From PSFK and Avalara's deep-dive research on how to build leading digital retail experiences, these six pillars outline key capabilities for future-proof ecommerce

Personalization at scale. 
Seamless, accurate checkout.
Fast, flexible, and reliable fulfillment.

These are the new consumer expectations.

The most successful retailers, brands and marketplaces are responding to these digitally-enabled expectations, as the divide between tech-enhanced leaders and lagging counterparts grows wider. Those armed with the agile digital infrastructure needed to efficiently support and process an influx of online traffic and purchases, as well as the smart supply chains capable of seamlessly shifting operations to match the real-time product and delivery demands, are positioned to earn longstanding consumer trust and loyalty.

PSFK recently partnered with Avalara, the leader in tax-tech, to lay out a roadmap for companies to deliver a best-in-class ecommerce experience.

“Consumers expect to search for products and services from anywhere, anytime, then receive those goods within days with real-time visibility on the entire shipment process, says Megan Higgins, General Manager, Ecommerce and Global Marketplaces at Avalara. As such, the onus is on ecommerce retailers of every size to set up shop on multiple online channels while maintaining a personalized and secure shopping experience.”

Read on to get a six-pillar snapshot of the trends covered in The Digital Commerce Playbook report.  You can download the full report HERE.

Seamlessness 

A truly seamless customer experience requires retailers to connect their customer-facing interfaces (desktop, mobile, social, voice and live) with their backend operations (data management, logistics, pricing, and tax). When combined with intelligent solutions and automation, these platforms ensure that customers receive the same level of experience across any retail channel, powering moments like purchase recollection, automatic tax calculation, and one-click checkout. H&M’s apparel sub-brand Monki is a perfect example, harnessing live product launches and try-on parties with virtual checkout integration, all of which allows customers to learn more about merch from the brand team in real time as well as shop directly as the event takes place.  

Personalization 

Within an increasingly crowded retail landscape, personalization is a competitive advantage. With a flexible service and supply chain, retailers can customize everything from product design to packaging, delivery, and customer support. AI-based retail personalization tools can power operational efficiencies while learning and addressing individual customer preferences. Uniqlo is a pioneer in the space, creating a mobile application and social platform called StyleHint in collaboration with Google’s Cloud Vision visual search tech. The app lets users upload photos of their own or from social media featuring apparel they like to give them similar style recs for purchase on Uniqlo’s site.

Transparency  

Transparency, privacy, and security have become top concerns for consumers and businesses alike. GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy regulations are changing the way that retailers collect and apply shopper data. Consumers want to know how their data is being applied in each retail transaction and to have control over its storage and application. Further, they expect their data to add value to their experience, whether through personalized recommendations or instantaneous estimations of taxes and fees for their purchase. Fast is a new opt-in online checkout service taking one-click purchasing to the next level, collecting a few pieces of info from customers once, then remembering their details for true click-to-buy shopping across the web.

1:1 Support 

Customers want to receive exceptional customer service regardless of where they choose to shop. Retailers are investing in digital tools to alleviate pressure points in the customer support journey. These tools can be fully digital customer interfaces, such as machine-learning chatbots, or they can be tools that help customer support agents do their job by offering a 360-degree view of a shopper’s past interactions and preferences. Inclusive apparel brand Universal Standard is already enabling these high-touch virtual shopping experiences, offering customers the chance to reserve a styling session with an associate over the likes of video chat to discuss fit, merchandise options, and to receive wardrobe recs in real time.

Responsive Operations

No matter how complex your supply chain, customers expect inventory availability across channels, and for their purchases to be delivered quickly, efficiently, and responsibly. From asset-tracking AI to delivery route optimization, retailers are tapping into intelligent tools to streamline end-to-end operations and fulfillment. Coupang is an ecommerce and fulfillment business pioneering on-demand delivery through localization, providing South Korean customers with the ability to order online and receive items in mere hours—while marshaling box-free hand-delivery for extra-sustainable service.

Loyalty Incentives   

Companies are realizing the inherent opportunity to extend customer relationships beyond the point of transaction. Top retailers are building customer loyalty by offering lifetime support, creating closed-loop retail cycles, and offering post-purchase touchpoints that keep customers engaged after the sale. A perhaps unexpected contender for top-notch loyalty programs is blender brand Vitamix, which debuted a rewards program that offers members points for viewing and participating with content like recipe videos, as well as educational resources that optimize their use of their appliance.

“Over the past decade, consumers have experienced a radical shift in how they think and go about their day-to-day shopping,” says  Megan Higgins of Avalara. “The rise of ecommerce platforms and online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and Facebook has significantly changed the digital shopping experience and elevated the expectations of consumers, which has created next-generation experiences driven by convenience,” 

For the in-depth research debrief The Digital Commerce Playbook filled with best-in-class examples of innovative brands and retailers leading the edge of digital customer experiences, download free HERE.