There are several aspects of the buying and selling experience, including how businesses and customers interact along the way. While businesses tend to look at this as a step-by-step process, to truly be successful in building the best customer experiences possible, it’s important to think of the entire process – the customer journey – as a single, connected path. This path, which unifies the buying, selling, and servicing experiences together, makes up what we are calling a commerce ecosystem. This ecosystem represents an end-to-end connection from the consumer to the middle office to the back office and to the supply chain – bringing every touchpoint of both the business and customer journey together.
Thinking about this entire process as a single ecosystem has a transformative impact — resulting in frictionless customer experiences, which can positively benefit a business’s bottom line. For example, in my own experience I’ve seen companies eliminate 30 percent of unnecessary overhead and significantly cut back on how much they need to produce simply by using the customer journey as the blueprint.
Here we look at the customer experience transformation that occurs when you commit to building a commerce ecosystem and the benefits that come from having this single ecosystem in place.
Building a Commerce Ecosystem Part I: How the customer benefits
The goal of a commerce ecosystem is to understand what the customer is ultimately trying to accomplish for the long term and connecting everything they need to do that along their journey. To do this successfully, you need to remove any unnecessary processes and systems that do not align with customer value. Next, you should focus on areas of friction and remove as much friction as possible – including task automation so customers don’t need to work as hard. The world of self service is dead and it is now about value service that enhances the experience.
By connecting the entire transaction lifecycle as an ecosystem, it is no longer a linear set of events, but instead a single customer identity – helping your organization to understand, attract and retain new customers. Keeping the customer journey connected at every touchpoint also enables you to more precisely define what your customers want and need. For the customer, this means the goods and services they are looking for are more effectively delivered and they are delivered in the way the customers want to receive them.
A commerce ecosystem takes into account the processes and technologies involved in doing this successfully, letting them work in tandem to support and contribute toward a single customer journey. The end result is a frictionless experience for the customer.
Building a Commerce Ecosystem Part II: How your business benefits
By factoring in all the touchpoints of the customer journey as a set of personas or identity for a specific customer or user, you better position your business to build more positive customer experiences. This leads to reduced costs and simplified processes as well as more personalized transactions, a better customer view and new opportunities for profit centers – all based on the actionable insights that can be pulled from a connected customer journey within the commerce ecosystem. These insights can then be leveraged to support customer growth and retention, which supports business growth and the ability to further innovate and transform your business. This is ultimately what enables you to develop and deliver new products and services faster and more cost effectively – boosting the bottom line and bringing in a myriad of other benefits to the business.
I touched on this a bit in my previous article for CustomerThink, looking at the differences between traditional taxi services and Uber rides – specifically at how Uber used a customer-centric model to disrupt an entire industry. Uber redefined the transportation experience and industry by leveraging real-time data, creating easy instant access, and providing seamless payment processes. What’s more, Uber has set itself up to be prepared and able to launch into expanded ventures, like Uber Eats, based on their model of the customer journey and experience. This is something traditional taxi companies are simply not prepared to accomplish. By creating a unified commerce ecosystem that brings the whole of each of Uber’s customer journeys together, they are able to maintain that customer knowledge and familiarity with customer experiences and preferences. This is what lets them be at the ready to move into new revenue opportunities – like food delivery.
As you think about the customer journey and the types of experiences your company is looking to create for current and prospective customers along the way, always consider the strategies, systems, processes and employees that are all part of building and supporting these goals. The customer is ultimately what drives the bottom line and each of these component parts work together to create better customer experiences that keep them coming back. All together, it becomes one single ecosystem—the commerce ecosystem.