Leading DX specialist suggests that ‘one-size fits all’ transactional e-Commerce has taken online retailers as far as they can go
While 2015 continued to see significant growth in e-commerce volumes, there’s a growing recognition that low prices and rapid delivery times will only get retailers so far.
According to Doug Heise, Global Product Marketing Director at leading digital experience (DX) company CoreMedia, “retailers are starting to realise that something else is needed to help stand out in the crowded online ecosystem.”
That’s why CoreMedia expects 2016 to bring a further acceleration in the shift away from traditional transactional commerce, focused primarily on price and efficiency, to a new generation of experiential e-commerce that’s designed for the more informed, empowered and socially-enabled consumer.
Building on traditional in-store retail techniques, experiential e-commerce needs to be much more immersive, encouraging retailers to understand the customer throughout their purchasing journey.
“Until now it’s been really hard for retailers to deliver the kind of content-based emotional shopping experiences that help organisations to succeed across multiple channels,” explains Doug Heise.
“Perhaps the key reason for this delay is that most major retailers still operate entirely separate teams and systems for managing their brand/marketing content and their e-commerce systems. This can make it extremely difficult for today’s marketers to communicate their brand and product stories successfully through the deep personalisation and contextualisation of content and interactive digital experiences."
“We know that traditional web stores are all about price, product availability and speedy delivery – however, while they may be efficient, secure, and fast, they’re typically not very inspiring. An effective experiential e-commerce strategy helps address this imbalance by providing shoppers with more relevant, inspirational, entertaining, and informative content on the web store itself,” Heise continues.
Leading retailers know they have to respond to the experiential e-commerce challenge, but they’re afraid of disturbing their existing online business processes. To help organisations embrace this opportunity, CoreMedia – the company that works with top European and US brands including Homebase, Office Depot and U-Haul - has identified seven key factors needed to help retailers get their experiential e-commerce strategy under way:
A focus on content-driven product discovery
Today’s marketers want to tell their brand and product stories. Encourage this by enabling a blending of interactive digital experiences with transactional data, promoting a product storytelling approach that combines brand content with real-time commerce data, and experiences that are both personalised and contextually relevant.
Enabling more emotional connections
While transactional e-commerce prioritises tools and design that help customers zero in on a specific product and convert quickly, experiential e-commerce needs to create a more emotional connection that delights, inspires and informs
Reduced dependence on IT and other external resources
Providing business users such as marketers with a simple web-based interface for the design, creation and delivery of content-driven experiences will enable seamless integration with online commerce stores such as IBM WebSphere Commerce. Also, look to adopt a modular content approach, where business users can manage and reuse individual content assets – not just static pages.
Making full use of integrated digital asset management
Effective digital asset management, or the ability to natively manage high quality product images and other media and associate them with producers, is a key element of managing experiential e-commerce.
Look for products that allow you to visually enhance home pages and product category pages, augment product detail and checkout pages with rich media and social content such as customer ratings and reviews, and add features such as instructional videos, downloads and support information. Rich content like this helps to secure conversion – however too many organisations still fail to make the most of their digital assets.
Not overlooking the importance of an incremental approach
Shifting from a transactional to an experiential approach is not something that can happen overnight. However, too many organisations are presented with strategies that force them to rebuild their web stores from scratch, replacing them with entirely new front-end systems. This kind of ‘rip and replace’ approach is typically expensive, risky, and time consuming.
A more incremental strategy - one that enables organisations to keep using their existing business logic, front-end modules and tools, while also building up an experiential e-commerce strategy – will prove more effective, saving both time and money.
Avoiding a one-size-fits-all experiential e-commerce delivery
New platform and hybrid integration strategies are making it possible to deliver much more interesting and varied online shopping experiences. That’s critical as it allows retailers to recognise that as individuals we shop for different reasons and will employ a wide range of shopping strategies in pursuit of our goals. Winning experiential e-commerce strategies will recognise and accommodate our different shopping choices
Recognising that successful visuals are still a key purchasing factor
With over 90% of shoppers suggesting that visual factors are most important when purchasing, it’s clear that e-commerce designers need to move beyond basic displays.
Expect to see more shopping sites this year that replace or supplement the cookie-cutter product grid with more engaging content, more fluid layouts, increased social interaction and rich media.
By Doug Heise, Global Product Marketing Director at CoreMedia.
CoreMedia is a leading digital experience (DX) company that has been powering the online strategy of organisations across varied industries for more than 19 years.
We partner with our customers to connect them with their audiences wherever they are by seamlessly integrating digital, e-commerce and social media assets, accelerating time to market, and increasing the productivity of business users.
Our solutions also help transform e-Commerce stores by infusing visually compelling and immersive content into the online customer experience, resulting in increased engagement, sales, and loyalty.
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