Diving into the Episerver Commerce Report 2019
Last month, Episerver released its annual global consumer report regarding digital shopping experiences. The 2019 report shows a plateau in digital commerce; meaning that brands have to keep up with the trends to stay relevant. The report takes an in-depth look at the tactics, trends, and technologies that brands are using to drive digital sales.
The insights from this study provide retailers guidance on the steps they should take to increase sales and notes the trends that are proving to push brands to the top of their field. This year’s study confirms that some of the trends that we have been seeing are continuing to stand true, such as the power of influencers. It found that 52 percent of online shoppers who use social media have clicked on an influencer’s post, and a third of those shoppers—31 percent—have made a direct purchase from the post. This key finding proves that social media and influencer marketing is still a strong asset for brands.
eCommerce is an overpopulated and sometimes chaotic landscape. The report’s findings emphasize the importance of standing out to succeed when 46 percent of online shoppers reported having failed to make a purchase due to being overwhelmed by options. What’s more, the fact that ineffective or incorrect content will sway users away from a purchase was confirmed with 98 percent of shoppers saying it has stopped them from completing a purchase. This verifies what we all should know—to ensure that content is correct and cohesive.
CMSC connected with Episerver’s Jeff Cheal, Director of Product Strategy for Personalization, Campaign, and Analytics, to discuss the Reimagining Commerce 2019 report. Keep reading to delve into some of his insights on the new and exciting trends facing digital commerce today.
The report mentioned that “61 percent of consumers prefer marketplaces (Amazon and others) for their price options and over half (58 percent) for their product selections” when shopping online. Consumers have come to expect the reliability of marketplaces like Amazon when shopping online. The usability and ease of ordering from Amazon make it a go-to for online shoppers. On top of this, consumers often price check items they plan on purchasing on Amazon to ensure that they are getting a competitive price. We asked Jeff to tell us more about this:
The report mentions that “87% of online shoppers compare what they find on a brand or retailer’s site to Amazon.” Why do you think online shoppers often, or always, compare what they find on a brand or retailer’s site to Amazon, whether they have a product in mind or they’re looking for pricing options?
“Online shoppers often turn to Amazon for its wide variety of price options, product selections, and shipping features, but it’s the wisdom of the crowd that drives customers to use Amazon to comparison shop. Amazon is known for its abundance of customer rankings and product reviews that give customers an insider look throughout their path to purchase. Customer reviews add extra color to the shopping experience and provide an honest perspective on potential purchases and play a role in delivering the kind of seamless digital experience that consumers value.
Today’s competitive retail landscape also requires a level of innovation that goes beyond transactions, and Amazon has mastered this approach. The company’s advanced flywheel business model uses growth and scale to improve the digital customer experience through greater selection, low prices, and a focus on making the experience as seamless as possible, which is why consumers tend to lean toward Amazon when it comes to researching and comparing products.
The good news is that while Amazon remains a leader in the space, competitors still have the opportunity to stand out and earn customer loyalty. Unique and valuable experiences lead shoppers to develop emotional, personal connections with brands. By focusing on experience-driven commerce and personalization, brands can cater toward each individual shopper’s unique state of mind to advance personal connections with shoppers and encourage them to come back for future purchases.”
Voice purchase is a somewhat newer advancement that has shown an 80 percent growth over last year. Consumers are increasingly turning to voice for their research and purchasing needs, which is undoubtedly linked to the increase in popularity of personal voice devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Jeff shared insights about the future of voice.
Why should brands and retailers consider using voice to attract frequent shoppers for repeat purchases instead of using traditional channels to build relationships with new customers or less frequent shoppers?
“Consumers are expected to make 50% of all searches via voice in 2020, meaning that retailers must prepare to embrace this new mode of search. And while voice commerce still has a long way to go, it’s making major advances in places where it can drive convenience for shoppers. In fact, nearly a quarter (21%) of people using mobile devices for voice search are doing so just to avoid typing, indicating an opportunity for brands to use voice to eliminate the burden of search and build relationships with consumers who are turning to voice devices. For example, brands should take advantage of voice technology like Siri to push the boundaries of customer engagement through features like shortcuts for performing simple tasks and creating personalized commands.
While consumers are shopping and purchasing more on voice, security concerns prevail. Our recent study found 43% of consumers say a lack of security of features was the number one reason they won’t make more purchases via voice-enabled devices in 2019. It’s important for brands to keep this in mind when implementing emerging technologies like voice. By balancing disruptive shopping experiences with more established tactics (e.g., email and search), brands can delight frequent shoppers while maintaining relationships with less frequent shoppers as well.”
