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Mission accomplished: the three pillars of mission-driven commerce

Posted: 10 November 2017 | By Craig Smith

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

Every customer has a mission. Few shoppers will arrive at a retailer’s landing page by accident, and most will have a strong idea of what they want to purchase once they arrive. Understanding and helping the customer to achieve this mission is what retailers should do best.

To be successful you not only have to know who the customer is, you need to know their mission – what they want – and be able to help them achieve it

However, customers are still bombarded with irrelevant products, offers and content on websites that take no account of their age, gender or purchasing history. This approach will no longer cut it in such a competitive digital landscape. It’s no longer enough for retailers to simply be consumer-driven. They must be driven by the mission of every customer.

Personalisation is hardly a new concept for retailers, but mission-driven commerce goes a stage further. To be successful you not only have to know who the customer is, you need to know their mission – what they want – and be able to help them achieve it. Not only that, but the retailer has to do it fast. Today’s always-online customer has an ocean of content to explore and if you can’t satisfy them quickly you’ll lose their attention as well as their business.

To achieve mission-driven commerce, retailers require a high-tech approach to customer interaction. The best results will come with a blended approach of the following: customer analytics, a rigorous content management system, and artificial intelligence (AI). Together, these three pillars provide the insight, capabilities, and speed needed for the ideal customer experience.

Customer Analytics

There can be no shortcuts. It is has become commonplace for brands to collect customer data through email forms, sign-ups, and page tracking. This is the integral first step to personalisation. Through data collection, brands get to know their shoppers on a more intimate level. They can learn their age, gender, what they typically buy and what their next customer mission will be.

Many brands already possess a wealth of information on their customers – where they fall short is how they communicate this to consumers through the content they offer

However, a retailer who knows their customer well through a database of personal information may still fail to deliver them the most appropriate content.

With all this extra data also comes a great number of new customer segments and variations, each requiring its own creative and targeted communications. Many brands already possess a wealth of information on their customers – where they fall short is how they communicate this to consumers through the content they offer.

Content Management System

A powerful, flexible content management system (CMS) is the next step. Most CMSs are geared towards producing ‘baked content’, which is pre-made content that is ready to be delivered to the customer, but is created for a finite number of situations and customer groups and, as a result, is difficult to adapt for individuals.

The benefit of a flexible CMS is that it can take individual assets and categorise them into smaller data-descriptive chunks, making it easier to create more targeted, personalised content.

Artificial Intelligence

Online retailers must ensure that both their customer analytics and CMS are top-notch, but they should also seriously consider what AI can do to bring the customer experience to life.

Put simply, the key benefit of AI is saved time and effort. It would be impossible for a retailer to create every variation of content needed with a standard CMS without a substantial time investment. AI, however, does the heavy lifting. It can pull together pre-existing assets based on what is known about the customer, their preferences and habits, to create and deliver the most relevant information that guides them to the right page and product.

Above all, it ensures the process is fast and seamless for the customer, mimicking the in-store style experience they have come to expect when they shop online.

Serving content that is designed for individuals, not generic content for the intangible ‘customer’, should be the priority of all retailers, and this is attainable through the use of these three pillars.

When a customer arrives at your landing page, that is the perfect opportunity to close the customer’s journey and help them complete their mission. You must not fail them!

Craig Smith is VP of customer success at Amplience, a retail engagement platform.

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