for a rich consumer experience, and ultimately makes the consumer hit ‘Buy Now’.  

  • Multi-Channel Makes or Breaks a Business: Shoppers who interact with more than one channel spend 18% to 36% more than those who interact with a single channel (Bazaarvoice 2012).  Customers expect to use all channels as though they are a single experience, requiring tight integration across those channels. Retailers have had  the logistics and physical stores in place, and continue to invest in the physical store experience they are supplementing this with online channels to expand their reach.

Recognizing this, many retailers have pushed to check off all the multichannel boxes: robust physical presence, e-commerce site, social channels, and mobile apps. All of these elements are important, but their mere existence doesn’t ensure success. Understanding the importance of integration of dynamic ecommerce capabilities across all channels and devices is crucial. It’s now clear that the big winners will be the retailers that can blend the online and offline— the digital and the physical—into one seamless, omnichannel shopping experience.

References

1 Google Shopping Guide, 2016

3 “Four social trends already changing your business.” Bazaarvoice. June 2012. http://www.bazaarvoice.com/research-and-insight/white-papers/Four-social-trends-already-changing-your-business-2012-trends-report.html

It’s The Holiday Season for Omni-Channel Retail

We know it’s only October, but believe it or not, a survey by CreditCard.com says that 1 percent of Americans, or 34 million Santas, say they are done with their shopping. Already. Before the first week of October.  Whether these folks are looking for bargains or are just hyper-organized, experts say those who had their Christmas shopping wrapped up before fall officially arrived likely made their purchases online.  

What about the remaining 99%?  They’ll be shopping, too. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the National Retail Federation announced that it anticipates holiday sales to increase 3.6% to $655.8 billion.  While in-store purchases will continue to dominate, with 91% of holiday shoppers planning to spend at physical stores, that leaves about 8% or so shopping online (though about 85% of holiday shoppers will likely research online before making in-store purchases). Clearly, holiday shoppers are expecting an omni-channel experience this season with physical and digital retail converging, trying to get consumers to spend.

According to The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), “shoppers intend to take advantage of the diverse options for shopping, spending across channels. Most prominently, consumers are reliant upon omni-channel retailers versus pure play online or solely physical retailers.”

Brands and retailers will have lots to do in order to drive higher conversion rates, so here’s a quick hit list of reminders:

  • Go Digital: Centralize and digitize product content for omni-channel.
  • Get Discovered: Connect with new buyers and category managers to create new opportunities.
  • Sell Everywhere: Showcase and promote products on any channel.
  • Deliver Content Efficiently: Engage and integrate product information with Omni-channel customers.

It’s a crowded omni-channel world especially during the holidays! Can all of this happen in time to take advantage of the anticipated big boost in holiday spending? Absolutely. 1WorldSync omni-channel solutions can help your products stand out and engage the elevated expectations of seasonal shoppers.

How The Consumer Experience is Driven by “I Need to Know Moments”

According to Forrester’s 2015 Customer Experience Index (Forrester, 2015), 86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% of brands even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers.

Today’s omni-channel consumers expect brands to address their needs in real-time and turn to their mobile devices when contemplating making a purchase.  A wealth of information is a mere tap away via our smartphone apps and a poor experience can be easily replaced with another viable option a click away.

These intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping have fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time “I want to buy” micro-moments of decision-making and preference-shaping, as termed by Google.  

Today’s Shoppers Demand Information Right Here & Right Now

Welcome to the new world order of 24/7 great expectations shaped by customers who expect to be able to make more intent driven decisions with a seamless experience.

Today’s shoppers demand product information in real-time. Whether it be trusted and authentic reviews, product photos or nutritional information, as consumers we’ve come to want exceptional experiences exactly when and where we want it.  And nowhere is it more apparent than in retail.  

  • Fully stocked shelves bursting with variety? Done.  
  • Loyalty program? Goes without saying.  
  • Free overnight delivery? Naturally.  

But these great expectations go beyond the “what” and are firmly rooted in the “how.”  And that’s all about “Omni-channel” being touted as shopping’s new norm.  The bar has been raised and the expectations are clear.  Consumers expect that retailers will/better deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Reality for Retailers

For the retailer, omni-channel requires overlapping to ensure that the customer remains delighted and perceives a seamless experience from end to end. Helping a customer through their entire buyer’s journey means knocking down internal barriers to hold their hand at each stage, making sure that each hand-off is perfect. (BigCommerce, 2016)

An Aberdeen survey (Internet Retailer, 2013) cites that companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

Fortunately, many online retailers and suppliers have already enabled omni-channel functions and are clearly seeing the benefits. They’ve made the required investments in understanding their consumers’ needs and then tailored the rest of the organization to meeting those needs.

It’s An Omni-Channel World After All: Engaging Consumers and Connecting Trusted Product Data Everywhere

By enabling products to stand out in a crowded omni-channel world, 1WorldSync delivers rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium. 1WorldSync’s Omni-Channel solutions helps leading retailers capitalize on product information to drive conversion.  

Walmart is one such retailer that views the omni-channel shopper as its sweet spot. At its annual shareholders meeting last year, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon addressed the importance of an omni-channel strategy (Marketing Land, 2015). He said that Walmart will keep making technology top of mind when it comes to internal and external customer facing initiatives.

“I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they’re two separate things. The customer doesn’t think of it that way, and we can’t either. One customer can shop with us in so many different ways – in stores, on their phones, at homes, a pick-up point. But they just think they’re shopping at Walmart, at ASDA, at Sam’s Club.”

Exceeding Expectations and Creating Stellar Experiences For Omni-Channel Customers

Conversely, there are countless other retailers that are lagging behind – whether they’ve taken a few wrong turns or are just late to the game.  The consumer’s great expectation remains regardless.

A survey by Synthetix (Synthetix, 2016) indicates that 9 out of 10 customers expect to receive a consistent experience over multiple channels. They expect a valuable, memorable and story-worthy experience.  They expect detailed and consistent product content to aid in decision making.  They expect to see this same level of detail when shopping for another product in another department. They expect a single view with a wide array of efficient and convenient options. And they expect to shop at any time from any number of devices – such as their PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Clearly, given the consumer’s mighty requirements for an integrated omni-channel shopping experience, retailers and suppliers must move quickly to deliver on those soaring expectations or risk the curse of any industry irrelevance.

 

  1. “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015 – Forrester.” 6 Oct. 2016<https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482>
  2.  “Omni-Channel Retail and The Future of Commerce – BigCommerce.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/>
  3. “Why an omnichannel strategy matters – Internet Retailer.” 2013. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/12/31/why-omnichannel-strategy-matters>
  4. “Walmart positioned to drive omni-channel marketing in global retailing.” 2015. 5 Aug. 2015 <http://marketingland.com/walmart-positioned-drive-omni-channel-marketing-global-retailing-137007>
  5. “The rise of demand for multi-channel online customer service – Synthetix.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <http://www.synthetix.com/website_documents/Synthetix_Online_Customer_Service_Survey_2012.pdf>