3 Ways to Meet Growing Customers Expectations

The evolution of digital commerce has given rise to a growing set of customer expectations for the digital experience, both within and across channels.

Online shoppers care about their shopping experience, and they don’t think in terms of channel differentiation. As pointed out in a new white paper we partnered with FitForCommerce to create, “Setting Up Your Team for Digital Commerce Success,” shoppers want an engaging experience that is, above all, fast and convenient.

Merchants winning in the digital realm are taking measures to ensure a seamless experience, start to finish, within and across channels, supporting shopper needs wherever, however, and whenever they shop.

Retailers must immerse shoppers in a seamless, engaging experience that draws consumers in, and command  their attention in a short-attention-span world. Keeping the experience fresh and engaging, from initial interest through purchase and beyond, requires the engineering and orchestration of many complex, interdependent and moving parts.

This isn’t a small undertaking. It requires retailers, brands and digital merchants to harness site content, messages, promotions, marketing, and merchandising in just the right combination, often tailored by segment or personalized to specific shoppers.

The end goal is for these elements to converge, appropriately matching shopper needs or desires with the most relevant retail experience, assortment and message.

While the thought may be daunting, approaching the shopping experience in a strategic, holistic manner is the only way to satisfy shopper’s high expectations. And it begins with an internal foundation built on the right organizational structure and the technology needed to power it all.

Here are 3 ways your ecommerce team can meet your customer’s growing expectations:

Think Mobile-First

Online sales now account for 11.6% of total U.S. retail sales, according to Forrester Research.  But retailers increasingly understand that the far bigger story is that digital touchpoints are now forecast to touch 49% of total U.S. retail sales in some way.

So it’s no surprise that mobile — including responsive design, mobile site optimization, and app development — is the top online business initiative of the upcoming year, according to the recently-released National Retailing Federation’s (NRF) State of Retailing Online 2017.  

A mobile-first infrastructure should include enhanced search functionality, simplified navigation, geolocation technology and multiple purchasing options to create a more holistic and streamlined shopping experience that merges your digital and brick and mortar channels.

Think Omnichannel

To meet rising customer expectations for fast, free delivery, retailers continue to invest in omnichannel fulfillment capabilities in their stores and improve operations in distribution centers, according to the NRF report.

But while omnichannel functions such as in-store returns, buy online pick up in store, and ship to store have become a customer expectation, it also comes at a rising cost. For example, fulfillment costs per order rose for 31% of respondents in the past year as retailers implemented new capabilities, trained associates to process orders in-store, and battled rising shipping costs.

Inventory needs to be visible, and inventory accuracy can affect experience of the shopper who is checking a mobile device before deciding to come to your store to make a purchase. The requirements of a seamless real-time inventory picture across all channels that is consistently available to shoppers and retailers can be a challenge. 

Tell Your Story

Success isn’t just about conversion rates. How customers engage with brand content and story ranks highly among the Rachel Roy team’s performance metrics.

Rachelroy.com features a true integration of content and commerce. Building on our advanced blogging capabilities, posts can be merchandized with products, outfits, or looks. Which means content-driven shopping, instead of linking back to a product page and interrupting the content experience.

Great content is more that giving the customer the information they need to make a purchase decision, or research products that they think they have either an interest in or a need to have to satisfy something that they want to do.

The Rachel Roy team worked with us to develop not one but five unique blog looks. The site features two main content-driven sections:  The Life and Kindness is Always Fashionable. Through Kindness is Always Fashionable, another fundamental driver of the Rachel Roy brand, philanthropy, finds its home online.

Conclusion: You Can Do It

Embracing a cross-functional, multi-discipline organizational approach is the logical and proven way to create the necessary cohesion across the digital commerce team. Rather than assign a single person to own responsibility for a single area – such as digital marketing, creative, content, or merchandising – businesses should hire with multi-discipline and cross-functional in mind. This manifests itself in hybrid roles such as those focused on both SEO and content, or on both merchandising and marketing.

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