At a recent Gartner Marketing Symposium, I sat down with Jeremy Muras, SVP of Digital at Lion Capital, and David Hurwitz, former CMO of BloomReach to discuss the future of e-commerce. BloomReach software helps clients, including retailers, deliver more personalized services and experiences and Lion Capital has a portfolio of more than 12 brands, including Kettle Foods, Buscemi, Picard, Perricone Skincare, and Allsaints. Below is their insight regarding the future of e-commerce.
Future of E-commerce Experience
1. The E-commerce Experience will Transcend The Screen. In addition to delivering an experience through all screen types, future experiences will be delivered through new touchpoints such as voice, wearables and kiosks. For example, Staples now has AI-powered product search on touch-screen kiosks in their stores.
2. The E-commerce Experience will be More Personalized. While this has been a buzzword for decades, the next wave of personalization will do a much better job of predicting needs. Each individual will get a different experience based on geography, searching history, past behavior, etc. When you walk into a store, a salesperson can intuit a lot about you. The future of e-commerce will use technology to do the same thing … smarter technology that provides a better experience. For example, many search functions on retail sites are terrible. If you put in “shirt dress,” the search function will read dress shirt the same as shirt dress. Yet a salesperson would know the difference. We have technology that can tell the difference and this will only continue to get better.
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3. The E-commerce Experience will Include a Lot More Relevant Content. Consumers want brands that have values and convey the values in a personalized way to the shopper. This requires content. E-commerce brands are moving toward the creation of more, relevant, and helpful content that drives engagement and facilitates the right purchase. Machines will enable this occur faster for long-tail retail items, in real time, allowing humans to develop the biggest experience-enhancing content.
4. The E-commerce Experience will Shift Toward Better Service and Elevate the Shopping Experience. For some time, the emphasis has been on providing cheaper service (e.g., shifting to chat rooms, etc.). The future winners will go beyond efficiency to provide service that create value for the consumer. As an example, a friend purchased a mountain bike off of an e-commerce site. He had a problem with the bike and went to the live chat to ask how to solve it. He got somebody on the customer service team that was a passionate and expert mountain biker. She helped solve his problem. But the relationship didn’t end with the chat. She followed up and sent information that was related to his interests. When somebody needed snowboarding shoes, guess where my friend recommended they purchase the snowshoes? Was the follow-up interaction cheap? No? But it did enhance the experience such that the retailer became a preferred source for outdoor solutions?
What the future requires are systems that enable firms to personalize merchandising, personalize the assortment, and connect the right products with the right content. That requires having a platform and in many cases, legacy systems make it very difficult to do. Those firms who are able to adapt—or create from scratch—the systems will be in a position to win.
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About BloomReach: BloomReach software enables highly personalized digital experiences for retailers, brands, distributors, manufacturers and other enterprises. BloomReach has combined CMS, digital merchandising, site search and SEO into the world’s first open and intelligent Digital Experience Platform and serves customers including Neiman Marcus, Staples and Williams-Sonoma. BloomReach is backed by Bain Capital, Lightspeed and Battery Ventures.