“3 Ways Retailers Can Reshape Their Digital Experience” by Jasmine Guthman via Total Retail

“3 Ways Retailers Can Reshape Their Digital Experience” by Jasmine Guthman via Total Retail

Credit: Getty Images by the_burtons

Retailers and e-commerce players struggled with everything 2021 had to offer, from supply chain issues, delayed inventory, empty shelves, and a scarcity of talent. Based on close work alongside e-commerce and retailers and market observations, here’s how to approach 2022 with smart and tried strategies, with the focus on digital experiences and customer journeys.

Large Retailers Would Benefit From Watching the Smart Moves of Smaller Players

Agility and being nimble is critical now. Small, local shops have flexed their muscles, freed from larger organizational bureaucracy and red tape, and have adapted to what their customers have needed. Many smaller shops, after an initial freeze, swiftly took their stores digital, allowing curbside pickup or delivery, and engaging with their local customers digitally, whether on an Instagram story or a hyperlocal email campaign. Large retailers could benefit immensely from scaling what has worked well for those they don’t perceive as competitors today — it may turn into fierce competition down the road.

Build a Path to Higher Profitability With True Personalization

True “one-to-one” personalization isn’t easy to achieve. We’ve all learned that the hard way by now. Nonetheless, it’s unequivocally proven as the go-to strategy for brands seeking differentiation and profitability, especially in the long term. As a retail marketer, one of the most impactful things you can do that doesn’t require a considerable investment or complicated technology is getting to know your customers — and then strengthen your existing tech stack to serve them better (or rebuild it altogether). You want your customers to experience life at MACH speed, and your technology shouldn’t be holding you back, but rather helping you to do just that.

It’s essential that your marketing program is able to collect and process quite a substantial amount of disparate data. Think customer data, lead data, product data, transaction data, operations data, and many more data points that apply to your individual needs. You need to handle that data not just reliably, but also in a smart way, fueling business decisions, increasing revenue and retention, and decreasing churn.

Related story: The Next-Gen Tech Driving Today’s Digital Customer Experience

Most organizations have some kind of analytics program installed on their websites, such as Google Analytics, FullStory, HotJar, or Optimizely. For apps, Mixpanel and Countly are popular options. These programs help you uncover demographic data, referring information, and how visitors interact with key conversion touchpoints. Not as many organizations have social analytics set up. Still, it’s something you can implement that doesn’t take a substantial investment and shouldn’t require IT support for setup or use. Hootsuite and Buffer are both powerful options to help you learn more about your audience, as well as trends and events that impact your corner of the retail sector.

Joe Cicman, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said it well: “You need agility, powered by a flexible architecture, to keep pace with improving customer experiences and new channels. You need APIs to transform how you design and deliver change, unlock new revenue streams, and extend your value proposition by consuming services from, and supplying services to, partner organizations.”

Focus on the Customer Journey; Don’t Uproot Your Existing E-Commerce Platform

One of the most common questions I encounter is: Should I uproot my e-commerce platform if it’s not working for me? I’d say it depends. If your current setup is strangling you, you may want to consider it. But for most cases, if you have a home that has loads of potential, it’s a huge endeavor to do a complete teardown when all you really need to do is make smart upgrades and easily attainable renovations in key areas.

You can achieve it by curating a suite of tools that work well together, specific to your business, providing personalization that works for your customers. Let’s have a look at some of the potential components:

  • A modern front-end framework. The development team uses this framework to build and host the end-user experience where consumers interact with the content you’ve created.
  • back-end development platform. This is the behind-the-scenes work that’s important to any platform, including data storage, security, scaling, server architecture and more.
  • Integrations: You will know these as CRMs and analytics platforms, which layer demographic and behavioral data into a headless CMS. This ensures that the content elements you serve to the customer are highly relevant.
  • headless content management system (CMS): Marketers work with content models, modules and tags to create content once and label it in a way that makes it easy for the CMS to find, personalize, and serve repeatedly in various digital experiences.

The renovation in the end will be worth it. Instead of tearing down walls, perhaps it’s a game-changing touchup of paint that can make the room more open. The beauty of composable architecture is in its ability to transform without breaking time, resources or budget.

Jasmin Guthmann is senior director for global partner marketing at Contentstack, a headless content management system provider.

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