In the middle of the 19th century, the concept of the department store emerged. At the time, it was quite impressive to have a one-stop shop to fulfill every shopping need. In 1906, Sears introduced the concept of a mail-order catalog. This afforded consumers the luxury of shopping from the comfort of their home. In the late 1990s, ecommerce emerged, an even more convenient way of shopping in the fledgling digital age. Companies began to recognize the need for a multi-channel strategy but the idea of personalizing their digital experience was not yet on their radar.
Enter Amazon in 2010, which quickly dominated online shopping, giving other retailers no other option – it was either innovate or die. This urged retailers to invest millions to deliver a true omnichannel experience by investing in sophisticated ERP systems from software vendors like SAP and Oracle. However, technology continuously progresses which meant organizations needed to progress too, and came to realize that omnichannel commerce went beyond the distribution channel.
Fast forward to today and it’s clear that omnichannel experiences aren’t just about having the right technology, it’s about leveraging it across organizations to ensure customer experiences are frictionless and consistent every step of the way. But even an easy online shopping experience isn’t enough for today’s consumers. Now, they expect a personalized digital experience, whether it’s on a website, on an app, or through one of the many voice assistants that exist. It’s about providing a consistent 360-degree experience from end-to-end.
For example, let’s explore what a top notch ecommerce experience would look like for someone who is in the market for a new guitar. Let’s call him Corey. Corey is a digitally savvy, a regular online shopper and has been playing guitar since he was a kid. To celebrate his recent promotion, he decided to upgrade and invest in a new Fibson guitar (fictional brand). Like the 81% of buyers who do research before reaching out to the store, he starts his journey on a public search engine with “best guitar for blues band”. Fibson, which has an effective SEO strategy, attracted Corey to its website and showcased some of its top guitars. Corey browses a few pages and, based on his behavior, Fibson is able to understand the type of musician Corey is. Using machine learning product recommendations, they recommended the ideal guitar for Corey’s blues jam adventure.
Fibson makes it easy for Corey to buy online but he decides he needs to sleep on it and decides to subscribe to Fibson’s newsletter in the meantime. A few days later, Fibson emails a special promotion to Corey with an option to pick up his dream guitar at a local authorized vendor. Curious about what it feels like in his hands, Corey decides to go to his local music store with the promotion handy… just in case. After jamming out in store, Corey comes to the conclusion that he simply can’t live without the guitar and decides to buy it. When he gets home he realizes something isn’t right, it doesn’t sound the same as it did in store!
Determined to discover why, Corey goes back to Fibson’s website, which remembers Corey’s past interactions and knows that he has since purchased the guitar, and searches solutions for his problem. With AI-powered search and recommendations, Fibson provides a solution to Corey based on the context and intent of his query. Wouldn’t you know it, Corey tries the solution Fibson’s support site suggested and it worked! By adjusting the EQ of his amplifier, he was able to recreate that in-store tone. Not only did Fibson’s website provide a solution to Corey’s problem, it also provided additional product recommendations to optimize Corey’s guitar performance. Proactive recommendations included locking tuners, a bone nut, and other accessories with a one-click buy button and free shipping. Impressed by the personalized experience, Corey bought some of the recommended accessories and kept returning to Fibson’s website for further help, increasing his lifetime value at Fibson.
Looking to recreate this customer delighting experience for your organization? Here’s how:
1) Unify your customers’ interactions to build 360-degree profiles and truly understand their behavior and ultimately their intent. Fibson knew about Corey’s intent based on his interactions on their website and his purchase at the store using the coupon.
2) Unify your content and product database to ensure your customers could find what they are looking for effortlessly. Fibson unified its Content Management System, Product Information Management system and other digital assets management systems to make it accessible on their website. When Corey searched for help, he had access to content to help him solve the problem, but also provided an upsell opportunity with proactive product recommendations
3) Leverage AI and machine learning to provide recommendations of content or product based on the customer intent. If Corey visited to Fibson’s website after buying his guitar to solve a problem and he saw a popup message with a bigger discount on the guitar, he would have been frustrated. If Fibson provided solutions for a different guitar model, Corey will be wasting his time on the site and might even consider returning the guitar. AI understood that he is trying to solve a problem on his recently purchased guitar.
Read Searching for a Better Shopping Experience to learn more about how to leverage AI-powered search and recommendations to win at every interaction and convert more visitors into happy customers