As e-commerce expands in both scope and importance, it creates new challenges for companies hoping to provide unified customer experiences that differentiate, generate revenue and improve customer loyalty. The shifting dynamic of online shopping is ushering in the “age of the experiential shopper” and forever changing the rules of business as usual.
A vast array of connected digital devices has put a portable shopping device in everyone’s hands, making it possible to shop anywhere and everywhere – 24 hours a day. Consumers are spending more time online researching products and services. As a result, this new breed of consumer is more informed, more empowered, and increasingly reliant on his or her own social community to make purchasing decisions.
Unfortunately, many companies are not prepared to cater to this new reality and have failed to recognize one of the most fundamental sea-changes in the world of digital commerce – the shift from a market dominated by transactional commerce to one based increasingly on experiential commerce.
According to Forrester Research, “It is no longer enough to enable an online catalog and transactional e-commerce: Today’s marketers want to tell brand and product stories through the deep personalization and contextualization of content and interactive digital experiences.”
Immersive Experiences and Frictionless Commerce
In contrast to the purely transactional approach, experiential commerce is more immersive. It attempts to understand the shopper throughout their journey, developing an emotional connection that delights, inspires and informs. These experiences have been common in retail stores for decades but have been neglected online, as the focus has largely been on the mechanics of a merchant’s interaction with a customer. Experiential commerce is characterized by:
Product discovery. Not all shoppers have a specific product in mind from the start, and price is not always the deciding factor.
Storytelling. When products are combined in real-time with rich media as part of a user story, they do a much better job of addressing the practical and emotional needs of the experiential shopper.
Context. The more that a brand can show that it understands the buyer’s purpose and story throughout his/her journey, the easier it will be to guide the shopper to a purchase decision.
Many companies, however, are not prepared to cater to the needs of the experiential shopper. To begin with, they often lack the appropriate technology, skills and processes. And many have entirely separate teams and systems for managing brand/marketing content and their e-commerce processes, making it difficult to create and deliver content-based, emotional shopping experiences that cross multiple channels and inspire this new breed of experiential shopper. In the absence of a unified, personalized experience, shoppers are forced to navigate these disconnected worlds on their own. Not surprisingly, many choose to abandon brand sites entirely and address their educational and inspirational needs elsewhere.
To learn more about unified experiential commerce and the value of today´s e-commerce shopping experiences, take the chance to get into contact with us at the Smarter Commerce Day 2015 or download the white paper “Bringing Content and Commerce Together” .
 Peter Sheldon, Stephen Powers, “Commerce And Content: The Perfect Couple Or A Tumultuous Affair?”, Forrester Research, November 19, 2013