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4 Ways to Create a Successful Digital Commerce Strategy

January 27, 2023 6 minute read
Building a successful digital commerce strategy requires businesses to have these 4 data-driven elements.
Black woman sits at desk with 3 boxes, a laptop, and papers covering the desk

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.

But the way we originally thought about e-commerce has changed. 

The impact of COVID-19 made this line of thinking about online commerce as a simple digital translation of your physical store obsolete. The pandemic disrupted the long-standing trends of both B2B and B2C commerce, accelerated digital revenue streams, and caused people to change how they interact with brands. Additionally, growing channels like IoT, conversational devices, and chatbots are giving consumers alternative ways to learn about brands, compare products, read reviews, and, ultimately, buy. Some brands have already embraced these technologies, while others are still figuring out how to best do so without having to build, reconfigure, and maintain content individually for each channel. 

For example, 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 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. 

Creating a successful digital commerce strategy through personalization

To create these more intimate and impactful connections with consumers, brands need access to real-time intelligence and an understanding of who each customer is and how they can help them reach their goals. To build a successful, personalized digital commerce strategy, four elements must work in harmony:

1. Establish a “golden customer record”

Knowing 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 their data whatever the source and brings together the 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, dedupes, and enriches this information through processes like identity resolution to ensure everyone is working from an accurate, 360° 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. One trend rising in popularity in composable commerce is headless commerce. 

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is all the buzz and for good reason. With a headless commerce approach, you decouple the front end of your shopping experience from the back end — presentation is separated from the commerce stack. You have greater flexibility as the front-end presentation layer (also called “the head” or “the glass”) that the end user interacts with can be served by the content management system, the e-commerce system, or even side by side.  

Marketers and merchants can be agile, experiment, and make changes to the front end without worrying about disrupting the back-end commerce engine.

Where headless commerce fits in a personalization strategy

For organizations that prefer a best-of-breed approach, a headless commerce strategy is a great fit. In addition to greater flexibility, a headless architecture allows for faster integrations and more innovation.

Developers can simply use APIs to deliver things like new content or payment gateways to any device or channel (e.g., mobile, digital signage, Alexa, etc). Then, they can just focus on the presentation using the framework of their choice.

Moreover, organizations should consider headless if they have a lot of content and a desire to personalize and innovate their end user’s experience across touchpoints. As previously mentioned, merchants or marketers can quickly and easily make updates to content and publish it across channels without disrupting the back end that continues to support complex transactions.

Because presentation is separate from the back-end commerce system, brands don’t have to worry about slowing down their end user’s experience any time they invest in new channels, integrations, or strategies like personalization.

Getting started with headless commerce and personalization

A headless commerce strategy is a great fit for organizations redefining the customer experience and going beyond the web to explore new channels and engage at a more personal level with their customers. Teams that desire to be more flexible, agile, and innovative with their digital strategy, or organizations with multiple brands or sites that have a lot of content and need to make updates quickly, are also strong candidates.

Organizations that have complex business logic, governance, or workflow can also see the immediate benefits of going headless.

Going headless is a great path for some but may not make sense for others. Acquia can help your team navigate the best path forward for delivering an optimal experience for customers. If you’re curious about how headless commerce, personalization, and Acquia CDP can work for your business, get in touch with our team for more information.

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