For the first time ever, online shopping has surpassed in-store purchases according to a survey of 5000 shoppers conducted by UPS and Comscore.
Shoppers made 51% of their purchases online. Forty-four percent of smartphone users purchased using their device. As you might imagine, millennial purchasing using smartphones outranked other age cohorts. Overall, 190 million Americans will shop online this year according to the US Commerce Department, and Amazon will grab about 60 percent of total American online sales. This trend will only get bigger.
The implication is that every business needs an eCommerce strategy and a way to satisfy the growing appetite for online shopping. Five imperatives should drive thinking about marketing strategy and technology infrastructure.
Be Available. Your brand has to be available across channels 24/7. As Sam Walton used to say, “You’ve got to be there whenever your customer is ready to buy.” SEO and SEM are table stakes, as are compelling video content in social and mobile channels for driving inbound traffic. A robust email or CRM marketing effort gives brands the mechanism and the agility to stimulate traffic or to respond to marketplace developments.
Be Easy & Intuitive. Amazon trained a generation to expect easy-to-use navigation, product access in two clicks, detailed product information, consumer and professional reviews, and one-click purchasing. Consumers expect upsell and cross-sell offers, the chance to rate and review their purchases, and the ability to see and buy from their purchase history. This is the gold standard to meet or beat.
Be Channel Agnostic. Starbucks has built consumer muscle memory around integrated multi-channel functionality. Activity on the website, swipe cards, and their apps are integrated and synchronized. Customers can use any channel interchangeably and always see cash and points balances. Starbucks uses all three functional channels plus email and a recently revised points scheme to stimulate buying and to push through product and time-sensitive promotions.
Be Relevant. Grocery chains using load-to-card technology to proactively aggregate coupons, apply discounts, and leverage purchase history have trained consumers to demand personal and relevant offers. Consumers expect favorite brands to know them and to use what they know to selectively present offers, deals, and early information or access to relevant products. Personalization is more abut understanding what people like and what people want or want to buy rather than addressing them by name.
Be Rewarding. Shopping has a practical and a psychological aspect. The experience is everything. Craft a frictionless brand shopping experience so that customers feel good about what they bought and how they bought it. Most eCommerce experiences end in either satisfaction or frustration; the latter dooms brands to immediate irrelevance. Understand customers’ mindset, behaviors, and shopping journey.
Many brands dole out reward points or discounts based on purchase volumes or thresholds. Yet in spite of the proliferation of point schemes, the jury is out on the real margin or ROI value of these tactics in promoting repeat business, grabbing added market share, or activating brand loyalty.
Demand stimulation, research, shopping, and on-going customer relationships are happening online across channels with social and mobile playing an increasing role. Patterns of use are varied, individual, and idiosyncratic. This requires brands to rethink go-to-market and eCommerce strategies and make the strategic technology investments necessary to keep up with customers and fend off the Amazon colossus.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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