BigCommerce: Experiential Commerce is on the Rise
To remain competitive nowadays, brands are looking to deliver a unified and highly engaging digital retail experience known as ‘experiential commerce’. Being able to provide an exceptional online experience is a crucial component in driving your customers to your site—in contrast to shopping at Amazon, for example—with the added touch of personalization and the best-in-class content management system.
The era of a decoupled content and commerce approach is rapidly becoming the proven strategy to accumulate and sort content across multiple channels. Likewise, presentation layers have the added benefit of a decoupled ‘headless’ platform due to its flexibility and experiential base. Although it still may not be apparent to many who are still using a monolithic stack, consumers are shifting away from transactional interactions and toward experiential, personalized relationships across multiple touchpoints. So, why do we keep hearing the term ‘experience-driven commerce’, and what does it mean? Adobe breaks it down: “Experience-driven commerce = Maximizing sales by delivering customer experiences from discovery to purchase that are optimized with insights from real-time shopping behaviors and multichannel data.”
Of course, a CMS can be the most significant piece in creating these types of experiences, but how can brands deliver a unique and engaging shopping experience? This is where BigCommerce enters the picture. BigCommerce, a fully SaaS, headless, and cloud-first e-commerce platform has joined forces with Adobe to create a dedicated BigCommerce connector into Adobe Experience Manager.
I had the opportunity to speak with Joe Brannon, Global Commerce Practice Director at TA Digital, and Meghan Stabler, Global VP of Product Marketing at BigCommerce, to discuss the critical areas of experience-driven commerce, the challenges, and why brands should think about moving away from a monolithic stack.
How to Win the Customer Experience
Consumers are often disjointed and let down a confusing pathway of transacting. The brand experience is misconstrued, but product selection and ordering occur in a siloed, non-compelling environment; hence, opportunities to retain the buyer’s engagement are missed. To begin with, I asked Joe what his advice to brands who are still struggling to monetize experiences was?
“Successful brands understand the value of winning a highly engaged customer with a digital-focused approach. Brands struggle to shift their focus from a traditional strategy to a modern method for various reasons, including organization enablement and technical debt that increases operational expenses. We often find a brand’s digital commerce ecosystems is not suited to keep pace with the rapidly changing customer behaviors across expanding touchpoints. In other cases, we see brands with commerce platforms that alleviate complexities, yet undermine innovation and market differentiation, or in some cases, the technologies require orchestration and time-consuming development that is too complex and costly by diverting focus away from innovating the customer experience. This MIT Sloan Management Review article suggests for brands to succeed with the ‘always connected’ consumer, a decouple digital approach is essential. We know TA Digital’s Adobe® Experience Manager for BigCommerce Connector allows brands to focus valuable resources on the buyer motivation, interaction, story-telling, and customer experience.”
With AEM built natively into BigCommerce, data for AEM search, marketing, and analytic results allow for dynamic content updates and potential machine learning components. I asked Joe what were some of the challenges or barriers that a marketer could face with experience-driven commerce?
“In the current digital disruption era, the ever-evolving customer is placing pressure on marketers to focus on experiential commerce to capture and hold their attention. According to a recent Forbes article, ‘How to Overcome the Challenges of Data-Driven Digital Marketing’, marketers will need to know how to use historical and real-time data to identify personas to develop data-driven marketing strategies as a critical ingredient for success. Marketers should embrace digital technology as an enabler to solve customer problems and to improve the shopping experience significantly across all channels—this means CMOs and CIOs will require an elevated level of collaboration with shared beliefs which are co-reliant on success. Organizations will want to remove organizational barriers, replace traditional responsibilities, eliminate vertical loyalty, and realign their resources around the customer. With the increasing number of sales channels seemingly multiplying daily, marketers will be challenged with attributing a sale to determine the best return on investment and future focus and investment. Lastly, marketers will need to focus on expanding internal knowledge by levering strategic partnerships and enhancing their internal teams to succeed.”
Challenges with Digital Commerce
2018 was the year that most e-commerce brands were expected to move away from a monolithic e-commerce solution, and instead, integrate with other numerous technology vendors. Brands and merchants today need to enhance their agility and flexibility, especially in today’s fast-moving commerce business to meet customer demand. This brought up my first question for Meghan on why brands should move away from a monolithic stack, and how will this help them with their innovation?
“Gartner’s recently released report ‘2019 Strategic Roadmap for Digital Commerce’, published: 30 April 2019 ID: G00383379 cited ‘Delivering the Desired Customer Experience’ as one of the top challenges faced in digital commerce endeavors. Hardly surprising when one looks at the monolithic commerce tech stacks that firms have been burdened with for the past ten-plus years. These legacy platforms are not nimble, and the platforms can’t quickly respond to increased complexity as a business expands or to changing market and shopper trends. Today’s merchant needs rapid flexibility and feature integration that can enable innovation—a decoupled, headless commerce approach. Modern businesses rely on specialized resources to stay ahead of their competitors. Headless provides more flexibility, extensibility, and opportunities for innovation because the front end can be easily and quickly updated without interfering with the back-end operations. This is truly beneficial to help deliver the market demands and an awesome customer experience by immersing a digital experience platform into a merchant’s commerce environment. Key is rapid time to market. The flexibility of the BigCommerce platform comes from its powerful API-first philosophy for headless commerce integration. The TA Digital integration makes BigCommerce the most powerful and efficient commerce extension for a big portion of the Adobe® Experience Manager market.”
Of course, moving to a new architecture can take some time, but I asked Meghan what are some of the important areas that brands should be focusing on in order to implement experiential commerce?
“Without question, the most important area that brands should focus on is the customer—the customer experience from end-to-end. Building a great experience keeps customers coming back. Today’s customers expect exceptional experiences, and many businesses are undergoing digital transformation with the ultimate goal of providing better customer experiences. To provide a fully rich experience for the shopper, the firm must consider digitizing business operations (data, process, content), delivering connected customer experiences (persistent methods, content, multi and integration), and gather actionable customer insight (from social, marketing touch points to collected experience data into actionable analytics). Experience commerce can grow from the simple and basic personalization of an experience of the shopper to more advanced configurable workflows, and then further to full modularization of business services that can be quickly re-assembled in new ways. The power of BigCommerce’s headless commerce approach with TA Digital’s Adobe® Experience Manager integration can help drive the experience commerce faster and with a lower TCO than other solutions.”
When you look around, you are surrounded by ‘experiences’ in your everyday life. When you submit an order on your Starbucks mobile app, that’s an experience. When you click ‘Add to Cart’ for a pair of new shoes and proceed to their online checkout, it’s an experience.
The integration into Adobe Experience Manager allows the use of a SaaS solution on the back end, but in turn, also gives you the peace of mind on PCI Compliance. You have your site up and live, you have all of the integrations built in, and on the front end, you get to use one of the world’s best experience managers to build a front-end customer experience.