How Retailers Are Investing In Digital Customer Experience

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Time is the most precious resource. Within our twenty-four hour day, we are constantly curating experiences based on what we need to succeed and feel good. From what we eat for breakfast to the sheets we sleep on at night, brands play a huge role in our everyday lives. 

 

So how, as a brand, can you maximize those customer experience moments? If you have ever asked that question, or if that is the goal of your business, you are engaged with the experience economy, and Bob Meixner, Director of Product Strategy at Oracle, has the stats and advice to help. Meixner spoke to CommerceNext 2019 about the value of a second in the experience economy, and how brands are investing in every second by improving customer experience in their digital channels.

 

Giving a customer their time and money’s worth is the top service goals of most brands. In the experience economy, the customer experience is valued over the product or service being provided. Where customer experience is king, every touchpoint is a new opportunity to sell and each moment of interaction critical to the brand’s impression on the customer. We agree that a good customer experience and increased sales are ideal in pretty much any commerce situation. Where the growing pains lie are in the reliance on traditional marketing techniques, the playbooks of the past. Marketing innovation, commerce, sales and service are all affected in a brand’s choices in the experience economy, and each of these teams across the board is showing increased interest in digital channels to replace and enhance the methods of the past.

 

In pursuit of the most tapped digital channels, CommerceNext in partnership Oracle surveyed over one hundred of today’s top digital retailers to see where their investments lie in the digital sphere, with the goal of empowering their teams that interact with their customer first and driving the customer experience through every point of interaction. They found budgets overwhelmingly on the rise, dedicated to digital investments in the customer experience: 65% of retailers said their 2019 budgets for digital increased since the previous year, with direct to consumer brands increasing budgets more than traditional retailers. These online retailers are looking to reduce friction at checkout, with 47% implementing digital payment services like ApplePay to streamline the experience of shopping. Additionally, 45% are investing in chatbots and AI to help resolve customer service issues in real-time. However, Oracle found that very few retail brands are investing in voice-enabled and AI search in 2019, noting that this may be the key to new and innovative investment in the experience economy.

 

In keeping with a running theme at CommerceNext 2019, 81% of retailers said that customer acquisition was their number one marketing investment priority, with 77% saying that their investment met or exceeded their expectations in 2019. The goal of customer acquisition is the gaining as well as maintaining of new customers, with brands looking to drive individuals to their eCommerce sites as the “lifeblood of the company,” according to Meixner. Intertwined with these customer acquisition efforts is again the idea of customer experience, with brands investing in personalization to gather customer data as well as provide a streamlined and enjoyable customer experience. Looking for detailed and reliable customer data in these investments, retailers saw on average a 90% increase in investment on customer data platforms; however, 52% said they didn’t meet their objectives of unified customer data, and 51% said their personalization investments failed to meet the expectation. Where does that leave us?

 

Brands are looking to integrate solutions across their marketing innovation strategy and efficiently to gather customer insights; however, they are unable to get a unified view of the customer, and they are forced to upgrade aging technology systems to help them reach and understand a constantly changing and developing customer and digital sphere. A single view of the customer, according to Meixner, may no longer be enough. The solution? House the customer data in one place, where brands can be quick on their feet and make informed, expedited decisions and responses based on the customer’s need and experience. By catering to the real-time customer experience, infusing commerce into the customer all-digital experience without friction, these brands are increasingly touching on what Meixner refers to as “real-time customer experience,” or real-time CX. In real-time CX, sales associates and customer service representatives become the trusted advisors of the customer’s experience and purchase. By automating and predicting service issues, brands gain the competitive advantage of the experience economy by eliminating friction and increasing the value of the customer’s experience.

 

Real-time CX may not be as far-fetched as we imagine. With the right investments, brands are edging towards a space of improved customer experience through anticipated needs and tailored experiences. Meixner advises that brands look for platforms and providers with a history of dealing with massive amounts of data, layering connected intelligence across applications for marketing innovation, commerce, customer service, and sales. Oracle Customer Experience cloud aims to create an experience that speaks the customer over the noise of all of their online interactions, solving issues like data quality, tech stacking, time to market, and more of the barriers that these retailers have recorded as their barriers to success. 

 

To get more insights like these, apply to attend CommerceNext 2020 today. The conference will take place on July 28-29th in NYC. Inc.com named CommerceNext one of "Top 5 ECommerce Conferences for 2019 and 2020." We hope you'll join us this summer.

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