For those who weren’t able to make the yearly Ecommerce Expo, or simply didn’t have enough time to squeeze in the best talks, here are our main takeways from the event.
Key Takeaways From Ecommerce Expo 2018
This year’s Ecommerce Expo lived up to expectations - many stalls (with many sweets), an overwhelming amount of brilliant companies doing fascinating things, and lest we forget, jostling for a seat at industry talks.
From talks on omnichannel to personalisation to customer engagement, two days of information overload can leave us feeling slightly saturated and trying to figure out where on earth to begin. Yes - it’s all about the customer experience. Yes - retailers need to use data smartly and effectively. Yes - online and offline need to work together. But how do you join the dots?
Here are some of the most interesting takeaways from a packed two days at the Olympia Exhibition Centre which may help provide some clarity:
Do Your Homework on the Psychology of Consumers
Some interesting insight on consumer behaviour and decision-making processes were shared by several industry experts. David Khon, Customer & eCommerce Director at Heal’s touched on Fast and Slow Thinking - Fast being automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, unconscious thoughts, and Slow being effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious thoughts.
David argued that consumers tend to rely on fast thinking when making decisions because it’s sometimes too much effort for our brains to engage in slow thinking. Heal’s have been doing some work with Hero on bridging the gap between online and in-store (we covered Hero’s work with Harvey Nichols in our June Monthly Retail Round-Up), using a chat interface that provides a “digital touch” - consumers can speak to Heal’s store staff instantly and ask for advice in real time, helping them with “the tyranny of choice that makes it difficult for consumers to navigate” so they can come to a decision quicker.
Customer expectations are higher than ever at every part of the journey, with the speed at which they get through that journey being paramount. Jonathan Bowers, MD, UKFast did a talk titled ‘The Psychology of Speed in Ecommerce’ where he informed us that consumers “will wait for live chat for 45 seconds” and have a “want it now” attitude. Jonathan explained that our brains remember the first moment and last moment of any shopping experience – landing page and shopping cart, so retailers better be sure the experience of getting there was as quick and painless as possible if they want to stay in the good books. Essentially, speed = happy customers.
Give Customers the Right Message at the Right Time Through the Right Channel
Easy, right? In principle yes, in practice, not so much. The consumer is a fickle, complicated beast that can change their mind or behaviour in an instant. Understanding their intention when interacting with your brand online or in-store is tricky enough, then putting the perfect product in front of them that meets their expectations at that exact time is the next challenge.
Skip Fidura, Strategy & Insight Director, DotMailer expressed the importance of the timely nature of messaging, “The consumer wants us to be where they want to be, when they want to be there, delivering what they want to hear in a format that is convenient to them at that moment.” Skip’s stat of 5x more people reading the subject line than actually opening the email highlights the importance of making sure communication is delivered when the consumer is wanting/expecting it and really nailing subject lines.
Oliver Jones, Commercial Director, UK – Insider spoke about real-time influencing and why customer context is key. Understanding data instantly to influence consumer decision making at that very moment to drive that next transaction (whenever it may be) is extremely powerful.
Data - The Foundation to Everything
NBrown is an example of a retailer who transformed their business - because of their customer’s demands, they moved seamlessly from a catalogue business to an online business. Ann Steer, NBrown’s Chief Customer Officer, stressed that retailers must make data a priority. 90% of new NBrown customers come through digital channels, and they’ve invested heavily in data to unlock opportunities to “decode the past and reinvent the future”.
Our Co-Founder Sarah McVittie wrote a whitepaper on how retailers can leverage the data they hold to reduce return rates. Download it for free.
Simon Calvert, Trading Director, Bonmarché highlighted that data and technology are crucial to producing customer insight that drive effective decision making. As far as he’s concerned, there’s only one KPI and that’s customer satisfaction which is achieved by exceeding their expectations in every way.
In Case You Hadn’t Heard, It’s All About Mobile First and In-store Experiences
Mobiles are increasingly becoming somewhat of a third arm - without it, you feel lost, and only when it is taken away from you do you realise your reliance on it to help you navigate the world and influence the decisions you make. This doesn’t stop at figuring out how to get from A to B - we use mobiles to browse, buy and research products 24/7 whether we’re commuting or waiting impatiently for that friend who’s always late.
Nicola Millard, Head of Customer Insights & Futures, BT emphasised how smartphones are becoming more important in delivering exceptional digital experiences and how we need to think more broadly in terms of “swipes and voice interfaces”. She revealed that 79% of people are more loyal to organisations that are easy to contact, and 56% of people said convenience was more important to them than the price of the product. Chatbots are a popular and effective way of communicating with customers, but as Nicola correctly pointed out, “chatbots are only as good as the data you give them.”
In addition, data can and should be used in stores to speak to customers on a truly one-to-one level. As Simon Calvert pointed out, “technology enables us to be better shopkeepers” - it’s all about creating a more interactive experience in store, whether through giving style advice or helping the customer validate a purchase. Seth Ellison, Executive VP and President, Europe, Levi’s explained that the brand was proud of the collaborative experience it has created between the customer, their partners and employees, which in 2017 delivered the best results they had for two decades.
The way to your customer’s heart is to truly understand them and what they are looking to achieve when interacting with your brand. However, your work is never truly done - customers preferences evolve over time, with their end goals changing constantly too. Getting under their skin through the clever use of data and technology and maximising the learnings you can gain from their various touch points, will help tailor those experiences both in-store and online.