Meeting 21st-century B2B and B2C customer expectations is an everyday battle for all marketing and eCommerce teams.
“Experience-driven commerce” is no longer an aspiration; it is quickly becoming a requirement for success. And the emphasis on experience won’t be limited to just consumer retailing – the latest surveys show that B2B customers are increasingly demanding “Amazon-like” experiences.
Armed with the right tools and approach, marketing and PIM heroes are surely up to the task!
What will our marketing and PIM heroes be up to in 2019?
Set a course for adventure! Here are 10 top trends that everyday marketing and PIM heroes have or will have to master in the near future to win the experience-driven commerce battle of the brands.
1. Lasso Your Data for Omnichannel Commerce
Omnichannel is a business strategy – powered by technology – to provide customers with a consistent and contextual brand experience across all channels – including brick and mortar stores, print, web, mobile and social. Marketing and PIM heroes lasso disparate product data so that customers don’t find different or outdated information about the same product on different channels – an experience that leads to frustration and lost sales. They capture the intrigue of customers seamlessly transitioning between channels and immersing themselves deeper into their brand’s story.
While a seamless omnichannel experience is becoming more challenging as the number of active channels proliferates… it is ever more crucial and required in the minds of customers.
2. Master Online and Offline Integration
Online/Offline integration is an example of omnichannel in which many marketing and PIM heroes have already won. For instance, a customer may research online and then purchase offline, also known as ROPO. On the flip side, there has also been an increase in the popularity of “buy online, pick up in store,” also known as BOPUS. Or, the customer may even buy items online and then choose to return them to a store location (aka BORIS).
More than half of in-store purchases are influenced by digital commerce – so maintaining consistent customer experiences across channels is critical to increasing sales.
3. Transform Your In-Store Experience
Brick and mortar stores are transforming. In order to stay relevant, marketing and PIM heroes must create immersive experiences in their stores by rolling out new features and formats based on experiences customers expect. These on-site interactions are just as important as ever. In 2019, online merchants are looking to grow their physical presence by using more traditional methods like pop-up shops, concept stores, and showrooms. They are also incorporating new technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to deliver new and exciting customer experiences.
Immersive experiences are key to grabbing and keeping your customers’ attention.
4. Surf the Mobile First Wave
More than half of global eCommerce now takes place on mobile devices, officially surpassing desktops as the technology of choice. Whether a customer wants to surf the web to do some research on a product or purchase a product outright from their smartphone, marketing and PIM heroes must refine the product experience. This requires adapting product data to different specs and formats, and to prepare for the increasing dominance of mobile apps.
Mobile devices will account for up to 45 percent of total eCommerce revenue by 2020.
5. Boost Your Voice Superpower
Yes, customers are actually using their phones for voice again! Not to talk to each other, but to their voice-activated shopping assistants. According to Juniper research, 55 percent of US households will have a voice-activated smart device, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, by 2022. Marketing and PIM heroes must prepare product data to super-power these devices. One of the draws of voice-search is the conversational aspect of it. This contrasts with online searching where users may type “summer floral dress,” but when speaking to their device they may say, “Hey Google, where can I find a nice floral dress for summer?” Teams must contextualize product data for voice-activated shopping as to not miss out on this emerging sales channel.
In the same way, marketing and PIM heroes have learned to manage metadata for search engine optimization (SEO), they must now craft product data to be ready for more conversational voice-enabled devices.
6. Virtualize Product Experiences Using X-Ray Vision
All industries are beginning to feel the impacts of the digital transformation, and eCommerce is no exception. As a way to provide custom experiences, more and more marketing and PIM heroes are utilizing AR and VR technologies – okay, so it’s not technically x-ray vision, but it’s pretty close. By using these tools, brands can show customers how they will see and/or experience the products in the real world. For example, Sephora offers AR technology in the Virtual Artist App so potential customers can see what products will look like on them without having to go into the store.
Marketing and PIM heroes will expand on their use of VR and AR technology to provide unique and immersive customer experiences.
7. Read Your Customers’ Minds with Machine Learning and AI
Machine learning and AI have already been integrated into many eCommerce systems, from product recommendation engines to improved search functionality. However, 2019 will see a dramatic increase in the application of these technologies, allowing eCommerce retailers to “read their customers’ minds” to offer exactly what they want in less time with less effort. The continued transformation of this technology will allow marketing and PIM heroes to deliver more personalization and customization for ideal customer experiences and improved product recommendations.
Leveraging individual customer data will switch marketing techniques from demographic-based to behavior-based.
8. Give Your Customers the Superpower to Shop with Image and Photo Technology
The photo and image shopping era is here. Customers want to point their camera toward a product they see to order it from an online store or screenshot an image on their phone and then receive similar products to order. There are already many photo apps available like CamFind, the Elle Shopping App, and more will continue to pop up.
Soon more and more shopping applications will offer tools that allow customers to take a photo of something and then come up with similarly matched items for purchase.
9. Capture Customers in Your Social Media Net
More social media platforms will streamline their tools to allow customers to shop natively within their platforms. Marketing and PIM heroes have already realized that native advertising captures the attention of customers and has a better response rate than traditional ads, so it is predicted that sales conversions will match those same trends. Instagram already includes shoppable posts and Pinterest has its “Shop the Look” feature.
Customers don’t want to have to leave the social platform they are currently using to buy your products – “native shopping” removes that step.
10. Send Your Droids into the Battle: Utilizing Chatbots as Personal Assistants
The popularity of chatbots is increasing. Messaging and chat is an attractive on-demand and easy-to-use channel for customers and is available 24/7. This promising technology for retail use can be used to transition visitors from prospects to buyers. But for chatbots to become the future of retail sales, they must be backed with accurate and complete product information. Marketing and PIM heroes should charge their droids with highly organized and complete product information. This supports the chatbot in guiding the customer through the process of describing, finding, and purchasing the item they are looking for.
For chatbots to work, they must be powered by clearly organized and complete product information.
PIM to Help You Win the Battle of the Brands
How can you actually master the top 10 2019 eCommerce trends? The solution is to have highly structured and sophisticated product information. The battle-dominating marketing heroes of 2019 will rely heavily on Product Information Management (PIM) superpowers to win and retain their customers by delivering out-of-this-world product experiences.
PIM is the cornerstone that powers experience-driven commerce and marketing strategies in today’s retail and eCommerce environment.
Want to learn more about how PIM can help you achieve your strategic omnichannel initiatives? Contact us to learn more about the Akeneo PIM solution.
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