6 Digital Commerce Trends for Marketing Leaders

November 25, 2019
Contributor: Gloria Omale

Marketing leaders should use these digital commerce trends to meet customer expectations for a more convenient, relevant and streamlined buying journey.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, digital commerce is a key focus for organizations looking to improve customer experience and increase sales. From Amazon Alexa to Snapchat, technology advancement is changing customer expectations of the shopping experience, significantly impacting marketing and digital commerce. The Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020 revealed that CMOs place digital commerce in the top three strategically vital capabilities, allocating 9.2% of their marketing budget to digital commerce, up from 8.1% in 2017.

“Marketing’s digital commerce priority aligns to CEOs’ goals,” says Jennifer Polk, VP Analyst, Gartner. “In the 2018 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey, 62% of respondents reported that they have a management initiative or transformation program to make their business more digital. Facilitating digital commerce transactions with the right tools and capabilities is central to organizations’ success.”

Digital commerce also fuels two marketing imperatives: Expanding brand presence into channels where customers are and nurturing more transactions through a better customer experience. Marketing leaders driving these imperatives should stay on top of these six digital commerce trends:

No. 1: Conversational commerce

Conversational commerce uses natural language interfaces like voice and text chat to enable people to discover and purchase goods and services via a dialogue. For example, voice commerce is available today through smart speakers like Amazon Alexa. Ensure that product content is tailored to the conversation format to make it easier for consumers to browse by voice. Take advantage of the touchscreen functionality on devices like Amazon’s Echo Show or Google Home by incorporating visual elements in your conversational commerce strategy.

No. 2: Hypercustomization

Powered by advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence, hypercustomization uses data to provide products, services and content tailored to customers’ personal preferences. Consumers value personalization that provides relevance and convenience in the form of “tailored help.” For example, a bank personalizes messaging to customers who have been declined for a loan to educate them on why they were declined and recommend steps they can take to improve the likelihood of future loan approval. This creates an improved customer experience, which leads to better business results. Build hypercustomization into long-term personalization strategy, focusing on products, services and experiences where customers value personalization enough to pay premium pricing or reward your brand with greater loyalty.

No. 3: Subscription commerce

Subscription commerce models enable the sale of physical and digital products and services on a recurring and automatically renewing basis, facilitating a direct relationship with customers not possible via traditional retail commerce. For example, HelloFresh offers a meal subscription service that delivers recipes and ingredients that customers need for their weekly dinners, skipping the hassle of going to the grocery store. As customers increasingly prefer convenience over the traditional steps of buying, explore the potential of subscription commerce, offering consumers the automatic replenishment of consumable products.

No. 4: Omnichannel commerce

Grounded in customer data, omnichannel commerce connects consumer experiences across multiple devices with those taking place in physical stores or company locations. For example, Amazon and other retailers are making conveniences such as “click and collect” or “buy online, pick up in store” core to their physical locations. Blending digital and physical assets to support the buying journey delivers a stronger business contribution than with digital alone. Use consumer insights to understand changing expectations of physical and digital channels, with a keen eye toward current and future buyers and younger demographics. If you lack a physical location, explore pop-up stores or events in targeted locations. For example, Porsche offers Travel Experience driving tours, leading to purchase and social sharing.

No. 5: Brand marketplaces

Digital marketplace platforms enable third-party vendors to sell goods on the platform in exchange for a cut of the sale. The marketplace owner attracts customers and processes transactions, while the participating third-party vendors manage product manufacturing and delivery. For example, ASOS Marketplace platform allows boutiques, vintage collectors, individuals and designers — established or unknown — to trade from their own virtual market stalls to customers across the world. B2C marketplaces are already dominated by established players, but B2B manufacturers can use marketplaces to grow sales, like selling overstocked or obsolete inventory to business buyers. Those looking to launch B2C marketplaces must offer a differentiated experience, like access to expanded or exclusive brands, products or assortments, to attract consumers.

No. 6: Visual configuration

Visual configuration helps sellers offer configurable, customizable and accurate product visualizations. The technology’s ability to enhance configure-price-quote (CPQ) solutions enables buyers to customize products to their preference and get relevant related pricing quotes. Snapchat, for example, enables users to take a photo of an object or person’s outfit to buy it on Amazon. As digital commerce gets more visual, analyze customers’ behavior throughout the funnel to learn what type of product content drives discovery, consideration and conversation. That insight can be used to create visual content that influences purchase behavior.

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