The Power of Experience-Driven Commerce: The Experience Business Series, Part 4

by Jamie Brighton

Posted on 11-28-2017

Con­sumers are turn­ing to the Web more and more to help them make buy­ing deci­sions. Although the e‑commerce growth rate is expect­ed to slow over the next few years, Forrester’s 2014 US Cross-Chan­nel Retail Sales Fore­cast pre­dicts that Web-influ­enced offline sales will grow by near­ly 50 per­cent from 2014 to 2018—accounting for a 54 per­cent chunk of all sales. And it’s no secret that online sales over­all are increas­ing by sev­er­al per­cent­age points every year as more con­sumers adopt dig­i­tal-first shopping.

We live in an age of hyper­con­nect­ed con­sumers. From the time they wake up until their last moments before bed, they have a con­nect­ed device close at hand, and they’re screen-hop­ping their way to pur­chas­es and brand loy­al­ty. Along the way, they reach each stage of their cus­tomer jour­ney on dif­fer­ent touch­points, both online and off. In fact, Adobe and Forrester’s 2015 Glob­al State of Mul­ti­chan­nel Cus­tomer Ser­vice Report found that a full 82 per­cent of cus­tomers make buy­ing deci­sions in-store, and 51 per­cent turn to mobile devices for help with those decisions.

This means you need to take time to under­stand all the inter­ac­tions a con­sumer might have with your brand, and how, where and why these inter­ac­tions might take place. The bet­ter you under­stand those inter­ac­tions, the more accu­rate­ly you’ll be able to pro­vide a con­sis­tent, com­pelling expe­ri­ence to every cus­tomer across all touch­points. Here’s how it works.

Build­ing per­son­alised bridges

As dig­i­tal devices have become key com­po­nents of your cus­tomers’ lives, they’ve learned to take advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty to shift between chan­nels at will. Although a cus­tomer jour­ney may start on one chan­nel (for exam­ple, your web­site) it often ends on anoth­er, such as your brick-and-mor­tar store. And as your cus­tomers chan­nel-hop between online and phys­i­cal envi­ron­ments for enter­tain­ment, ser­vices, and prod­ucts, they expect the con­text to car­ry through.

Take, for exam­ple, the pur­chase of a cin­e­ma tick­et. Although users may search film times on their tablet and switch to an app to buy tick­ets, they expect a con­nect­ed expe­ri­ence that ensures they can use a dig­i­tal kiosk to pick up their tick­ets and record their reward points. In fact, more than 40 per­cent of buy­ers in this exact sce­nario start their jour­neys on one screen and fin­ish on another.

Your cus­tomers also expect con­tent that builds a bridge between their online and in-store expe­ri­ences. Research by com­pa­nies like Google and IDC tells us that cus­tomers inter­act with approx­i­mate­ly 11 dif­fer­ent pieces of con­tent on the path to con­ver­sion. In fact, mar­keters are expe­ri­enc­ing a 76 per­cent lift in demand for assets when they move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and start to focus on personalisation.

How­ev­er, con­tent and com­merce changes can be slow, due to many brands’ reliance on lega­cy sys­tems and inad­e­quate tools. Many com­merce plat­forms lack the capa­bil­i­ty to deliv­er rich, per­son­alised shop­ping expe­ri­ences at scale. They also gen­er­al­ly lack the con­tent and cus­tomer expe­ri­ence (CX) capa­bil­i­ties nec­es­sary to deliv­er rich shop­ping expe­ri­ences across all cus­tomer touch­points. Thus, cus­tomers often drop out at crit­i­cal phas­es of their jour­ney, par­tic­u­lar­ly at moments when they move from brand sites to shop­ping sites.

For com­pa­nies that invest in upgrades, how­ev­er, the rewards can be enor­mous. Here’s one real-world case study on a retail brand that imme­di­ate­ly realised a sur­pris­ing range of ben­e­fits after embrac­ing expe­ri­ence-dri­ven commerce.

Inte­grat­ed adven­ture experiences

Bel­gian retail brand AS Adven­tures sells more than just out­door prod­ucts; it sells unique shop­ping expe­ri­ences. This cus­tomer-cen­tric com­pa­ny prides itself on putting its cus­tomers at the cen­tre of all its activ­i­ties. Its staff mem­bers are trained inten­sive­ly to pro­vide detailed expla­na­tions and inspi­ra­tional sto­ries about the prod­ucts they sell.

But AS knew its online and offline com­merce expe­ri­ences weren’t as inte­grat­ed as they could be. So, they set out to achieve a sin­gle-cus­tomer view, cre­at­ing mul­ti­di­men­sion­al pro­files of every cus­tomer and using those pro­files to dri­ve a new wave of per­son­alised con­tent creation.

AS achieved this omnichan­nel inte­gra­tion by get­ting every team involved—not only sales and man­age­ment, but also the ded­i­cat­ed e‑commerce team, the IT team, and the data ana­lyt­ics experts. They stopped out­sourc­ing their web devel­op­ment, and built up an inter­nal team of devel­op­ers. Mean­while, they set up a unique array of in-store omnichan­nel screens, which inte­grate seam­less­ly with their online com­merce experience.

From 2015 onward, both online and in-store points of sale fed detailed cus­tomer and trans­ac­tion data into Adobe Expe­ri­ence Cloud, where that data was eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to ana­lyt­ics teams and cus­tomer ser­vice experts. Those experts used their new, robust cus­tomer pro­files to pro­vide each cus­tomer with a per­son­alised cross-chan­nel expe­ri­ence that’s ful­ly con­sis­tent across every touch­point, online and off.

Not only have these improve­ments empow­ered AS to make data-dri­ven deci­sions more quickly—it’s also short­ened in-store wait­ing times. But the most strik­ing ben­e­fit came on the company’s bal­ance sheet: in just one year, the com­pa­ny dou­bled its over­all rev­enue from click and col­lect sales alone.

As you can see, a con­nect­ed shop­ping expe­ri­ence is more than just a plus; it’s an absolute neces­si­ty for any brand that wants to hold the atten­tion of its hyper­con­nect­ed con­sumers. In the next and final arti­cle of this series, I’ll be recap­ping all the key points I’ve cov­ered, and briefly explain­ing how every com­po­nent plays its part in a uni­fied mar­ket­ing sym­pho­ny. See you there!

Topics: Digital Transformation, Automation, customer experience, customer journey, experience management, personalisation, retail, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA