“In the Moment” Personalization: What Mobile Shoppers Want

It’s time to move a step beyond personalized promotional emails. Targeting and location-based personalization on mobile phones is now possible, and this technology gives retailers a new ability to be present for a customer’s “in the moment” need or want.

The Personalization Features Your Customers Want

In-Store

Accenture research finds that 60% of shoppers want to receive real-time promotions when they’re inside a store. Among the most popular:

  • 82% enjoy automatic discounts at checkout for loyalty points or coupons
  • 57% like real-time promotions
  • 54% like complementary item suggestions

On-the-go

The desire for a personalized experience isn’t limited to in-store. For more general personalized mobile promotions, the most popular features include:

  • 64% want website optimization by device
  • 59% want promotional offers for the specific item the customer has been looking at, and want personalized navigation that makes it easier to find items relevant to their browsing history

With 59% of shoppers comparing prices before buying an item, personalized promotions may be the best way to pull a customer’s attention back to your product.

Know Your Customers: The Best Features for Each Demographic Are Different

There are some generational differences when it comes to which consumers are willing to share information with retailers.

  • Millennials are most willing to share information and are most receptive to product advice and recommendations.
  • Baby Boomers are more demanding and have higher expectations for rewards in exchange for their data.
  • According to the study, 74% of Baby Boomers expect to get automatic crediting for coupons and loyalty points and 70% expect special offers, compared to 58% and 61% of Millennials, respectively.

“Leading retailers understand that every shopper is different and look for insight in terms of what works best across product and service lines or with high-value customers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director for Retail, Accenture Strategy. “It is critical to test how customers might respond to a particular personalization strategy. Data-driven testing should include the behavior of individual customers, demographic indicators and factors relating to the item itself. For instance, while some people may want to be told they are out of milk, they may not feel the same way about personal care products.”

The Right Way to Personalize: Tell a Story

  • Tell the Right Story — Catching customer attention means creating a story that focuses on your brand and product to connect with your customer. Use “in the moment” personalization to build on the desires that bring a customer to your brand in the first place. A story is more than discounting; personalized discounts only appeal to a smaller subset of discount shoppers.
  • The Right Way — Shoppers are sharing their experiences with social media and other user-generated content, including product reviews. They are getting increasingly blind to paid media and referrals. Make it easy for your shoppers to share your story and then, get out of the way.
  • At the Right Time — Understand where the shopper is in the shopping journey and target messaging to make the most of the micro-moments. Learn more about how to find and win the micro-moments here.

5 Ways Customer Experience Impacts the B2B Bottom Line

B2B companies are seeing the impact of happy online customers—repeat web business has been key to growing sales. For example, industrial supply giant Grainger has found that an easy, well-designed online shopping experience can triple sales by existing customers.

A Gartner survey confirms that “Customer Experience is the New Battlefield.” Eighty-nine percent (89%) of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. That experience is becoming mostly defined by online interactions—by 2020 85% of the activities associated with the relationship between the customer and a business will be virtual.

So, among all of the many good reasons to focus on and invest in a world-class customer experience: it’s good for the bottom line.

5 Stats on Customer Experience

  1. 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience — Remember that your B2B buyer is also a B2C shopper. Their expectations have been shaped by their B2C experiences: they want high-quality customer service and thorough online shopping options.
  2. 74% of consumers have spent more due to a good customer experience — An American Express study shows that happy customers spend more.
  3. Up to 20% of annual revenue is lost from poor customer experiences — This Oracle CX survey highlights the need for new approaches to deliver a seamless experience.
  4. 42% of service agents cannot efficiently resolve customer issues due to outdated systems — There’s a huge opportunity to improve bottom-line profitability by improving both processes and infrastructure.
  5. 59% (three in five Americans) would try a new brand or company for a better experience — Consumers vote with their wallets. According to this American Express survey, 78% of consumers will bail on a transaction because of a poor experience.

There’s no room for doubt: it’s time to take a hard look at your current customer experience and invest in the people, processes, and e-commerce technology that can help you make it better.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) | The Future of B2B E-commerce

Paas Platform as a service

It’s time to dive a little deeper into the options for creating a B2C-like e-commerce experience for your B2B customers. We’ve looked at the unique needs of your B2B customers. Addressing those needs means offering strategic “self-service” options—your B2B customer wants to be able to find product availability, shipping offers, order status, quick ordering (and re-ordering) processes, integration with shipping partners and a full service payment gateway.

Now, how do you make all of that happen? What is a manageable solution for the ever-changing and complex needs of your B2B customers? Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions are becoming an increasingly popular option. They allow you to introduce new features on an as-needed basis, update functionality without starting over, and are designed to customize to various customers and internal requirements—they are flexible and changes are quick-to-deploy.

PaaS Advantages: Customization & Integration

PaaS systems offer two important elements for supporting B2B e-commerce:

  • Quick to-deploy, API-first platforms support customization — these platforms support modern technologies and enable developers to develop custom user interfaces.
    • Customized User interface — You may have a variety of customers with different pricing contracts, product selection and purchasing processes. If so, you need to customize the user interface based on customer type and industry. A modern PaaS platform makes it easier for developers to meaningfully customize and create the most relevant user experience.
    • Personalized experience — Tailoring merchandising and promotions is facilitated by PaaS systems built for customization. They allow you to create the personal touch B2B users have come to expect.
  • Easy integration
    • Integration with commercial applications — Integration capability allows you to offer multiple payment options and to integrate with logistics partners so that it’s easy for customers to do business with you.
    • ERP and back-end database integration — PaaS can offer integration with virtually any existing system, software, and data source so back-end needs are also managed seamlessly. 

Streamlining updates and add-ons with a PaaS system allows you to focus on meeting the rapidly progressing needs of your B2B customers.



Want to discuss Platform-as-a-Service Options?

Why You May be Missing More than 70% of Your Mobile Sales Opportunity

Demographics rule as a way to model and target marketing campaigns, right? As it turns out, marketers who rely on demographics alone may be missing out on up to 70% of potential mobile shoppers, according to statistics analyzed over at Think with Google.

Here’s the problem. Take a hypothetical video game company. It uses demographics to determine that its core customer base is men aged 18-24. If it spends all its time marketing toward that base, it loses out on about 70% of mobile searches for video games—only 31% of mobile searches for video games are by consumers in that core demographic.

Mobile Marketing Needs to Focus on Customer Intent

Let’s take a step back. What’s the difference between demographics and customer intent?

Demographics are statistical data that group consumers together based on common attributes such as location, income, age or gender.

Customer intent is an analysis of the context in which the customer is making a purchase—what need or want in the moment leads to buying, and when, where and how is the customer buying.

Figuring Out Customer Intent

So when and where do you market to the 60% of baby product purchasers who live in a household that doesn’t have kids? To find out, we need to study the micro-moments in the customer journey. The when, where and how that lead up to a purchase give us insight into when, where and how to capture that audience. A good marketing campaign will be there in those quick moments when a mobile-searcher, maybe a grandparent, friend, coworker or uncle, is looking for product information and visiting a business (whether online or heading to a nearby physical store).

This means we need to reframe how we research and think about our core customers. Demographics will continue to play a very important role when it comes to creating content and targeting consumers. But when it comes to mobile, we need to study location history and consumer purchase behavior to give a customer what they need or want in the specific moment. We need to use mobile search data to combine demographics with in-the-moment purchasing activity.

E-merchandising Tools: What Are They & Why Do They Matter?

Online shopping offers the variety of options that customers crave, but comes with a clear risk of information overload. It’s no surprise that personalized product recommendations make up a noticeable portion of sales. So, is it time to look into e-merchandising tools that offer more relevant and targeted recommendations?

Yes, says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-Tailing Group: “As best-in-class merchants raise the bar, keeping up with requisite functionality will be just the beginning . . . More differentiation and more creative execution of merchandising, both onsite and via e-mail, will be the next initiatives to require resource commitments.”

What are E-merchandising tools?

Let’s start with a basic definition: online merchandising involves choosing featured products and promoting them in a way that increases the likelihood that a browser will turn into a buyer. This can be done in 2 ways, using: 1) general marketing campaigns and 2) e-merchandising tools.

General merchandising activities are often campaign-based. They are linked with specific paid search campaigns and email blasts. They are broadly tailored to a customer profile, but not to actual customer behavior. This approach works well for home page and category landing pages, but loses effectiveness deeper in a site where more specific information is needed to differentiate products for the particular customer.

E-merchandising tools, on the other hand, make it possible to target real-time shopping behavior. These tools dynamically target promotions, product recommendations and even navigation based on the real-time shopping behavior of individual visitors by leveraging proven machine-learning technology. This technology can deliver a more personalized experience, identifying the customer’s intent by analyzing their clicks, views and navigation.

Why is E-merchandising Important?

Product recommendations are key. They are a proven way of increasing revenue, conversion rates, and average order values. It’s not uncommon for online retailers to report between 2-5% of total website revenue attributed to product recommendations. Powerhouses like Amazon show between 20-35% of total product sales resulting from product recommendations.

Retailers that personalize the shopping experience across channels are seeing an increase in engagement, sales, and customer satisfaction.

According to a study by MyBuys and The E-Tailing Group:

  • 40% of the respondents said they buy more from retailers that personalize the shopping experience across channels.
  • 41% buy more from retailers that send them personalized emails.
  • 39% buy more from retailers that personalize web recommendations.

Based on MyBuys’ database of over 250 million shoppers, customer-centric marketing delivers a 25% increase in total online sales and gives a huge boost to customer lifetime value.

Retail sites that offer the best personalization will win as most relevant to consumers. E-merchandising technology captures customer intent at a level beyond customer profiles or prior purchases. It gives you the opportunity to anticipate and fulfill your customer’s next want.

5 Tips to Find and Win the Micro-Moments

Micro-moments are critical touch-points in today’s customer journey—they are the moments when a consumer with a smart phone thinks: I need to go somewhere, I need to get something, I need to know the answer to this question right now. Every time someone picks up their phone, there is an opportunity for your company to be the one that gives them exactly what they want in that moment. That split second of satisfaction can make an immediate, and maybe loyal, customer.

Micro-moments create endless opportunities to connect with people, but which ones are worth pursuing?

5 Tips for Finding the Right Micro-Moments

1. Identify the top mobile-centric searches that lead to your company — Are customers coming to you because they are searching for a product in a nearby location, or are they looking for the answer to a how-to question? Tap into your analytics tools and resources like Google Search Console to discover how customers are ending up at your site via smartphone. Then plan relevant and eye-catching content for the particular questions your customers are asking.

2. Analyze the most popular questions asked of your brand and/or product category — Invest in resources to help you find and analyze the most common “what, when, and how” queries for your brand or product category. Know how customers get to your product, but also how they get to similar products. Think about whether your content can give them a more direct, thorough, or relatable answer than your competition.

3. Reframe consumer surveys — Focus on the when, why and where of customers connecting with your products, instead of just traditional questions about brand perception and customer demographics.

4. Leverage your internal team to create new ideas — Pull knowledge from all parts of your team—customer service, merchandising, marketing, or technical. Gather data about customer touch-points including call and chat logs and interactions with existing campaigns. Collaborative brainstorming with all of these groups gives you the best chance of identifying and matching customer intent.

5. Experiment with in-store interviews — If you have retail locations, visit them. Talk to customers you observe using their smartphones while browsing in product aisles: find out what they were looking for and whether or not the found relevant results.

A small device doesn’t mean a small purchase, so don’t miss the opportunity to make the most of it.

Considering a New E-Commerce Platform? 5 Must-Ask Questions

Buyer expectations include a unified customer experience across all channels and devices; if your current e-commerce platform isn’t meeting customer needs, it’s time to take a hard look at the topic of re-platforming.

But a shiny new platform won’t be shiny for long if you haven’t thought about your long-term vision, priorities and existing and future systems. Re-platforming is a large-scale project. The key is to understand and define your internal requirements before you start reaching out to vendors with an RFP. It’s amazing how many differences of opinion can emerge when defining the needs of an organization—don’t run the risk of failed implementation with a shift in priorities after the project has started.

5 Pre-RFP Questions for a New E-Commerce Platform

  1. Who are your customers and how do they interact with you? Ask yourself how you currently sell and fulfill, and how your customers buy from you. Who are your future customers; will their online behavior differ from your current customers? Make sure your platform can serve differing needs over time.
  1. How involved do you want to be with ongoing management of the solution? There are pros and cons to a SaaS versus the traditional approach for hosting your solution—the right answer depends on your preferences, budget, and resource availability.
  1. What is your ongoing support strategy? Do you feel too reliant on IT resources for managing your storefront right now? Think about the specific activities you would like to move into the hands of business users.
  1. What systems will require third-party integration? A comprehensive list of third party systems and applications (e.g. product reviews) that might be replaced by the new platform is a must to include in your RFP.
  1. What are the requirements of your OMS? Identify your back end requirements, such as inventory visibility and shipping requirements, to make sure you can discuss how your new system will address your needs in each area.

Extra Tips

  • Don’t get stuck trying to mirror the functionality you already had. Find a system that fully addresses long-term customer needs.
  • Don’t make your decision based on a demo alone. There are more than a few differences in e-commerce solutions when you look under the hood—make sure you thoroughly understand the system’s omni-channel offerings and how the system impacts all areas of your business. Prioritize finding the right long-term partner.

Four Question Quiz: Are You Keeping Up with the Right E-Commerce Platform?

We all know that sales have shifted from in-store to online purchasing. Shopper expectations now include high-functioning websites: they want to easily find product information, they don’t want to waste time browsing products that aren’t relevant, and they especially want to buy when they are ready to buy—that means they better be able to buy from their phones. These expectations can put a lot of pressure on small to mid-size sellers (both B2C and B2B) to keep up with the user-centered navigation of larger e-commerce websites.

But giving shoppers all the options they want is not optional. E-commerce that doesn’t function well will lead to lost sales.

So it’s time for the quiz: Are you using the right e-commerce platform?
#1: Do you get customer complaints about any of the following?
     o Products are hard to find
     o Search results aren’t relevant
     o Navigation isn’t consistent throughout the website
     o Slow page load times
     o Customers can’t figure out how to complete a purchase

#2: Does your platform include omni-channel ability, which keeps the buying experience consistent across channels and devices?

#3: Can you complete minor changes to your website quickly and without breaking other parts of your site?

#4: Can you implement marketing strategy without having to involve IT staff, including:
    o Personalizing product recommendations
    o Targeting marketing and merchandising campaigns
    o Boosting and/or burying products at a category level

If your current platform isn’t meeting the needs of your customers, it’s time to consider a new e-commerce platform. The right choice will be a platform that can integrate with your existing systems, give your customers the options they want, and is designed to customize to your specific needs.

Make sure to identify your internal requirements and set out your priorities and vision before you reach out to vendors. Implementing a new platform is a large-scale project and you don’t need the complications of a shift in priorities midstream.

Check back on our blog for more posts that will help you identify your priorities.

Beyond B2C: The Must-Have E-commerce Features for B2B

thanx blog beyond B2C Once you understand the motivations and buying habits that separate B2B buyers from B2C shoppers, the next step is structuring your e-commerce site to address the more specific demands of B2B buying.

