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Four Components of a Best-in-Class Commerce Experience

In every industry, the transaction or conversion is the moment of truth. Everything you do as a marketer before and after exists to support and drive consumers toward a purchase – and then come back for more.

But that doesn’t mean the transaction reigns supreme, because consumers are the true heart of commerce. If you develop strategies dedicated to brand experiences, the conversions will come. In this blog, we’ve broken down four key components of a best-in-class commerce experience to set your brand on the path to success.

1. Deliver the right content to the right person

In a digital-first world, there is no marketing strategy without content strategy. Educational and entertaining content (videos, blogs, how-tos, etc.) allows your brand to interact directly with consumers, but personalization is the final piece of the puzzle for a campaign to meet marketing and business goals. You can’t just send out the same content to everyone, because it won’t be relevant for everyone. Your brand’s content needs to be sent to the right person at the right time using the right channel.

What your brand can learn from luxury:

Luxury brands elevate the customer experience with excellent storytelling. While it is easier to tell a story with a $100,000 car or $5,000 watch, compelling and transparent narratives allow consumers to see themselves as characters in that story. But the execution still needs to exist. The ways in which luxury brands have accomplished this is by taking the story beyond the products themselves. This means making consumers feel like the brand they are engaging with is a lifestyle they should want for themselves.

2. Create smooth physical-digital touchpoints

While marketing was already headed toward on-the-go interactions, there’s no denying the pandemic accelerated the need for brands to adapt this mentality. Consumers want seamless connections between physical and digital touchpoints so they can have one unified experience with a brand, regardless of where they are.

Brands leading the way in physical-digital touchpoints are in constant communication with the consumer. Consumers know what products are in stock, when out-of-stock products will be available, when the order is placed, and when it will arrive at their door.

What your brand can learn from QSR:

Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are setting the standard for physical-digital touchpoints. These brands have mobile apps that are connected to in-store kiosks, loyalty programs, and fulfillment journeys. This creates transparency for how brands will meet expectations, and allows the brand to handle a high volume of transactions in a frictionless way.

Chipotle and Starbucks have led the way in this regard. Customers can order online or through the app, pay through their phones, and pick up (contactless) in stores. And most importantly, they are communicating every step of the way.

3. Offer multiple ways to receive products

Convenience-based customer journeys will almost always beat out competition that makes it difficult to purchase or receive products and services. With the on-the-go mentality we mentioned above comes the need for consumers to choose how they want to receive products. If your brand doesn’t provide the experience the consumer is looking for, you’re likely going to lose that sale. With this in mind, brands should offer direct shipping, buy online, pick up in store, and curbside pickup whenever it makes sense to do so.

What your brand can learn from big-box retailers:

Brands like Walmart and Target are leveraging their massive scale to provide every type of convenience available. They not only offer multiple ways of receiving products, but they also access nationwide inventory to help expedite delivery and offer endless aisles facilitated through marketplaces and third-party sellers. There is also more visibility for inventory quantities and if that product cannot be found locally, there are options to get it shipped to a local store or directly to the customer’s doorstep.

DTCs especially can learn from this model by seeing retailers as partners rather than competition. On top of ecommerce capabilities, DTC brands can partner with retailers to offer in-store experiences. For example, mens’ razor brand Harry’s provides its subscription service on Target’s website so the shipping and delivery burden for subscriptions falls on the retailer rather than Harry’s. And Sephora has embraced the store-within-a-store concept, partnering with retailer Khol’s.

4. Foster loyalty after the purchase

Loyalty experiences create bonds between the customer and brand to increase customer retention. Beyond mobile apps, effective loyalty programs in 2022 involve two key elements: visibility into the last mile of the experience (from the purchase to receiving the product) and engagement with consumers on an emotional level. We’ve discussed the importance of fulfillment transparency, but it’s also important for today’s customers to know your brand values align with theirs.

What your brand can learn from retailers and QSRs:

A great example of engaging with customers on an emotional level and keeping shared values top-of-mind is the Patagonia Action Works program. It pairs people with environmental organizations in their communities in order to make a difference at a local level.

Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) on the other hand are a great example of using first-party data to drive loyalty-based tactics. Using data to understand customers allows Chipotle to offer free guac after a certain number of purchases or Starbucks to offer BOGO drinks to loyalty members at a certain time of day.

Bonus Tip: Consistency and seamlessness are key for building trust with your audience.

Despite their differences, all brands are after the same goal. More importantly, consumers have the same, or nearly the same, expectation level for all the brands they engage with, whether they’re buying clothing, ordering food, or finding a home for their money. By taking a step outside your industry purview and looking at the perspective of how other industries are approaching customer expectations, you are rewarded with new inspirations and angles to help solve what are, at their core, universal problems.