With all of the high-tech advancements in digital commerce, successful brands are still taking customer experience (CX) into account; not just online, but also the integration of technology into the in-store shopping experience. By implementing technologies to benefit CX for all customers, whether they are online or in-store, brands are creating relationships that go beyond transactional. These customer relationships become emotional, often resulting in repeat customers. We asked Jeff how he foresees the progression of CX.
The report also mentions, “traditional retailers are using technology to improve the customer experience and deliver new perks through sophisticated loyalty programs, bridging the online, in-store gap.” Besides loyalty programs, where do you think the next significant CX shift will take place and why?
“What we’re seeing is that traditional retailers are struggling to differentiate themselves from competitors, but they understand the value in innovation, and as a result, they’re looking to adopt the latest technology to improve the customer experience and get ahead. It’s likely we will see brands start to integrate robots and AI at a greater scale to improve productivity. Robotics can also help brands to differentiate themselves as forward-thinking to their customer base. While they might not directly make a more seamless customer experience better, they help brands stay relevant in the conversation and appear as a thought leader in innovation in today’s crowded digital shopping ecosystem.
Walmart is making big strides in the robotics area. The retail juggernaut has previously made major investments in its digital commerce initiatives — introducing in-store mobile checkout and combining big data insights and AI for automated merchandising and unique product recommendations. Walmart is testing the waters in the robotics space after announcing plans to expand its partnership with Brain Corp, an AI company creating core technology for the robotics industry. The goal behind the expansion is to increase the use of robots in stores and in daily operations to allow employees to place a greater focus in areas like e-commerce and customer service. We anticipate this will be a growing trend as robotics have the ability to take on operations that underpin the customer experience and enable brands to design, produce, support products, and services more efficiently.”
While 88 percent of online shoppers say that it is of high priority to have personalized online experiences, a whopping 93 percent understandably say that companies must respect their online privacy. Anonymity and privacy play a significant role in the minds of consumers. With identity theft and fraudulent retailers being all too prevalent in our increasingly online world, consumers want to know how their information is being shared and utilized. Jeff provided us his take on data privacy.
Data privacy is always a huge topic of discussion when it comes to online shopping. What are your thoughts on brands and retailers being more selective with incorporating personal information into a shopper’s experience?
“Data privacy should be top of mind for brands — especially in an era of security breaches and growing consumer distrust over the way companies handle their personal information. Our research found that a large majority of online shoppers (93%) say it is the same or higher priority for brands and retailers to respect their anonymity online in 2019 compared to last year — and rightly so.
Consumers need to grant permission to brands who are using their data. It is the responsibility of the brand to prove to consumers that they are using their data to help improve their customer experience and make life easier. Consumers will trust brands with more data as long as they see the instant results. For example, brands can improve a consumer’s shipping or browsing experience in exchange for their home address. Much of consumer distrust results from concerns that third parties are collecting and selling their data for corporate gain without any value to the consumer, and without privacy safeguards.
While the collection of personal data plays a significant role in offering shoppers unique online experiences, it’s crucial for brands to prioritize consumer privacy. Brands must proactively inform shoppers about their data privacy and collection practices. By generating more content that better educates consumers on how their personal information is used and stored, brands can deliver more tailored, personalized interactions for their customers, earn their trust and build long-term brand loyalty.”
Forty-six percent of online shoppers with a product in mind for purchase start their online purchase journey at a marketplace (Amazon included).
When shopping online, 60 percent of consumers prefer marketplaces (Amazon and others) for their price options and over half (58 percent) for their product selections.
Eighty percent of the most frequent online shoppers often, or always, compare what they find on a brand or retailer’s site to Amazon—but just 60 percent of the least frequent online shoppers do so at the same rate.
Seamless transactional experiences are the standard. Online shoppers report that the top three capabilities or features that brands and retailers should support include free shipping (67 percent), shipping tracking (61 percent), and information about returns (52 percent).
In addition to a streamlined checkout experience and effective shipping procedures, digital commerce trends are becoming more and more about the customer experience. The 2019 Online Shopping Habits and Retailer Strategies Report outlines key trends and factors that any eCommerce retailer will need to consider. We, in the industry, can look toward the exciting future of voice purchasing and eCommerce experiences that are tailored to individual customers. By using smart technology and listening to the trends in eCommerce, brands and retailers can successfully develop and continue to offer exceptional online experiences for their customers.
Find Episerver’s Full Report Here