Common E-commerce Features with a B2B Twist

You’ll need to use common B2C features but boost functionality to address more complicated B2B buyer needs.

Quick order –“Quick order” for B2B means more than entering a product number to make a purchase. Make it easy to order multiple items at a time, place a reorder, and export data from the buyer’s account.

On-site search – Smart auto-complete is important in both worlds to make a buyer’s experience easier and faster. B2B buyers also need to search by product number and manufacturer part number.

Guided navigation and Faceted search – Make your product menus comprehensive, with options to narrow and filter categories of products so buyers can quickly find what they’re looking for. Include the ability to narrow search results on multiple product attributes such as manufacturer, make and model, and application.

Product detail page – Every buyer needs product details; for a B2B buyer include the item #, manufacturer part #, UPC code, and any relevant cross-reference #’s to help meet the buyer’s exact specifications.

Split shipping/Multiple “Ship To” addresses – It’s common for a B2B buyer to have responsibility for purchasing goods across multiple locations. So make sure they can ship the contents of a single cart to multiple shipping addresses.

Personalization – Since most B2B transactions require a login, a seller has a wealth of buyer information to work with. Use information about the buyer’s company, industry, and transaction history to personalize content and product offers.

B2B Specific Features

B2B buyers have custom concerns that need additional custom features.

Quotes and RFQ – Encourage new B2B buyers by allowing them to “Request for Quote” without having to create an account and log in. Make it easy for them to turn a finalized quote into an order by making sure your system is set up to honor any special contract pricing.

Competitor cross reference – Including competitor cross-reference numbers in the search experience may sound like advertising against yourself, but actually allowing a customer to compare your product, and find corresponding parts, by using competitor part numbers can make you a valuable resource for alternatives and comparisons.

Custom catalog and contract pricing – Contract pricing and special product offerings can be complex to execute in e-commerce but are also one of the most important features in B2B sales. After login, a customer should see only products they are allowed to purchase, and only their contract prices should be displayed (including volume discounts).

Don’t just rely on B2C features to create a customer-focused B2B e-commerce experience.  Optimize those features for more sophisticated buying habits and add additional features to promote long-term relationships with your B2B buyers.

Are B2B Buyers and B2C Shoppers Different?

Thanx Media Blog B2B vs B2C shopper

The blurring line between B2B and B2C buying continues to be one of the most popular topics in e-commerce. When we know that B2B consumers have begun to expect a B2C-like experience online, should we just use one model?

Not quite. A B2B buyer is not the average online shopper looking for the best deal on a new pair of shoes. No, B2B buyers are not leisurely browsing commercial furniture or appliances; they don’t “window shop”. Instead, B2B buyers are more directed, want real details about your products and services, and want to build long-term relationships.

The B2B Buyer vs the B2C Shopper

Business buyers are sophisticated and may even understand your products better than you do. They:

  • buy products to stay profitable, competitive and successful
  • are far less likely to succumb to impulse buying behavior
  • have a high interest in educational content about the products and services they buy
  • negotiate pricing contracts
  • may place frequent repeat orders
  • need access to purchase history and account activity

B2C shoppers are increasingly tech savvy and are usually looking for the best price. They:

  • are less directed and spend free time browsing their favorite e-commerce websites
  • are heavily influenced by shipping costs
  • often make impulse purchases (especially when there is free shipping available)
  • do not negotiate prices, but instead research the competition prior to making a purchase
  • are less brand loyal and more likely to buy from a competitor based on price alone
  • often choose guest checkout—access to order information after the order has shipped is less important

Where do they overlap? Both want:

  • high quality customer service
  • an easy-to-use and well designed online experience

So, when building a B2C-like experience to meet the demands of your B2B buyer, remember that in additional to beautiful images of your products you need comprehensive details about the product’s specifications, that your platform should simplify access to user information, and that your customer service contact information should be prominent. Don’t lose B2B buyers with an e-commerce experience that is too sparse for their needs.