The retail sector has witnessed a massive transformation over the past decade. That change has been primarily driven by the changing habits, preferences, and demands of the consumer. Over time, consumers have acquired the power to induce brands to deliver exactly the experience they desire across all sales channels.
The eCommerce wave has also created massive levels of disruption in the retail sector. Studies suggest that by the end of 2021, nearly 2.14 Billion people worldwide will buy some form of goods or services through online channels. In most major economies, the eCommerce marketplace model has grown so massively that online channels are bigger than the largest physical retail store chains.
As sales channels have proliferated, an omnichannel market comprising a complex mix of a handful of leading eCommerce marketplaces, multi-brand physical retail store chains, and the brand’s own network of digital and physical stores has evolved.
While customer buying trends and preferences keep continuously evolving, brands are being forced to think beyond their traditional strategies. In modern-day retail, this means that brands must necessarily expend energy to create strategies that allow them to deliver a superior omnichannel customer experience. In the age of the omnichannel marketplace, brands cannot simply survive by clinging solely to the network of their own physical and digital stores. Thriving in the omnichannel world requires a more innovative approach in positioning product sales across channels.
First, a caveat. While the omnichannel landscape does include physical stores as key sales channels, these channels are already pretty well understood. That being so, rather than focus on the impact of the physical channel on customer behavior let us look at the story of digital commerce and its various facets like a brand’s own digital store, eCommerce marketplaces, and much more.
Customers get influenced by many factors while purchasing a product or a service online. So how can brands compete and win in the omnichannel marketplace economy?
Let us explore a few tips:
Did you know that 73% of all online buyers buy a product right away driven by the availability of detailed product content for their research? The better differentiated a brand’s content, the greater will be the chances of its products converting better sales in an eCommerce marketplace. Customers who encounter more descriptive and detailed product content from a competing brand will be more inclined to believe the competitor a more trustworthy brand. This will ultimately drive the sale to the competitor. Brands need to invest in creating more “useful” content that covers all aspects of their offering. They must ensure that a customer is able to acquire enough data about the product from all eCommerce points of sale to enable them to make an informed buying decision. Providing them the information they need to progress in the buyer journey will ultimately convert into superior customer engagement and, inevitably, into better sales.
Today, traffic to an eCommerce page may come from multiple sources. It could be from a computer browser or through a dedicated smartphone or tablet app or even from a mobile browser. For brands, maintaining search-friendly product attributes can become a key differentiator in helping them rank better and get found more often in searches. The accepted wisdom is that when a customer “searches”, they are very close to making the purchase decision. If a brand’s content helps it become visible to the customer at this “trigger moment”, there’s a greater chance of a sale occurring. Additionally, brands need to ensure consistent attribution across the sales channels thereby enabling shoppers to find and get their hands on the right product easily and quickly irrespective of channel.
A big mistake that brands make is failing to apply a consistent data standard for their products across multiple sales channels online. Buying journeys span sites and stages. This is why, before rolling out products onto an eCommerce website or their own digital properties it is imperative to address this issue to ensure the online customer is able to browse any site to get exactly the right product info necessary to move the purchase journey forward. Brands must focus on identifying gaps in product data, ensure messaging and detailed information are consistent, position customer-centric data and images at the right in product pages to ensure a unified product discovery and analysis experience across channels. Obviously, brands must also keep track of changes that are made to product attributes over time and ensure that they reflect in all channels at the time of the updation.
Solving the product, partner, and customer onboarding challenge is critical in the complicated omnichannel world. Consider how, when new products get launched, brands must manage data about the product coming in from different departments as well as vendors who supply components or offer services to take the product from raw to marketable condition. They need to efficiently handle product data onboarding and bundles of attributes and facilitate easy scalability as product lines expand. The answer to this challenge is to bring in automation across different data input, collation, and distribution points and enable autonomous syndication of on-boarded data across the downstream channels like eCommerce portals and marketplaces. This will ensure that customers get access to the latest product information faster, and potentially before the competition hits the market.
In the digital era, brands must build powerful customer experiences based on product information, call it Product Experience Management or PXM. With the evolution of technology, even small brands can go online across leading eCommerce websites or even set up their own store online or push out products to other innovative channels. Product experience can drive customer experience based on a continuous supply of enriched product info and content to influence buying decisions that can help brands stay ahead in this hyper-competitive segment. The key to success could come down to enabling seamless and automated omnichannel product information and data management.