“It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from. All that matters is where you are going” Unknown
So welcome back, its going to be another interesting year ahead – no doubt you’re either about to commence with some new initiatives for the year or heading into the planning stages of some.
Either way you’re going to have decide on a direction to move in, so here are some things to consider and hopefully action along the journey.
Much more of the same – while so much focus is placed on the operational battle lines between eCommerce and Traditional retail, we simply cannot forget that today’s customer (and even more so tomorrows customer) is becoming increasingly comfortable with a multi – device, always on, personalised and highly social, omni-channel retail experience.
In 2014, the inevitable influence of mobile became an undeniably critical component of retail, and specifically eCommerce, that has truly unlocked the ability for the customer to not only browse and buy, but do so from anywhere at anytime. If you’re going to do anything new this coming year it should be around improving your mobile experience.
The great challenge for 2015, and beyond, is undoubtedly the delivery of positive, meaningful, value – based experiences before, during and after the purchase occasion across all channels and devices.
Never before has the meaning of “location, location, location” been so absolutely stretched to its limits.
There are 2 Funnels to optimise – as the customer continues to embrace the absolute convenience of digital, and therefore leave a trail of data, our ability to measure and hopefully understand, and of course influence their purchase behaviour is reaching almost “Minority Report” proportions.
An e-Commerce strategy focusing purely on the continuous optimisation of the purchase funnel (acquisition and conversion) may certainly deliver on the short term terms for the business – but is inherently at risk of become exclusively data driven and in the long term damage the brand value. As Tom Fishburne puts it “What drives a conversion may not be the best in the long-term for the brand. It can also lead businesses to overlook the value of existing customers in favour of new user acquisition.
As Marketers, we must never forget that its people that use our products and services and the way to build long-term value (advocacy and loyalty) is through meaningful experiences. A good experience leads to the ultimate goal – referrals – a metric often overlooked in eCommerce performance measurements.
Referrals come from existing customers and successful interactions with them – maintaining and delivering on the needs of the existing customer base is vital function that successfully builds brands and creates new customer leads from word of mouth and is as important as crunching the numbers through the funnel and continuously optimising conversion.
In 2006 Seth Godin, wrote about “flipping the funnel” – more recently Ben Chestnut (cofounder & CEO of Mailchimp) describes how they turned the funnel upside down…http://tinyletter.com/ben/letters/why-i-hate-funnels
I believe there is huge merit to following a strategy that values both funnel types – I can assure you of one thing, neither are easy to maintain or sustain,
Which brings me to a final consideration for this year’s journey…
What’s your People Plan? – as experiences become increasingly personalised, so to does our perception of what we believe a great brand to be. Traditionally experienced through the brand iconography, the end product or its advertising – one of the most overlooked and distinctive touch points must indeed be the employees of the brand and their ability to deliver on brand promises and experiences. This is especially true in the modern organization where so many of the traditional silos begin to increasingly interface, not only with each other, but more directly with the customer.
But this is more than having the right people on the bus, or even the right people in the right seats on the bus. It’s about do the people on the bus understand and buy into the destination that the brand is on. Nothing can be more important and as influential to the brands success than a team of motivated, dedicated and fully engaged employees.
This notion is well documented by Harvard’s Business School (James Heskett, Service Profit Chain, 1994) and cites that “profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty…
- Loyalty is a direct result of customer satisfaction.
- Satisfaction is largely influenced by the value of services provided to the customer.
- Value is created by satisfied, loyal and productive employees.
- Employee satisfaction results from high quality support services and policies that enable them to deliver the experience as promised by the brand.
The links between engaged employees, profitability and better customer experiences are clear, perhaps more critically the links between disengaged employees and their effect on profitability, loyalty and the customer should be of greater concern to any organisation.
How engaged is your team? How truly satisfied are your customers?
So here’s to a successful journey in 2015 – if you’re needing assistance with your strategy, looking to replatform or optimise and especially if you’re starting from scratch – we’re a prepped and ready to assist in developing the best possible eCommerce and Omni-channel experience for your business and to go the distance with you to get there.