The holiday shopping season is over, but the new year is the perfect time for brands and leaders to adapt their commerce strategies.
In 2018, we expect merchandisers and marketers to take advantage of several new requirements in commerce, such as immersive experiences, intimate personalization, and orchestration across the customer journey, to engage buyers, influence purchase decisions, and foster long-term relationships.
Here are five trends to watch in 2018 that will drive innovation and customer engagement in commerce:
Create a fully immersive experience for buyers
This is the year experience-driven commerce becomes the norm, not the exception, because it drives more engagement and sales.
In 2018, merchants and marketers are going to be even more focused on delivering immersive experiences that offer high quality, in-context content to help inform and engage buyers.
Vodafone is a good example of this. It offers a seamless customer experience both online and in store.
This is made up of content and commerce, push-based interactions, and smart digital displays throughout its retail shops that help grab customer attention and support product selection.
Wilson is another great example of a brand that’s committed to providing a highly engaging experience for its visitors by incorporating storytelling about the audience’s favorite sports into product pages.
Commerce and marketing teams will need to work even closer to deliver a cohesive experience that tells their brand story in a way that engages and emotionally connects with their buyers.
Behind the scenes this may mean having to integrate their content management system, eCommerce system and digital experience tools, to give teams the flexibility to create a unified digital storefront that brings together content, commerce and experience.
Innovate the post-purchase experience
Innovation in fulfillment, especially around refining and improving the post-purchase experience is top of mind in 2018.
Customers aren't just buying a product, they're buying a relationship. The experience after the sale often matters as much or more than the item they purchased.
Post-purchase experience isn’t just package tracking, free shipping, and fast delivery, it’s about being in service to the customer and delivering a great customer experience well after the sale.
Readily available support, no questions asked guarantees, great return policies, or flexible delivery methods are all ways brands are innovating.
New offerings and cost-savings can be achieved through streamlining online and offline integration. Amazon Locker available in Whole Foods stores is a good example.
You can order online with the option to pick up your purchases via Amazon Lockers in store.
Do omnichannel personalization right
Omnichannel personalization continues to be a focus area for brands to engage buyers and influence purchase decisions.
Customers who initiate the purchase process on one channel, such as mobile, should be able to easily transition to another device like a laptop, still shop and buy. Data from the Aberdeen Group shows that “companies that focus on omnichannel strategies retain an average of 89 percent of their customers.”
However, many marketers are still challenged by managing these customer touchpoints in siloes due to disconnected systems and data. Often, marketers can personalize content for a few audience segments or channels, but not all at scale.
Brands will look for a means to integrate systems and data to obtain a holistic picture of their audiences’ behaviors and interests across channels to deliver more tailored content, product and promotions to engage buyers and drive conversions.
An example of personalization with Acquia Lift
Focus on social commerce and great customer service
Shopping in its nature is social, and the power of online word of mouth and user generated content will not be ignored by brands. “71 percent of consumers are likely to buy an item based on social media referrals,” according to HubSpot.
Since social media is where lifestyle context or conversations happen, brands will focus even more on making product placements as relevant and in-context as possible.
An outcome of this will be an increased focus on prioritizing social customer service.
This means being responsive, starting dialogue, and turning dissatisfied social followers into advocates.
Even if you can’t solve an issue on the spot, having the technology and resource to instantly reply to a customer online can increase customer advocacy around 20 percent.
Adopt a customer journey mindset
Customer experience is the new competitive battleground for brands looking to differentiate amongst competitors. A connected experience that’s personalized to the buyer across touchpoints feels cohesive and relevant. And, it can help a browser turn into a buyer if you can remove friction, or get them over the hump that’s preventing them from buying.
For example, if they keep coming back to your site, can you trigger a 10 percent discount offer after the third time they bounce?
Or, do you have the ability to insert a relevant ad into your prospect’s Facebook feed at just the right moment? You should be able to do this and much more, automatically, to move the customer along their buying journey.
Leveraging customer journeys can lead to increases in customer satisfaction and revenue by 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively, says McKinsey & Company.
Brands need to take control of the customer journey by combining previously siloed systems and data, and harnessing the power of orchestrated, personalized customer journeys across all touchpoints.
At Acquia, we want you to be successful in your commerce strategy and we understand what it takes to get there. Learn more about Acquia Commerce Experiences and reach out to us today to see a demo.