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Three Competitive Pressures Driving Digital Commerce Strategy.

Today’s commerce landscape is increasingly complex and competitive. Merchants are under constant pressure to manage budget and headcount, while sustaining growth and enhancing differentiation and customer loyalty.

Meanwhile, the impact of technology has created higher shopper expectations. Customers not only demand the best deals, they want seamlessly mobile, socially integrated offerings.

Growing merchants feel the impact of this trend. They understand that meeting these customer needs, no matter how demanding, is instrumental to outgrowing the competition. It may seem daunting, but merchants who see these challenges as opportunities are transforming into innovative, customer-first organisations that offer value across all touch points.

The commerce experts at Magento, an Adobe Company, understand these challenges. With a finger on the pulse of modern retail, we’ve whittled down what can seem like an overwhelming torrent of changes, expectations and trends into fundamentals that can help businesses compete in any environment. Let’s look at a few things to consider as you position your business to compete.


Pressure #1: Writing a best-in-class CX story.

According to Salesfloor, 84 per cent of online shoppers expect retailers to provide a robust and engaging online experience.

In today’s fragmented shopping environment, merchants must grapple with the evolution of technology and multiple shopping channels, including tablet and social. Shoppers now expect omnichannel fulfilment — they want to buy online and pick up in store, return online orders to a shop and deliver to a shop.

The good news and the bad news about customer experience (CX) is that it’s up to you to deliver a winning experience. Merchants need to connect the dots of their customers’ touchpoints with their brand in ways that are meaningful to them. In a competitive market dictated by customer needs, there is no margin for error in delivering engaging, helpful service and shopping navigation. As shoppers move across various activities and channels, you must deliver a consistent experience that maps closely to their interests.

Get personal.

Delivering a personal experience is the ultimate way to compete in today’s commerce market. But it can be challenging to keep an eye on the moving target that is digital commerce, which constantly creates new ways for shoppers to search and buy.

An Infosys report revealed that 86 per cent of consumers believe personalisation has some impact on their purchasing decisions. They also found that more than 31 per cent of consumers desire more personalisation in their shopping experiences. Shoppers now expect you to remember them and to deliver a tailored shopping experience. You must understand where you stand in the personalisation journey. Use insights from shoppers’ interests and other digital behaviours to understand and meet your customers’ demands.

Your customers expect you to remember who they are and what they like and don’t like. They expect you to not just serve their needs, but also anticipate them and make their increasingly busy lives easier to navigate. But while this was simple enough in the one-to-one environment of the neighborhood shop of 50 years ago, it’s harder than ever with more than 720 potential paths to a purchase.

The drive to provide contextual commerce by using insights from shopper interests and digital behaviours creates a demand for solutions that allow merchants to quickly deliver more meaningful, personalised offers at scale.

Master emerging channels.

If the last decade is any indication, digital will continue to revolutionise the shopping experience. Merchants need to optimise their strategies across digital channels, including marketplaces, mobile, social and future intelligent personal assistance technology. It’s also critical to implement processes and technologies that can quickly adapt to thrive as new channels emerge.

According to Sprout Social, 75 per cent of consumers have purchased a product because they saw it on a social channel. Merchants need integrated tools to seamlessly engage with and acquire potential customers through social. Other core functionalities that help retailers compete in the social sphere include product catalogue extraction, social store creation, simplified ad creation and optimisation and content integration.

According to Criteo, 40 per cent of all 2015 commerce was transacted on multiple devices. It’s clear that fast, efficient mobile-first experiences are essential. Customised, responsive experiences are driving differentiated engagements, which requires retailers to consider various channels, including progressive web applications that offer an app-like experience straight from a browser.


Pressure #2: Outpacing and outgrowing the competition.

Technology is quickly evolving and it’s more easily accessible and affordable than ever before. This increases market competition, as your next big competitor could come from anywhere.

The digital revolution has significantly benefitted the customer. The customer is reshaping the industry and determining how businesses compete across multiple channels and geographical locations. Staying ahead of the pack depends on how fast and how effectively you respond to their expectations.

Explore new possibilities.

The pressure to maintain or expand growth in the face of increasing competition often means exploring new business models or channels. Forrester anticipates that by 2020, the US B2B market online will top a staggering $1.1 trillion and account for 12.1% of all B2B sales in the US

For B2C merchants, the B2B boom can present an opportunity for growth and an interesting view of some of the behavioural changes that dictate customer expectations in a shopping environment. Social selling, for instance, has changed the meaning of quick-response customer service. Thanks to Amazon Prime, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that four in ten online shoppers expect retailers to offer free two-day delivery.

Go global.

