The pandemic accelerated the evolution of ecommerce, with new technologies constantly changing what’s possible for retailers. Over the last few years, consumers have demanded more out of their retail experience. But with the high street grinding to a halt, it’s been left to online stores to offer exceptional services.
With that in mind, Eduardo Silva, Chief Revenue Officer at eCommerce integrations specialists, Patchworks, has written an exclusive guest article on how iCommerce is powering the future of digital commerce. Providing a perfect blend of online and offline experiences that satisfy growing customer expectations, Eduardo breaks down iCommerce’s significance for the future of the digital marketplace.
What is iCommerce?
There’s no specific route or strategy to implementing iCommerce, and this is because iCommerce is a way of thinking about retail operations rather than a restrictive set of instructions. Ultimately, it’s about using data intelligently.
It requires brands to think about how, in the complexity of today’s retail landscape, they can best leverage and share their data to produce a seamless customer experience across all customer channels. This is not to be confused with multichannel which is connecting more than one channel. iCommerce should be the strategic approach to better encourage customers to engage with the brand and spend more.
While customer expectations are soaring, it’s not enough to just sit on piles of information. The retailer must be able to understand their data and actively use it to connect, coordinate, and leverage their ecommerce stack in a meaningful way to drive customer satisfaction and conversion.
Foundations of a Successful iCommerce Strategy
In order to maximise success of achieving iCommerce, goals will need to be clearly aligned to the specific needs and objectives of the business. Measurable goals allow you to identify what success looks like and when you’ve got there.
Here are concepts to keep in mind to build a successful strategy:
1. Data Connectivity
There’s no way around it; if you want to achieve iCommerce, you’ll need to think about going omnichannel if you aren’t already. Operating multiple channels comes with immense benefits, but there’s also one problem many businesses experience. That’s a lack of data connectivity, or data dams, which is when different channels aren’t communicating with each other optimally. This creates inconsistency between experiences, such as sales representatives in-store not being aware of orders you made online, so they can’t support with any refunds or replacements. The difference between a standard omnichannel experience and an iCommerce experience is the elimination of these data dams. Ensuring all disparate channels are connected, and data flows intelligently across all of them in a way which creates a cohesive experience for your customers.
2. Understanding Customers and Trends
Most companies have a huge amount of data and information on their customers and don’t know how to utilise this effectively. But without using that data, they can’t offer a personalised experience. As 80% of consumers are more willing to buy from a company which offers a tailored shopping experience, it’s an essential part of optimising for iCommerce.
In Starbucks for example, a barista writing the customer’s name on their cup is a simple interaction that exists to build a more personal relationship with that customer. It’s a more primitive example of what we’re discussing but by using data intelligently, such as how often the customer shops, how much they spend, and mobilising it across multiple channels, companies can better understand customers, their habits and preferences to channel them to invest more of their time and money into the brand.
3. Optimising Channels for Individual Success
Let’s say your favourite shop sells a wide variety of products, from clothes to appliances. You may only buy clothes in-store, because you want to try them on first, but other general household items you might be happy to purchase online. A particularly advanced store might have a metaverse shop which lets you view the full scale of products in a room – and for furniture, you like to use this feature.
One of the core tenets of iCommerce is that a business needs to start thinking not just about what products it sells, but also where. By collecting customer data to identify their preferences, it’s possible to use this to better position products across the brand’s channels. This might mean making certain garments more prominent in-store, having household items at the forefront online, and offering ways for people to view how a large sofa or table might look inside their own living room.
Through intelligently monitoring your customers, their data, and building strategies from that, iCommerce can maximise sales and create next-level customer experiences.
The retailer must be able to understand their data and actively use it to connect, coordinate, and leverage their ecommerce stack in a meaningful way to drive customer satisfaction and conversion.
Chief Revenue Officer, Patchworks
Considerations for Adopting iCommerce
iCommerce isn’t an overnight strategy, where you can plug in a single solution and watch everything change at once. It requires careful consideration of the business’ needs, marketing goals, and existing resources. Without this, you could implement ideas which are ineffective due to a lack of research and a poor use of data.
Teams must also eliminate the risk of data dams. Many companies already have massive data dams built up over years of not paying enough attention to data connectivity, which will hold them back from a true omnichannel approach. Effective data integrations are critical when implementing an iCommerce strategy to connect all the different systems, apps, and channels, and ensure the operation communicates effectively. A data integration platform can defeat data dams, connect solutions such as analytics and personalisation software, and ensure your customer service excels.
Powering Exceptional Customer Experiences
Becoming a leader in iCommerce requires a diligent, inward look into your business. And that typically requires real-time analytics to help you make instant decisions based on data. Unfortunately, many companies do not have this capability yet. It’s a significant investment. But the benefits of making data-driven decisions that delight customers and drive sales greatly outweigh the time and resources invested.
Those organisations – from start-ups to established businesses – that adopt an iCommerce approach will stay relevant in the ever-changing retail landscape, outperform competitors, and enjoy lasting success.