What Is Experience-Driven Commerce—And Is It the Future?
While marketers have been discussing experience-driven commerce for several years, recent acquisitions of eCommerce platforms by the major marketing clouds have led to increased interest in the topic.
Brad Rencher, Executive Vice President at Adobe, even stated recently that experience-driven commerce is "the future of commerce".
But what is 'experience-driven commerce', and what does it mean to marketers?
To answer these questions and more, Econsultancy held a roundtable discussion in Sydney in association with Magento and eWave. At tables moderated by Jake Hird, Consulting Lead (ANZ, SapientRazorfish), Paul-Henri Boudet, eCommerce Marketing Consultant, and Peter Lines, Digital Director (DBZ), marketers told us what they thought about experience-driven commerce and some of the opportunities and challenges it presented.
WHAT IS EXPERIENCE-DRIVEN COMMERCE?
Roundtable participants agreed that the defining characteristic of experience-driven commerce is that companies who use it will strive to support the consumer 'end-to-end', regardless of whether they are online or offline.
To do this, marketers need to understand what customers are doing as they move through digital and physical touchpoints, and then deliver critical brand experiences at the right point.
This means that marketers need to gather customer journey data, think about where the brand can add value, and provide content and experience to improve the journey.
The result is an omnichannel or even 'channel-less' customer journey which aims to satisfy customer needs, regardless of whether the journey ends up in a transaction.
Attendees felt that the recent push for experience-driven commerce may be an indication that pure-play eCommerce has peaked in mature markets, and that there are greater business opportunities with orchestrated, multi-channel solutions. One participant pointed out that Amazon's recent efforts in offline commerce (e.g. Amazon's physical bookstores and purchase of Whole Foods) is evidence that eCommerce companies need to consider the online and offline customer experience together.
Another said that experience-driven commerce offered marketers the opportunity to build deeper relationships with consumers, not just drive transactions. Implementing a unified customer experience across touchpoints would also allow marketers to build segments based on behaviour, redesign products and services to encourage reorders, and make marketing more valuable to the business.
And once organisations are focused on experience-driven commerce, they will have a framework for adopting new technologies, such as voice search, which will improve their ability to deliver content and experiences in the right place, at the right time, and in the right situations.
One participant pointed out that experience-driven commerce is resource-intensive. It requires a dedicated team including marketers, data analysts, and customer experience specialists working together, cross-functionally. Such a team would be more difficult to manage than current marketing operations and would probably increase costs.
Another pointed out that without a new experience-driven commerce measurement framework, improvements would be difficult to prove to the business which, over time, may dampen enthusiasm for the new approach.
Additionally, with experience-driven commerce marketers risk creating an amazing experience for a small subset of their audience and, at the same time, making the overall customer journey more difficult for others.
Finally, participants stated that while they were still struggling with attribution, marketers will face issues stitching together experiences across the channels that matter most. So, while some attendees said that they were experimenting with experience-driven commerce technologies, few felt that they were yet delivering an integrated experience.