By James Brooke, Amplience
When it comes to eCommerce, the rate of change is unprecedented. Yes, COVID-19 has come along and put everything into overdrive, but a lot of these external factors were already in play before we even knew COVID existed. And while some businesses are tackling the changes head-on, ready and willing to adapt and stay nimble in their approach, others are simply getting left behind.
The factors affecting retailers and eCommerce today include, among others, a dramatic increase in digital interactions through a variety of channels, such as social media, smartphones, and the proliferation of IoT devices. All of these elements driving change are creating a growing wedge between what retailers’ customer experience is now and what consumers expect.
So, where should retailers be putting their time and efforts to stay ahead of the competition, stay pertinent to target customers, and ultimately stay afloat?
Prepare For A Digital-Only World
Digital is the new black. That means dabbling in digital or being responsive is not enough anymore. Now more than ever, retailers need to support a strategy centered around being digital-first and customer-centric.
Competing in a digital-only world will be tough. Success will depend on the ability to build an experience around the customer, giving them what they want, when they want it. Otherwise, they will have no qualms about heading elsewhere.
Change Customer Experiences
It’s time for retailers to stand out through customer experiences – how they’re delivering to customers, across what channels, how they can do so consistently and then layering in personalization and relevance.
The key then comes in continuing to optimize digital experiences and the speed at which retailers can do so. Competitor offerings change, your products change, customer preferences change all the time – so the pressure is on to be constantly optimizing the customer experience to stay ahead. This requires retailers having to create and manage an array of versions of their experience, making thousands of changes every month, every week, perhaps every day if they can automate some of it, across millions of customer journeys.
Get Agile With Technology
There is no getting around the fact that delivering a customer-centric, digital-first approach relies on technology and, importantly, how a retailer shapes and manages all processes and workflows.
The problem lies in the bottlenecks and backlogs to which monolithic platforms of old quite often cannot respond. Their inflexibility is killing productivity and the chance to keep up with the change. No matter how responsive a retailer may want to be, it can be hampered by a lack of agility. Retailers will need to invest in new technologies and digital platforms that empower this nimbleness.
Manage Content, Not Code
There are platforms available that let retailers define the customer experience based on content, not code. With these types of solutions, retailer marketers do not have to rely on rigid templates or developers to release content to their audiences. They can drive the customer experience forward on their own – helping to rapidly address evolving customer needs.
Given the decrease in in-store visits, made worse by COVID-19, the onus is now going on retailers to move those experiential experiences online, giving customers something they wouldn’t necessarily expect and something to help keep their brand top of mind.
Retailers need to adapt, thinking both how they can stay relevant now and in the future. The recommendations above can help retailers not only be aligned with their customers’ expectations but also drive ahead of them.
About The Author
James Brooke is the Founder and CEO of Amplience.