Commerce has evolved beyond the cart into an entire ecosystem. It’s not enough to have a beautiful website, a drop-down catalog, and bug-free checkout. All your competitors are doing exactly the same thing. The leading brands don’t sell a product, they sell an experience.
Experience-driven commerce is generated by engaging customers across different touchpoints in different ways and integrating your product into their daily routines. However, it’s not just about being ubiquitous, but being useful. You are there when they need you, you meet their needs in a personal and timely way, and they don’t even need to think when they click “Buy.”
The 3 C’s of commerce (and the technology and platforms that enable it) create that moment of delight. Anybody can sell a product, but only your brand can deliver it this way – and that is something people are willing to pay for.
Commerce in content
Traditionally, content was the “sales talk” that supported commerce. Digital catalogs and videos wooed and educated customers, then pushed customers to a link on a website. Apps provided an additional service or way to collect emails, and blogs gave SEO, and a reason to visit a site. However, brand communication and commerce were still parallel entities: aligned, but created in separate silos often leading to a fragmented customer experience.
Today, “Buy Now” buttons turn content into shoppable microchannels. Customers read it, like it, buy it – with no confusion and less time to change their mind. Since content can be tweaked to very specific markets and situations, the commerce-enabled messages should be useful and specific. Content no longer sounds like a “sales talk” but a helpful solution with built-in options to buy.
Commerce in context
At the time of brick-and-mortar stores, the so-called secret to success was “location, location, location.” In the age of ecommerce personalization, the secret also includes “timing, timing, timing.” The best brands anticipate what customers want and when they want it.
Commerce in context emphasizes curating choices for individuals using technology like machine learning, artificial intelligence, sensors, GPS, and analytics. These work together to learn customer preferences and predict customer intent. Ads and promos based on improved customer knowledge feel less like intrusions than they feel like a personal shopper. They know what you are looking for, have scoped out the options and then tell you where to find gold: “We’ve found a new vacation for you and the family to visit the Caribbean. It offers sailing, snorkeling, and diving and you get a free car rental.”
Commerce in context doesn’t just narrow down choices; it liberates the busy, info-overloaded customer. “Smart websites” that “know” customer preferences and “smart devices” in the Internet of Things that can make automated purchases give them the one thing their money can’t buy: time.
Commerce in connection
Location, location, location is still at work. But it’s a bit different now.
The first websites took goods out of stores. Omnichannel experiences shatter the concept of “store” completely. Brands can now connect with customers through in-store tablets, smart devices, social networks, chatbot, SMS, within a digital book or software – everything but the kitchen sink (unless it’s connected to the Internet of Things, in which case that can work as a platform too). Today, physical stores are places where people can go to experiment with and try out products, or to interact with the brand in new ways. This allows stores to limit inventory, storing just enough for people to touch or try their products as they make their purchase decisions.
All these touchpoints help customers get products and services anytime and anywhere. They also provide opportunities for brands to find the ways that customers prefer to interact with them and to find new ways of delighting them at every turn. In a sense, companies now have to meet customers “where they are.”
Loyalty is built on consistent, positive experiences. When omnichannel is done well every interaction gives customers another reason to love your brand. Why would they buy anywhere else?