Three Costly e-Commerce Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

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Three Costly e-Commerce Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

By Jay Henderson - 04/06/2015
Today’s consumers have an insatiable appetite for online shopping and who would blame them? From mobile loyalty programs to real-time website personalization, markets are serving up the most relevant journeys and the best deals on digital channels.

The most recent evidence came this past holiday shopping season. The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark showed us that consumers are flocking to their computers and mobile devices to buy, browse and research. This all sounds great but, here is the challenge — at the same time their attention spans are at an all-time low.

So, what does this mean for marketers you ask?

Customers now demand great products and interactions that are personalized to their individual needs — not the old-school “spray-and-pray” model that pushed the same message to thousands of customers. But, all is not lost for marketers and retailers. The golden ticket in this customer centric world is connecting data to insights and insights to action.

Customer data including demographics, behaviors, attitudes and emotions, offer brands a way to remove the guesswork from the process and help better predict the needs of the individual. With data as their secret weapon, marketers can now send personalized fly fishing promotions to Al in Montana instead of fashion blogger Jenna in New York City. This new precision will paint a clearer picture of each customer allowing marketers to serve up better experiences, drive purchases and build a loyal band of customers.

While data is clearly a recipe for success there are some common mistakes marketers make that are derailing their attempts to cook up the ultimate customer journey. Here are three examples:

Mistake #1: Insights are Just for the Marketing Team
For many businesses, marketing teams work in isolation and subsequently fail to recognize that delivering great customer experiences is the responsibility of the entire organization — not just marketing. Marketing has the opportunity (and responsibility) to take a leadership role in delivering great customer experiences.

For example, customer services representatives can use these same insights to address real-time needs of customers. Instead of wasting minutes taking down Lauren’s information when she calls the hotline for assistance, the customer service representative already has that data inputted into her system based on real-time data. This saves Lauren time and reinforces the brand's commitment to delivering a consistent, seamless customer experience. Appointing a senior executive to focus solely on customer engagement helps break down these walls and ensures that customer data is shared throughout the business.

Mistake #2: Data Can't Bring Customers Back to the Cart
As many retailers know, shopping cart abandonment is a frustrating challenge. Inevitably, certain customers will browse a site and fail to follow through with their purchase. But that does not have to be the end of a customer relationship with the brand. Marketers have the ability to entice shoppers back and convert them into purchasers. By infusing analytics and insights into e-mail and push notifications brands can remedy whatever disabled the previous engagement (e.g., the price point for the tablet was too high). If James abandoned a $400 coat, a real-time e-mail with 15% off outerwear is likely to woo him back to his cart. With this highly personalized content, e-e-mail and push can now trigger return visits and prevent missed revenue opportunities.

Mistake #3: Personalization is Not as Important as Price
Consumers are overwhelmed with coupons, sales and promotions every day. In many instances the price of an item takes a back seat to the customer experience. No matter how great a deal, if Jane can’t move from browsing her desktop with morning coffee to purchasing on her smartphone while riding the subway, she is unlikely to complete the purchase. Retailers need to leverage all of the tools at their disposal to provide engaging experiences across all channels, whether via a smartphone, desktop or a tablet. Data and analytics enable organizations to understand how their customers use devices. Marketers can then take that insight to develop a device experience that is not only simple, fresh and intuitive, but also drives consumers to purchase.

Competition between retailers today is fierce. By personalizing each interaction, engaging with their customers at every touch point and leveraging analytics to understand each customer, retailers will position themselves for success year round.

Jay Henderson is director, product strategy at IBM Commerce.