When online shopping first hit the scene, it was seen as another channel to drive conversions. Point, click, shop — e-commerce hubs promised to make the buying experience more accessible by giving customers access to products all over the world and the ability to compare different options without having to go to a physical store. However, with the impact of COVID-19, this model of online commerce as just a translation of your physical store to the web is obsolete. The 2020 pandemic has disrupted the long-standing trends of both B2B and B2C commerce, accelerated digital revenue streams and caused people to change how they want to interact with brands. With store closures and reduced capacity, people are shifting to self-service shopping models, contactless delivery and mobile and voice ordering.
Customers still expect the fast, intuitive experiences digital channels promise, but are now increasingly seeking those personal, human connections they used to get from visiting a local antique shop or picking up their morning coffee. These days, legacy industries like retail and CPG are facing competition from direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that promise an intimate and customized experience. DTC leaders like Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club provide customers personalized product recommendations based on things like survey responses, social media feedback and virtual reality try-on experiences. Meanwhile, companies like Chewy are creating meaningful, personalized connections with their audiences, such as by sending a condolence bouquet and card to customers who have called to cancel services after their pets have passed away.
In order to create these more intimate and impactful connections with consumers, brands need access to real-time intelligence and understanding of who each customer is and how they can help them reach their goals. Building a successful digital commerce strategy requires businesses to have the following four elements work in harmony:
1. Establishing a Golden Customer Record
Getting to know who your customers are starts with crafting a unified first-party data strategy that offers deeper context into a customer’s preferences, behaviors and interactions with your brand. A customer data platform (CDP) grants marketers control and visibility over all of their data, whatever the source, and brings together this data into a master record to provide a single view of every customer. A CDP can bring together different types of e-commerce data such as transactional data, operational data, customer and product data brick-and-mortar data, promotional data, and behavioral attribution data.
An enterprise customer data platform not only gathers all of these data points, but unifies, dedeupes and enriches this information through processes like identity resolution to ensure everyone is working from an accurate, 360-degree view of each customer.
2. Unifying Online and Offline Engagements
Commerce is no longer a single channel strategy or a virtual shopping cart button you add to the corner of your website. Rather than thinking of commerce as a single transactional channel, retailers must adapt their mindset to consider the entire customer journey, online and offline. A CDP brings together customer interactions, purchase history and other data points in real time, so in-store employees and service representatives can offer the same personalized, consistent experiences to customers as they move from channel to channel.
3. Leveraging Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning at Scale
To gain deeper insights into who their customers are and interpret their needs, organizations can use techniques like predictive machine learning models and AI-driven recommendations to offer customers the right content at any point in their journey. Leading intelligent search and merchandising solutions incorporate AI to craft a customized shopping journey for each visitor. Leveraging features like predictive search to display results in order of relevance, dynamic pricing offers and personalized product recommendations.
4. Investing in a Composable Commerce Architecture
Composable commerce gives businesses the freedom to adapt and extend their commerce experiences through modular components and business applications that can be deployed and reused across various new interfaces and channels without limits. Unlike monolithic e-commerce platforms that restrict business growth from vendor lock-in, composable digital commerce built with a microservices-based architecture allows business users to easily build and integrate with their entire technology stack and add new touchpoints. This flexible, open architecture allows brands to maximize their investment as the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve.
Even though COVID-19 has caused people to be more physically distant from each other, it’s also opened up new opportunities to connect and understand each other in new ways. Unlike the limited, single-point, e-commerce solutions of the past, we believe our world-class partner ecosystem and open approach to digital experience will be critical to helping businesses stay ahead of the curve and deliver lifetime value to customers wherever they are.
To learn more about the importance of a first-party data strategy, register for our upcoming webinar on March 25: A Cookieless Future is Coming. Are You Ready?