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Embracing the age of the customer: where content and commerce come together

According to an Accenture Industry report, 68% of Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) demand an integrated, seamless online experience, regardless of the channel. This statement rings true for the expectations thrust upon companies who are building their brands online and relying on both ecommerce and content to set themselves apart, possibly not considering the impact that a siloed approach may be having on future success.

By 2020, online users will expect a personalised shopping experience that leaves them feeling valued. An engaged customer is a loyal brand advocate and companies can leverage this further by offering a seamless sales approach by combining sales, marketing and customer service. Many businesses still see an inherent disconnect between aspirations to offer a truly integrated content and commerce strategy and the many processes, people and technology required to actually achieve it.

The result of the disconnect is often a poorly executed online strategy that tries to, but may not always deliver on addressing the needs of customers and improving the online shopping experience.

The success of IKEA for instance, confirms that people don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves. The likes of IKEA have learnt how to immerse the customer in a world where they can see how products combine to suit their own preferences and lifestyle. This is the level of functionality and engagement that customers have evolved to seek out. Retailers need to heed the call and better illustrate why their products or services deserve to be part of their customers’ lives.

Getting the balance right is a tricky business and Millenials in particular are intent on not being marketed to (in the traditional sense of the word) but rather feeling that the buying power is in their hands with the most individualised experience possible. Most retailers are however not meeting the evolved requirements of online shoppers and one stating, “Once they get to the checkout, something just doesn’t feel right. There’s a break in the experience from cart to checkout – and that causes a disconnect for the customer.”

Key components for an integrated ecommerce content strategy*

For companies looking to overcome their siloed content and commerce processes, the challenge is to find a solution that will allow them to differentiate their store and optimise their existing transactional processes. Businesses to therefore consider the following:

  • Intuitive, web-based editorial interfaces: in order to create, preview and publish sophisticated pages and microsites that blend brand content seamlessly with e-Commerce requirements.
  • Flexible content layouts for enhanced creativity: avoid tools that restrict marketers and e-Commerce professionals, instead focus on solutions that give users complete control over the look and feel of their content.
  • Enhance products with appealing, branded content: WCM solutions that create dynamic content at runtime rather than simply copying static elements, ensure branded information is always up-to-date. Use tools that allow business users to access updated product data and blend it with brand and editorial content to improve with the application of attractive and immersive content.
  • Support for rich media, including image maps and videos: native integration of rich media can help increase the relevance and impact of online stores. Engagement levels improve with the application of attractive and immersive content.
  • Comprehensive support and provision of social media tools: social networking plays an increasing role in product discovery, purchase and ongoing customer loyalty. Solutions should have built-in social capabilities with integrated tools for social interactions.
  • Orchestrate digital content from multiple sources: being able to access a wider set of information and services from both new and legacy software systems supports the delivery of contextual e-Commerce functionality.
  • Delivering personalised content to shoppers: a key goal should be the ability to deliver personalised content to shoppers based on their user profile, past purchases and cart contents. Best practice ecommerce and content integration solutions must deliver this to prevent their online stores becoming a one-size-fits-all experience.
  • Improved SEO and deeper engagement: ecommerce stores also need to be attractive to search engines.
  • Incremental innovation: combining ecommerce and content can be complex, therefore companies need to look for technology partners that allow them to grow over time – an implementation approach that adopts a fixed price, fixed scope deployment offering that is aligned with tangible business value.

*Source: Core Media: Bringing Content and Commerce Together

Author | Nick Durrant

Nick Durrant
Nick Durrant, Managing Director at Bluegrass Digital, a a leading provider of cost-effective web solutions and online marketing services to a wide range of global clients. With offices in London and Cape Town,the company has a diverse pool of knowledge and expertise, bringing together creativity and innovative technology to deliver... More

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