Digital innovation expert explains what brands need to know when they try to blaze a trail in online retail.
The traditional customer conversion funnel is gone. In order to win the hearts and wallets of digitally savvy consumers, brands must create innovative experiences that are so delightful, entertaining, or genuinely useful their target consumers can’t resist coming back for more. Brands need to consider the following five principals when building a successful e-commerce presence. Here’s a look at six companies blazing digital trails.
1: All Day Every Day, Access From Anywhere
“You are not a desktop brand. You are not a mobile brand. You need to be accessible from anywhere,” says Dave Surgan, Manager of Digital Communications at Morpheus Media. “Being accessible to your customers anywhere and everywhere is critical to success for any brand today.”
One of the best examples of access anywhere is going be Starbucks’ mobile payment app. “Having registrations and frictionless purchasing methods that do not involve shopping carts or lengthy checkouts are the keys to monetizing everywhere,” shared Surgan. Starbucks has enabled to customer to set personal preferences that allow them to find coffee anytime they need a caffeine fix and get it quickly.
Smart Retailers Should Know That Good Product Sells Itself
Over the past decade, marketers have continually shifted over how they should target customers – whether it be through, value, lifestyle or the simply the product itself. Here’s the thing, if a product is well designed, has a unique story and is utilitarian, enabling it’s user to make their life more efficient, they’re going to buy it. Good design sells, product centric sites like Of A Kind, Ahalife, Svpply and Fancy have proven that. When it’s applied to a retailer’s website, it’s the same effect.
Take a look at Italian leather goods maker Bagigia, they make one product (soon to be two, they’re developing an iPad case), a hot water bottle that doubles as backpack for it’s owner. “The idea suddenly passed by me, on a cold day in Milan: a woman, whose name I didn’t know, was casually carrying a hot-water bottle under her arm. It was love at first sight,” says Godi. “ I fell in love with the idea and with the easiness of that woman who, stared at by curious passers-by, was taking a stroll along Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. There followed a courtship that lasted many years, during which the hot-water bottle dressed up in leather, it took on many different colours, a hot die left the typical marks on the rubber surface, it was embellished by a stainless steel stopper, it became more practical thanks to a shoulder strip and finally it was given a name: Bagigia.”
Designer Gianmarco Godi has made his product’s story the artifact. The delightful brand delightful brand expression of storytelling translates the product into an e-commerce environment. Product, story, purchase: a simple, yet effective, formula for a product that sells itself.
Responsibility and Sustainability Result from Passive and Proactive Actions
Consumers are increasingly concerned with how their consumption patterns. They want to know where something was made, how it was made and what’s its impact on the local and global communities are. Enter Made Movement’s Collection, Made Movement is actually a marketing agency based in Boulder, Colorado that started their e-commerce initiatives to bring back American manufacturing.
Founded by David Schiff (who launched Coke Zero in 2004), Scott Prindle (AdWeek’s Top 10 Technologists in Advertising) and John Kieselhorst (UCLA Dept. of Architecture), the site. Made Movement’s socially responsible focus is on helping companies, brands and consumers participate in the movement toward more domestic manufacturing. The group is passionate about manufacturing goods domestically not only because it is good for the economy and creates jobs, but also because it tends to result in cleaner and greener manufacturing methods and less exploitation of workers than in developing nations. “All sorts of good things happen when we make stuff here, from new jobs to a smaller carbon footprint and leaner processes,” said Creative Director Alex Bogusky. “Red, white and blue is the new green.”
Customer Service Is Extremely Personal
The equestrian industry in United States is worth over $112 billion dollars, of which the $40 billion is related retail spending. SmartPak Equine is a retailer that caters to consumer group listed above. The company originally started out as nutritional supplement company for horses, over the past 10 years, they’ve expanded into online destination for every major retail category in the equine marketplace. While its website may be simple, its customer service strategy is not. From employing knowledge equine nutritionists to providing 24/7 customer service, satisfaction is at the heart of the company’s entire business model. Most recently, the company launched a program called ColiCare for its horse-owning customers.
“We wanted to find a way to increase the base of potential customers that were aware of supplements, but had their doubts about using them,” said Donnie Steele, VP of Marketing for Smart Pak Equine. “As any horse owner knows, colic is #1 cause of death in horses and one of the most expensive things to treat if it happens. Having just reformulated our SmartDigest Ultra formula to include more prebiotics, yeast and enzymes – three ingredients proven to lower the incidence of colic in horses, we realized the most impactful way to get the message across was to simply back our product with $7,500 of colic surgery reimbursement. Nothing says that we believe in our product like backing it with that much reimbursement.”
SmartPak continues to provide online retailers with a great example of how you can acquire and retain customers in targeted consumers groups by rewarding them for positive behavior related to the care of their animals and maintaining loyalty to their products.
Your Image Is Cohesive
Consist messaging and feel are key to any brand, no matter what they sell, one the best examples for omni-channel consistency is online retailer One Kings Lane. “Brands that are doing it right have a consistent look and feel across all consumer touch points. The last thing you want is a Sybil-like experience across devices,” says Janine Silvera, a marketing and media strategist. “One Kings Lane has nailed it. While consumer behavior varies by channel, the brand consistently speaks inspiration and discovery whether you’re following them on Twitter, repinning on Pinterest, or shopping their Tastemaker Tag Sales. It’s a seductive treasure hunt that leads to transaction.”
Why have consumers developed such a need for experience?
So how can brands accomplish a single, consistent point of view through the e-commerce experience? “It distills down to ease,” shared Silvera. There are three things you need:
- Frictionless Engagement: Wherever/whenever, make the consumer connection simple.
- Ease of Story: A simple, yet clearly articulated brand story across all touch points.
- Ease of Use: Make it seamless and fun for me to share their find.
How are you leveraging e-commerce to tell product and brand stories in order to increase customer experience, engagement and purchasing?
Photo Credit: One Kings Lane
Macala Wright is the Head of Digital Innovation & Strategy, US for Group Partners.