This sponsored post is produced by Mozu.
Online retailers are quickly finding out that the tried and true approach to channel-first marketing is far less effective than focusing on the customer. In today’s market, the customer is king, not the channel.
Your customers — especially your millennial customers — ultimately don’t care where purchases occur — whether it be on your website, mobile app, or in-person — so long as they get what they want, when they want it. And on top of that, they are not loyal to any one medium over another. It’s an instant gratification nation; buy it now; ask and you shall receive.
This year at IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition), Target.com announced that they’ve refocused their efforts on a customer-centric approach, going so far as to say they’re now “guest-obsessed, not channel-obsessed.” This is not a new idea, but one that has yet to trickle down to mid-market brands and retailers that are still throwing dollars hand over fist at channel after channel (and praying for results) rather than focusing on the customer.
At Mozu, we constantly get asked what focusing on the customer means. It’s a valid question. And there’s not a simple answer; it means many different things to different brands. But below are three starting points to take stock of your own customer experience.
1. Evaluate motivation through performance
BJ Fogg, the founder of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University, defines customer behavior as the combination of three distinct factors: sufficient motivation, a clear trigger, and the ability to act. Clearly, if a customer has come to your website they have been sufficiently motivated, perhaps by an endorsing article or referral from a friend. They were also triggered by something, too, perhaps a timely need or a compelling incentive. And for most sites, the ability to act is as simple as two clicks, and done.
But for every moment a customer waits for a page to load, their motivation shrivels away. After it loads, finding the item, adding it to the cart, reviewing the amount of money that they’re going to pay, and clicking “buy now!” is far less exciting. Page load times make a radical impact on conversation rate. Akamai reports that pages that take three or more seconds to load will experience a 40 percent abandonment rate.
So before you yell at the designer or the copywriter for underperforming, take a closer look at your site performance and respect the beat between the zero moment of truth (ZMOT) and when your page loads. It’s just a heartbeat, but it’s your first true impression.
2. Redefine “Omnichannel” as an organization
Omnichannel “this” and “that” is all the rage of retailers in 2015. What’s worse than buzzwords is that many more are incorrectly interpreting Omnichannel as a new definition for Multichannel.
This truth is, Omnichannel is all about designing for the customer, not for the channel. The companies that do Omnichannel best are focused on building continuity throughout the customer journey, from touchpoint to touchpoint — and I hear you, that’s way harder said than done!
For most, the disconnect happens as a result of organizational structures, goals, and systems that are a reflection of the traditional sales channels. Once the organizational structure and goal barriers for Omnichannel are broken down, most brands find themselves wrestling with systems that cannot empower marketers to effectively execute the omnichannel strategy. Brands and retailers on “homegrown” systems feel this pain more than others. Their legacy software was not designed for marketers to tinker with copy, images, promotions, or calls to action.
Today, innovative retailers are investing heavily in giving marketers more control, and giving developers more flexibility. They are doing this by either rebuilding from the ground up, or by switching to more modern commerce platforms that are purpose-built to solve this exact painpoint.
In order to really execute an Omnichannel strategy well, marketers must be able to act as more of a concierge for customers as they traverse the shopping experience from offline to online — remembering, ushering, helping, nudging. If your e-commerce stack does not support those capabilities, you’ll be stuck selling in the stone age with floundering promos and in-your-face advertising.
3. Embrace the death of static commerce
There’s a reason why marketing mavens are raving about “journeys,” “experiences,” and “personalization;” none of them are static, nor should your site be.
Static commerce — throwing up a store and crossing your fingers — may work for small mom and pop shops just coming online for the first time, or for artists graduating from Etsy, but it absolutely does not work for companies dealing in several million dollars in revenue.
Yet, we still see brands and retailers doubling down on designers, quarterly website updates, and generally customer-ambiguous planning. Under this approach, they leave no room to capture opportunities, react to the zeitgeist, or better yet, customize a shopping experience to a unique customer. Static commerce is dead. Personalized commerce is in.
This is a hard sell though within any organization — why fix it if it ain’t broke, they say. Well, the answer is, the cost of innovation is plummeting. Marketers are empowered. Developers have more control. Over the next 18 months the status quo for the shopping experience will be lifted — greatly. Those who can react will survive; those who can innovate will thrive; and those who cannot will fade.
Your customer experience is now part of your brand, and it’s arguably just as valuable as your product. Many great brands have experienced rapid growth by simply doing the customer experience right — just look at companies like Bonobos, Uber, Warby Parker, Neiman Marcus, and Lexus.
This year marks the end of static commerce and boring customer experiences. Costs are too low and innovation is at an all time high. The days of obsessing over channels are fading, along with the brands following suit.
The customer is king. Long live the king.
Jason is the CTO at Mozu with a strong passion for crafting technology and software that drives business growth. Mozu, the cloud commerce platform, gives innovative brands the power to create rich ecommerce experiences. Request a demo at https://www.mozu.com/
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