How COVID-19 is shaping the way we shop
Editor's note: Special contributor Min Rha works with Magento’s partners and merchant brands in the Asia Pacific. Connecting merchants to the right system integrators, payment providers and various partners, Min and his team help brands transform customer experiences, reduce business costs and get to market quickly.
Magento is the modern cloud commerce platform used by many of Adyen’s merchants including Althea, Daniel Wellington and Skin Inc. Flexible for B2C, B2B, and hybrid solutions, Magento extends beyond the shopping cart for every shoppable experience, including email, mobile, in-store, and marketplaces.
Magento’s local expertise in the region and worldwide are a fundamental pillar for companies expanding globally. This strategic partnership also helps organizations in their digital reinvention and adoption, and effectively addresses the needs and wants of shoppers from various demographics.
Customer expectations are undergoing a metamorphosis. As we move into an era of complete connectivity and limitless content, customers have become empowered. They are no longer at the mercy of big brand merchants pushing products to them. Shoppers have the autonomy to decide where to shop, when and what to buy and how they’d like to buy.
Now that brands are becoming so accessible to shoppers, it’s even harder to earn customers’ loyalty. Where a race to offer rock-bottom prices does not make sense, the only option is to enhance the customer experience. To do that, we look at what shoppers want:
With the increasing number of millennial and Gen Z shoppers, some organizations have started introducing mobile-only shopping experiences – using the smartphone as their core engagement/sales channel. It’s not just across the younger demographic. In countries such as China, India and Indonesia where digital equals to mobile, shopping is almost mobile-only. According to thenextweb.com, 95% of the people in APAC own a mobile subscription. It’s probably not too wild to say that the future is mobile.
The importance of content marketing has shifted over the years, and the applications along with that. Providing valuable and engaged content is a great way to show your customers you care, building their trust in a company’s brand. Just take a look at the following statistics from lifemarketing.com. 78% of consumers prefer to get to know a company via its articles rather than ads. 70% who receive custom content believes a brand is trying to build a good relationship with them.
With customers being able to interact with so many different channels and having content so accessible, it has become crucial for companies to provide engaging and relevant content to maintain mindshare of their customers.
Efficiency is the word. In a world where everything is moving so fast, customers are demanding easier ways to transact with companies. They want to be able to transact with a company on their terms and their preferred method. It is estimated that organizations lose up to 15% of their revenue by not offering the right payment methods to their customers.
Gone are the days of simply telling shoppers the expected delivery date. Customers are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of delivery dates and times (down to the hour). Not only do they want brands to provide delivery option, some customers expect to be able to pick up in store/return in store. They simply want to be able to buy and shop on their terms and if you don’t offer it, someone else will!
Brands venturing into new markets, especially in Asia Pacific, often opt to partner with marketplaces as a litmus test to gauge market interest and adoption of their products. Asia Pacific has a wide range of marketplace options ranging from Alibaba and Tmall in China, Rakuten in Japan to Lazada in Southeast Asia. For a brand, marketplaces are both partners and competition. On one hand, a brand is looking to leverage a market place’s reach. However, margins are squeezed and brands are often not in control of their brand experience, which is increasingly important in retaining customer loyalty.
Over the last 4-5 years, brands that originally entered the market via a marketplace strategy and have seen success are beginning to shift their focus into building their online shops. The objective is to drive a long-term sustainable business model and take back control of brand ownership, as marketplaces are often perceived as a race to the bottom.
Enterprise grade commerce solutions like Magento help companies build out their brand.com, and also give brands the ability to integrate their very own marketplace strategy. This way, they have a higher degree of ownership, via features such as inventory management. Ultimately, brands that are able to collect and retain their data are better placed in understanding their customer requirements and expectations, and that is key to any R&D effort.
Multichannel, omnichannel... Regardless of the term, the key is being able to provide customers with a unified experience. A channel is simply a window for a customer to interact with a brand, companies need to realize this to provide a seamless experience to their customers regardless of the method of engagement (from online to varying offline channels). Customers these days demand a highly personalized experience and expect brands to provide content and recommendations based on how they have interacted in the past.
There are limitless methods and tactics that can be deployed to create exceptional customer experiences. Here are a few simple ways to get started:
These may seem relatively straightforward and most savvy marketers would know they are simply best practices. In reality, very few companies are offering these experiences.
A major inhibitor of innovation and best practices within an organization is often created by the internal structural and operational processes set up by different functions of a business. It is crucial for any organization that is trying to put their customer at the center of their business, to stop working in silos, so there is much more cross-departmental collaboration with one common objective – customer satisfaction.
The biggest obstacle between offline and online is when they are run as separate businesses and each treating the other as competition that will cannibalize their business. Companies need to realize: a consumer has no interest in differentiating between online and offline, they expect to be provided a unified and consistent experience across any engagement channel.
Long gone are the days where a company can come up with a product that takes the market by storm leading them to global dominance. Every industry is competitive, and your brand could just be one in a sea of sameness. Companies that build their business around their customers’ needs and wants, using customer intel and data to continually evolve and innovate, are the ones that succeed. Shoppers will, indeed, determine if your brand prevails.
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