Things have changed. Never has there been a time in our lives when this was more true. Covid-19 has disrupted just about everything we do, from being locked down and restricted in our day to day activities to the basic way that we relate to each other. Because many communities have either had their retail stores shut down or their populace confined in some way or another, the way people purchase goods and services has truly changed. And changed in ways that we just could not have perceived. I was recently on a virtual call with an industry expert where he explained how shocked he was at how quickly his 80 year-old mother adapted to ordering meals and groceries online. I felt the same way.
The shift from physical environments to digital hit us almost overnight. And even the least likely of us to get on board with the transition have done so and are thriving in the new environment. One thing that Covid-19 showed us was that those brands who either had not invested in or had been slow to invest in digital were left behind by those brands who had innovated digitally. The companies that created frictionless online commerce were winning and those who did not were struggling, some even closing forever.
So, it’s no secret that every brand and retailer of brands is working diligently to upgrade their e-commerce platforms. Just the term “e-commerce” is a bit of a misnomer these days and can easily be simply replaced by commerce. The thought being that if you cannot conduct transactions with your customers digitally, you simply won’t be here that much longer. Companies like Amazon have done so much to disrupt the space, from shipping those goods to you in 24 hours to the ultimate members club, Prime with free delivery, content streaming and exclusive shopping.
According to Statista, e-commerce as a share of total global retail purchases is expected to increase from 7.4% in 2015 to 22% in 2023. That’s a 3X increase. Online sales growth is one of the few things that you can count on right now and shopping online is a simple fact of life for most of us.
The question is what is on the other side of simple e-commerce? What are the really forward-looking brands considering? Everyone is rapidly investing in their digital platforms. You aren’t unique if you are “relaunching your website”. That’s not necessarily innovative. What is the next disruption that we will see? Said differently, what is the next thing that is going to absolutely resonate with us and separate the winners and losers of tomorrow’s digital retail landscape?
We here at Conversity believe that it is the replication of the in-store experience online. We have always liked to go to physical stores. It’s a fundamental part of the customer buying journey to gather information and seek advice and in-store we can do this by asking sales people questions. And while there is plenty of information online, it can sometimes take a lot of time, energy and effort to find it, and sometimes we don’t always trust what we find. For those looking for a frictionless, intuitive, customer led experience, websites fail to deliver, tending to be rows and columns of specs, pictures, and price. When we are in the store, we like to be asked qualifying questions to ensure that we can make a purchase with confidence that it is the right purchase for us. Additionally, no one likes the hassle of returning things, either to a store or shipping it back to the brand.
We see that personalization as the next frontier of e-commerce. We as human beings love the idea of being engaged as individuals with unique preferences, tastes, and motivations as to why we may purchase one item over another. We are all different. And having those differences understood in a thoughtful way always resonates with us. One such area of personalization that we are developing with our customers is that of intelligent guided selling; this is software as a service that embeds on a brands’ website to engage consumers just as soon as they arrive on the site to deploy a dynamic questioning model to understand their motivations, mindset, goals, needs and appetite for spend. We deploy consumer psychology experts to help us understand why people buy to develop the dynamic question sets. This smart, needs-based questioning coupled with a sophisticated recommendation engine to serve up the very best options for that consumer helps reduce the range of items available and tailors the consideration set to make the experience more personalized, drive up better online conversion rates, and increase the likelihood of upsell and cross sell. And most significantly, provides brands with tremendous consumer insight to leverage in customer segmentation models and future marketing initiatives.
Interestingly, there are a number of businesses offering this service, from large enterprise organizations like Salesforce.com to smaller more niche providers like excentos, dot.vu, 15gifts, and Zoovu. There are subtle differences in how each renders this personalization offer, but the smart brands are focused on this next frontier of commerce and you should be too. If we can help you consider your options and how to drive innovations at a very disruptive time in the marketplace, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.