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How to thrive (or at least survive) as digital commerce marches forward

Apr 20th 2022 ecommerce

How to thrive (or at least survive) as digital commerce marches forward
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Omnichannel. The “Bring-it-to-me” economy. Touchless. Headless commerce.

Feeling left behind by all the modern technology that’s so fundamentally transforming ecommerce? Need a deeper understanding of the terms being thrown around? 

You’re not alone. Today’s typical digital commerce business model is almost unrecognizable from the static online storefronts of the 2000s.

But as this market evolves, ecommerce businesses need to scale their digital commerce platforms along with the rest of the sector. They need to provide leading customer-satisfaction practices in a number of key ways. It’s either that—adapt—or risk getting relegated to the has-beens that weren’t able to adapt

Guessing you don’t want to be left in the dust. 

What now? Start by knowing about the latest digital commerce trends. Then assess whether your company’s ecommerce practices are aligned, and go from there. 

What is digital commerce in 2022? 

Today, “digital commerce” spans a wide array of sales and engagement channels, as well as data sets, campaigns, and more. It goes far beyond online shopping. From social-media  engagement to point-of-sale interactions, digital commerce covers the ecosystem of the whole customer journey, from targeting the right consumers to customer acquisition and retention. 

Your company’s digital commerce strategy could touch any or all of these elements: 

  • Customer-facing applications (storefront and loyalty)
  • IoT applications for use in physical stores (such as GPS and radio frequency identification, RFID)
  • Point-of-sale (POS) technology (card machines, online payment systems)
  • Online storefronts
  • Digital campaigns 
  • Social media advertising and community management
  • Customer support (via phone, instant messaging, chatbot)
  • Marketing automation
  • Product and customer data (CRM, CMS, AWS KMS)
  • Intelligent search and personalization engines

Regardless of their particular mix of these approaches, businesses that want to succeed nowadays are spending considerable creating and maintaining a positive customer experience. In many cases, their efforts are paying off. Driven by new technologies and innovation, the global ecommerce market grew from $1,336 billion to $4,938 billion between 2014–2020, and it’s expected to reach $7,391 billion by 2025.

How digital commerce has evolved

Back when digital commerce was in its infancy (circa 1991), a customer would search for a product on a retailer’s website, find it, put it in their cart, and check out. Interaction with company over. 

Now, ecommerce touchpoints are positioned much earlier and in more places, and they continue to appear through the end of the customer-success journey. 

For example, someone could see a post on Instagram, stop scrolling, and read but not click. Then, another day, when they’re considering buying a product, the memory of that post might pop into their head. They might then search for the product, and perhaps decide not to buy it…until they see another ad on Facebook. This time, they click the ad and read about the product. They also sign up for email updates. They do a little research, looking at similar products on other companies’ sites or online marketplace sites. They again notice an ad on Instagram. This time, they not only click but make a purchase using Instagram’s mini browser. 

Phew; that’s a long process. Behind the scenes, the company monitors the customer’s interest in the product and what they’re doing, and their personalized digital marketing is accordingly tweaked. Their social media preferences, product search history, the amount of brand content they read — everything is considered within the confines of the business’s digital commerce approach. It’s involved, but it’s worth doing, as this type of personalized, AI-driven customer courting can be extremely effective.  

Key elements of a strong digital commerce strategy

How can you adapt your company’s digital commerce strategy to take advantage of the latest ecommerce technology? Here are some key elements you need.  

Personalization 

Eighty percent of consumers want to be treated to personalized experiences by brands, and 60% say they will become repeat buyers after a good personalized experience. Therefore, it’s important for companies to get personalization right. One way of achieving this is through using a personalization engine that can make intelligent product suggestions by considering multiple sources of customer data. The engine can then pinpoint a customer’s preferences, habits, and intentions, and approach them with these details “in mind.”  

A seamless experience

The average shopping cart abandonment rate for people shopping using mobile devices is considered to be around 86%, so there’s not much room for error when it comes to making things seamless from start to finish. One small issue or a slow page load could lose you a lot of business. A smooth buying journey is crucial for a great digital commerce experience, especially at the point of sale. 

An omnichannel approach

With so many channels to keep track of, it’s easy to lose track of some of them, or for different teams at your company to fall out of sync with the overall program. Adopting an omnichannel approach can help you avoid that. Omnichannel retailing essentially connects all your channels and synchronizes them using a central program or data management solution. This ensures that your customers have a consistent user experience across all your channels.This type of optimization also means you don’t lose out to competitors that are working multiple channels.

Intuitive, intelligent search

Online search experiences have changed significantly in the past decade. Conducting a search on Google can now be as simple as hitting a couple of keys and getting mind-bogglingly accurate results. That’s because Google’s algorithm employs user data, GPS coordinates, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to determine content relevance before presenting it to the searcher. 

When shoppers come to your website, they expect the same intelligent search experience they enjoy with Google. And if they don’t find it, Google Shopping and Amazon are lurking just a couple of clicks away. By adding a dedicated search engine as part of your digital commerce strategy, you can radically improve your customers’ shopping and discovery experiences and thereby increase the likelihood of customer happiness and retention.

Next-generation site search and personalization 

Algolia provides leading website search and personalization software. Our powerful API lets you seamlessly implement search on your website and in mobile applications. By making all your data silos accessible using a highly intelligent search and suggestion tool, you can ensure that your digital commerce strategy succeeds. 

Don’t get left behind: find out how Algolia can transform your search functionality for higher conversion and more. Contact us or request a free trial of our search software.

About the author
Catherine Dee

Search and Discovery writer

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