In addition to adding channels, many businesses are considering new markets to sustain growth. A Pitney Bowes survey found that 66 per cent of consumers that have ever made a domestic online purchase have also made an online purchase from another country, creating pressure for businesses to expand into new markets. Brands are now looking at ways to compete by globalising their product reach, but with added localised customisation.

Face the competition.

Forrester reported that 81 per cent of organisations are either using or planning to use mission-critical apps in the cloud. And 77 per cent identified improved agility as the key motive for moving core apps to the cloud.

When you consider how the cloud can help businesses manage customer data more efficiently, this makes perfect sense. According to iVend Retail, 92 per cent of consumers shopping across multiple channels, meaning data is collected from multiple points. Having comprehensive access to customer data can help you outpace the competition by helping accelerate global deployment, making it easier and faster to spin up new environments.

Convert your loyalists.

While many efforts are focused on acquiring new customers, repeat purchasers are the lifeblood of a business, so finding new ways to connect with and continually earn loyalty from shoppers is an important contributor to long-term growth.

Constellation Research estimates that retailers focused on improved engagement increase cross-sell by 22 per cent, drive up-sell revenue from 13 per cent to 51 per cent and increase order sizes from 5 per cent to 85 per cent. The battle for consumers’ attention is fierce. With the Amazon Prime phenomenon reshaping how customers shop, you must earn customer loyalty if you want to increase customer “stickiness.”

Customers now expect trusted website security, full transparency on delivering costs, easy access to customer support and visibility on product information. They also expect rewards for loyalty across channels. iVend Retail found that just more than 50 per cent of shoppers surveyed feel equally rewarded with loyalty rewards online and in-store, compared to 40 percent who felt that way a year ago. With stiff industry competition, meeting customer expectations is paramount to driving loyalty.


Pressure #3: Adapting to change. Quickly.

As we all know, the commerce landscape is fast-paced and unpredictable. That’s why you must be ready to go with the right information at the right time. Plus, you must be agile and flexible to consumer and market demands. With attention to data details and a nimble approach, you’ll be set up for success today and tomorrow.

Decode your data.

Every day, according to Forbes, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created, while 90 per cent of the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone. These vast amounts of data are amazing for understanding and catering to customers. But sorting through it is overwhelming. It’s hard to know what’s working and what isn’t and how to get that information quickly.

The right business intelligence tools will give you customisable dashboards and KPIs to help you to analyse disparate data sources using one unified view. With this information, you can improve purchase frequency, order size and conversion and optimise and personalise the customer journey. An optimised view into data sources provides merchants with the insight and transparency required to navigate change in an agile manner.

Empower your internal teams.

Marketers and merchandisers need to move quickly to adapt to customer demands and tailor content to customer segments. Teams need the ability to easily extract insights across multiple sources, positions and organisations to simplify the fine-tuning of various experiences delivered to shoppers.

With the right tools, teams can bypass development and IT bottlenecks to easily create, preview and schedule site updates. Streamlined admin tools mean less time spent managing back-end processes and more time for developing and testing compelling campaigns to drive sales.

By empowering internal teams to focus on their own tasks, you’ll reduce developer workloads and maximise efficiencies by managing one commerce relationship that’s a flexible, cloud-based platform.

Reach your potential.

The shopping experience is where the condom meets the road — it’s where shoppers form an impression about you as a merchant, based on your ability to deliver on the promises of delight, relevance and value.

Agile processes, customer-centric strategies and integrated solutions are critical to uncovering more opportunities for success. Focus on maximising your competitive potential by delivering better shopping experiences. With improved conversion and efficiency, you’ll see the results in your bottom line.


Learn more about taking your e-commerce experiences to the cloud with Magento Commerce Cloud, part of Adobe Experience Cloud.


Sources:

Andy Hoar et al., “US B2B eCommerce Forecast: 2015 To 2020,” Forrester, 2 April 2015.

Bernard Marr, “How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read,” Forbes, 21 May 2018.

Great Omnichannel Expectations 2016–2017 Shopper Survey Report,” iVend Retail.

It’s a Cross-Device World: Criteo’s Q4 Mobile Commerce Report Reveals Top Companies Bet Big on Mobile Consumers,” Criteo, 17 February 2016.

Omnichannel Retail Associate Study,” Salesfloor, September 2016.

Pitney Bowes Survey Finds Majority of Global Consumers Shop Cross-Border,” Business Wire, 12 October 2016.

R “Ray Wang, “Live Engagement Marketing Supercharges Event Marketing,” Constellation Research, 6 May 2016.

Rethinking Retail,” Infosys, 2013.

Forrester, commissioned by Infosys, October 2014.

Turned off: How Brands Are Annoying Customers on Social,” Sprout Social, 2016.