The true marriage of experience and commerce

With the rise of eCommerce, and the increasing number of shops to purchase products from, brands now have to compete to get consumers' attention with their retail experiences. However, with consumer preferences changing so quickly and being more cautious when they are purchasing items, brands may not be that clear about what makes a good consumer experience.

Kevin Dechamps, experience commerce specialist, Sitecore, shares with Marketing about the factors that goes into creating a good customer experience, and the future that commerce industry can expect to see in years to come. In his role at Sitecore, Dechamps (pictured) assists clients to define their commerce vision, strategy and help them leverage on the company's Experience Commerce.

Dechamps has over 10 years of experience in the eCommerce industry, and has been designing, implementing and managing eCommerce solutions for companies like P&G, Pandora, Diageo, Olympusand Amer Sports. 

Catch Dechamps and top-notch commerce experts from across the region at “Modern Commerce in Asia Pacific”, a FREE two-day virtual summit by Sitecore on 26-27 May for commerce, marketing and IT leaders, as they discuss commerce and marketing success strategies for 2020 and beyond. Click here for details. Sitecore's virtual summit is done in partnership with Marketing.

Marketing: Can you tell us a little bit about what is experience commerce?

Dechamps: It is clear that today’s customers are empowered and have more choice than ever when it comes to choosing where they want to make a purchase. For a very long time, eCommerce site performance was judged on the number of clicks it took to get from the home page to the order confirmation, with the lower the click rate, the better. The goal was to have as little friction as possible and to have the highest conversion rate. This makes a lot of sense from a marketplace perspective, as you want people to come in, find what they are looking for and purchase it as easily as possible. We call that "transactional commerce". But brands needs to think about it differently, they need to consider digital commerce as another channel in which to optimise on the experience.

Obviously, it hurts a brand to go below its own recommended retail price, and it therefore can't compete on price nor can it offer the convenience of a marketplace. What brands can offer is an exceptional customer experience. This will raise their own brand equity, help build relationships with customers, and keep customers coming back - driving higher lifetime value for the same acquisition cost.

If your brand can get customers to a transaction in a few clicks, that is great news. But even if they only spend time on your site reading articles, and becoming familiar with your brand’s offerings, it is likely that they will be more informed when they come back to the site and spend more in the future. The key is to provide relevant content and products which make their experiences more contextual and helpful. Additionally, your brand now has access to a lot of actionable data from the interaction.

Marketing: What are some of the factors that go into creating a good customer experience, and how has that shifted in light of recent events?

Dechamps: One of the key factors for creating a good customer experience is data. Brands need to understand who their visitors and customers are, and what they are looking for. Using that information, brands can provide an engaging and personalised experience but also nurture the relationship by sending the right communication at the right time to the right person.

Considering recent events, I think a brand’s content strategy will be key for a successful future. It was already an important factor with the increase in a buyer’s time researching or comparing products before opening up their wallets for a purchase; but it will be even more critical now, given that that physical channels to research and compare products have become less accessible. There are plenty of products that are hard to buy when your knowledge of the category is limited, like finding the right size for a bike or a specific screw to repair something without asking a shop assistant for guidance. In that scenario, having the right content directly referenced on the product page can have a big impact in providing added relevant information in the buying journey without overwhelming the call centre.

Marketing: Do you think an offline experience can be replicated in the realm of online? What are some of the key considerations for this?

Dechamps: It really depends on which aspect of the experience you’re referring to. The touch, feel and physical testing of products like touching the fabric when buying clothes, trying on a product or having a test drive, will likely not be replaced any time soon. But I am convinced that digital channels can help build stronger relationships than offline interactions could in the past.  Those times when you would walk into a store and be greeted by your name, and the shopkeeper would remember what you bought last month, and what new products you might be interested in and even ask how your dog Buddy is doing - are gone. There is a tremendous amount of data that can be harnessed through digital channels, which can empower brands to provide that one-to-one (or one-to-few) engaging experience and nurture those relationships.

Marketing: What are some of the trends you see hitting eCommerce industry?

Dechamps: I think we can’t deny the fact that lockdowns around the world are having a huge impact on traditional retail and are accelerating the rise of eCommerce globally.

The biggest trend that I think we’ll see is a big increase in brands developing direct-to-consumer strategies.

For a long time, brands and manufacturers didn’t want to, or were unable to, compete directly with their distributors. And it is easy to see why - you don’t want to jeopardise relationships and channels that bring in the biggest chunk of your revenue. But I believe that this crisis will be the inflection point in that relationship. Brands will need to and want to be in better control of their relationship with their end consumers, reducing their high reliance on the distribution channel and diversify their revenue streams.

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