As businesses continue to fight for survival in a COVID-19 world, brands such as Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen have tried to make digital their new normal. Companies like these have got creative with their online presence by adding value for their customers through free masterclasses. These digital commerce initiatives create a community for loyal followers who will help pull your brand out of these uncertain times. So how can you accelerate your digital commerce strategy by appealing to more than 4.4 billion internet users?
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ANALYSE DATA TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS THINK OF YOU
As a recent Walker study indicates that customer experience will overtake price and product as a vital brand differentiator, businesses need to understand how customers think about the experience they deliver. Sentiment analysis can track reactions and opinions from digital channels to improve the digital strategy for your business. The sheer amount of customer data available today makes it impossible for companies to manually gather insights from these online sources, which can help predict and anticipate future customer behavior. Sentiment analysis can also assess the score of an online reaction or opinion to a product so that you can determine its value to a customer.
For instance, if a car manufacturer was looking to bring out another vehicle with ‘luxury’ features, they could use sentiment analysis to determine what their customers consider luxurious for a car. Is it leather seats or good mileage?
BECOME OBSESSED WITH EMPOWERING YOUR CUSTOMERS
Brands can become customer-obsessed by improving the end-to-end experience of a customer’s journey before, during, and after purchase. According to McKinsey, brands that enhance a customer’s journey can see their revenue increase by 10% to 15%, and their costs lower by 15% to 20%. As a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experience does not exist, brands need to focus on redesigning the business with the customer in mind. You need to rework your product or service by building a personalized connection with a customer before a purchase like La Picanteria, a restaurant in Peru. They allow diners to eat whatever they want based on the available ingredients for that day.
Alternatively, Amazon Go in the US makes it easier for users during purchase by eliminating checkout. It uses machine learning sensors and AI to sense when the removal of products from the shelves to charge a customer’s Amazon account automatically. Another digital commerce strategy example is demonstrated by the clothing brand Eloquii. They want to form a lifelong bond with a customer by empowering its sales associates to offer personalized outfit recommendations through email based on their previous purchases. Customers can then respond to the email for more suggestions, or purchase the product in store or online. But while technology can use customer data to enhance their journey, it should never be abused as it must always aim to make their lives easier. Customers must also know how data is collected. They should also be aware of the usage of their data and how it is protected.
ENCOURAGE USER-GENERATED CONTENT (UGC) TO BUILD TRUST AND CUSTOMER LOYALTY
According to research conducted by marketing agency Mavrck, UGC drives 6.9% more engagement than brand-created content. Brands can use UGC, as part of their digital commerce strategy; to show that they can be trusted as they allow customers to build a persona for their brand. Nike capitalized on the power of UGC by tackling the issue of gender stereotypes in Milan with an influencer campaign. As part of their digital commerce strategy framework, Nike chose three TIK TOK influencers who were paired with elite athletes to create a dance routine based on a sport. 46,000 UGC videos were also produced in response to this campaign as Nike used a community of real people to tackle an issue without focussing on their revenue goals. This example is in line with findings from Edelman, which states that 80% of consumers say that they are willing to purchase from a brand if they can ‘trust the brand to do what’s right’.
USE A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC APPROACH TO FULFILMENT AND ASSORTMENT PLANNING
Only 39% of supply chain businesses feel that they are operating at an omnichannel level, while only 66% think that their current inventories are accurate. It follows that currently, consumers cannot get a hassle-free shopping experience whether buying in-store, on their phone, desktop or a combination of all three.
Brands can improve this status quo. Enable flexible and intelligent fulfillment and assortment by empowering employees with technology such as wearable mobile computers handheld computers with built-in barcode scanners and radio-frequency identification (RFID) inventory management systems. For instance, Fruit of Loom uses AI to crosscheck weather and inventory data so that it can contact retailers with low stocks of warmer clothes. In this way, customers can get access to the inventory they want as they need it. The North Face store in Manhattan also uses heat mapping as part of their digital commerce strategy plan to determine the sections that are more popular with customers. In this way, assortment and fulfillment planning can become customer-centric.
Apart from the use of technology to improve fulfillment or assortment, Nordstrom offers the option of a flexible return as it doesn’t have a time restriction on returning items. It will still refund an item at its current price even without a sales receipt.
CAN B2B BUSINESSES CREATE NEW REVENUE STREAMS WITH DIGITAL COMMERCE?
Improving the B2B customer journey is often a more difficult process when compared to the B2C customer journey. For instance, a B2B customer journey involves customizing product assortment for each business consumer. At the same time, the decision to purchase doesn’t come from one single customer but rather from a combination of professionals within technical, financial, and operational departments.
Yet several B2B companies have used digital commerce to accelerate their business. For example, W.W. Grainger Inc. generated a new revenue stream from smaller business customers by investing in digital commerce features for its online-only Zoro brand. Furthermore, others like Netherlands-based bank ING grew its profit by 23% by enabling an omnichannel strategy that allowed corporate clients to access accounts, customized reporting as well as perform payment and hedging transactions wherever they were in the world.
Brands can accelerate their digital commerce strategy by understanding their customer’s unique needs. You can use technology and tools to track customer perceptions of your brand and then assess whether this matches up to what they need. Once you have this insight, redesign your brand in line with what the customer wants so that you become customer-centric. B2B brands can take their digital commerce plan to new heights by becoming obsessed with the customer so that you can always cater to their needs whether it is related to fulfillment, assortment, or personalization on any online or offline platform.