Key takeaways and tactics for modern commerce brands
Ecommerce has been permanently accelerated by Covid-19. A recent study by Bank of America and Forrester revealed that ecommerce jumped up to a 33% market share from 16% in 2019. That’s 10 years of growth in just 3 months!
In response to rapidly shifting consumer expectations following Covid-19, brands were faced with the choice of either upgrading their digital experience or being left behind. Creating a better digital experience became an integral part of brands survival strategy during this time.
Though a mobile-first approach is nothing new, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of ecommerce transactions taking place on mobile. Where mobile ecommerce made up 34.5% of ecommerce sales in 2017, it’s expected that by the end of 2021 mobile ecommerce sales are expected to make up 54% of total ecommerce sales
Brands are also facing intensified competition in the marketplace due to the growth experienced by direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands during Covid-19, as well as business-to-business (B2B) retailers who have traditionally sold through other stores now trying to sell their products through D2C channels.
This rise in competition has made market differentiation and providing an omnichannel experience more important than ever. Customers have access to so much consumer data and information, they often make their mind up about a purchase before entering a store. This has made it harder than ever to secure brand loyalty. In fact, 40% of customers changed brands in 2020, double from the year prior.
So what can brands do to differentiate themselves and win customer loyalty? Let’s look at a few tactics Sanchez recommended in his presentation.
Create Differentiated Experiences
“How can you create that personalized experience based on how your customers want to buy?” Said Sanchez. Whether creating experiences for mobile or an Internet of things (IoT) device, augmented or virtual reality, or any digital space imaginable, the idea is to create commerce enablement at the height of customer interest by selling where customers already are.
We are living in an era where companies that bring the most unique value are going to be most successful. Disruptive brands are thriving, where the cookie-cutter approach is getting left behind. Consumers want new experiences that surprise and delight and exceed their expectations. Brands that can create memorable experiences that only they could offer are winning.
Make any moment shoppable
Consumer behavior and expectations have changed greatly, particularly the post-pandemic world. Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup options have caused many consumers to do their shopping online or on a mobile device. The emerging standard of 2-day shipping, or even same day delivery, has caused people to make purchases online they once would have once done in store.
The emergence of IoT technologies means the potential to buy and sell can now be embedded in just about any device or space. Imagine purchasing a furniture piece while experiencing an AR or VR showroom, renewing a subscription with voice command while driving, or putting a bid on an auction item through an Apple Watch. What were once futuristic scenarios are now realities of modern commerce. The key for brands is to imagine where their customers already are — whether that’s the gym, the car, on their mobile devices or watches while on the go, or even in-store, and create commerce-enabled touchpoints that offer convenience and flexibility.
Provide a seamless and consistent shopping experience
Sanchez spoke about the importance of creating a frictionless experience for customers. In this competitive market no brand can afford to lose a customer because of a slow loading page, overly complicated checkout, or even just a clunky user interface or buying experience.
On a recent episode of the Own your Commerce Podcast, Paul do Forno, Managing Director at Deloitte Digital, spoke about the opportunity for retailers to reduce the friction of the online purchase process by building solutions that are “responsive, fast, and continually evolving.” do Forno said, “What really moves the bottom line is that relentless look at friction points. Brands should be thinking about the number of clicks it takes to get to checkout, the number of pop-ups for customers to navigate, the speed and seamlessness of their purchase flow, and how an optimized checkout experience can drive conversion and improve customer retention.”
Optimizing the customer shopping experience should be a no-brainer for brands today. Or else they are literally leaving money on the table.
Rethink the customer journey
Traditionally, commerce platforms were built with a linear customer journey in mind. When you imagine a brick-and-mortar shopping experience, it typically involves the customer entering a store, browsing the aisles for products, adding items to their shopping cart, then making the purchase at checkout. It’s not surprising that the first ecommerce stores were also built to follow this same process.
However, the way people shop has changed.
Often buyers are not going to a website and perusing for products. Online shoppers tend to have much more intent. Rather than browsing around on a site, they are searching for the product they already have in mind after extensive research. Brands that recognize this and have been able to reshape their customer journey to suit today’s modern buyer are having the most success.
Elevate your checkout
Checkout is arguably the most important phase of any buyer journey because it’s where the cart becomes a conversion. All the experiential marketing in the world doesn’t count for anything if you can’t turn that buzz and excitement into a purchase.
Canadian luxury mens fashion retailer Harry Rosen recently invested in an elevated checkout experience, and the results have been fantastic. Read their full story here.
What always made Harry Rosen successful was the personalized, white-glove experience they provided in-store shoppers. When the pandemic happened, they began imagining how they could provide that same service but only online. By investing in a better checkout experience and modern commerce stack they were able to bring their legendary in-store experience online, while unifying the online and in-store experience for an even stronger hand in the post-pandemic market.
Creating a checkout experience that caters directly the channels customers are already browsing allows them to complete a purchase when they're most engaged with a product. Brands like Harry Rosen that have elevated their online and checkout experience are enjoying significant online growth and increased revenue.
Access the full presentation
If you're thinking about ways to differentiate your brand you're not going to want to miss out on Mike Sanchez's full talk from WP Engine Summit 2021.
If you have a question for Mike Sanchez, or want to keep the conversation going, leave a comment below!
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