How does your omnichannel strategy stack up against today’s customer expectations? Esther Fesenmeier, CEO at Spark Reply shares her insights and tips on extending your omnichannel commerce capabilities with composable tools.
Digital natives expect omnichannel experiences
Twenty years ago, no one was walking through a city shopping on their mobile device or banking on the train during their commute. Now we have digital natives, people who grew up with mobile devices and all these different digital channels, as well as people who adopted a digital-first approach during the pandemic. It’s a different world out there and companies have to build experiences that suit this new audience.
“Consistency across channels is no longer a pleasant surprise. It’s expected, and when it’s missing, customers are unhappy. “
Omnichannel commerce is not optional anymore. It's mandatory. No one wants to fill out a form when they switch from a mobile app to a webpage. People expect to continue the same experience, the same conversation in real-time when they move from mobile apps to websites, to in-store, or even call customer support. To deliver that seamless experience, you need an omnichannel commerce strategy and the technology to support it.
What is omnichannel commerce?
Omnichannel commerce is a completely integrated solution that delivers seamless customer experiences. An omnichannel strategy supported with the right technology allows you to connect and personalize touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Even when people engage on different channels, they feel like they're talking to the same company, getting the same responses in the same brand voice.
How omnichannel ecommerce is different from multichannel marketing
Multichannel marketing is just using multiple channels. You might have a website, social media, and mobile apps, but they aren’t connected. You can’t easily personalize messaging across touchpoints.
An omnichannel approach completely integrates all the channels in your marketing mix. This integration, and the seamless user experiences it delivers, differentiate omnichannel marketing from multichannel commerce.
Personalized experiences are more challenging in an omnichannel world
Personalized experiences aren’t new, but they’ve come a long way. When I first started in ecommerce, offering a special on umbrellas on a rainy day in London was an impressive level of personalization. Now we can see if they’re actually in London and ping their mobile app with a special on umbrellas. Then we can send an email recommending boots and coats that match their in-store purchase.
To deliver personalized omnichannel shopping experiences, companies need to integrate data from different systems. You want to see if a customer is actually in London that day, what their recent purchases are, and which sales channels they respond to best. The data from different channels must be integrated and available to all teams to deliver consistent personalization.
Putting customer experiences in context
In omnichannel marketing, content is personalized to the customer and contextualized to where the customer is in that moment. You need to picture people sitting in their living room, eating lunch at their desk, or walking through the city.
It’s crucial to understand the context of your customers’ experiences and match content to that experience. Someone walking down the street with their phone might complete a quick task, like reordering a product, but they aren’t going to read a lot of information. On the other hand, if they open an email at their desk they might have time to research new products. Then you have voice searches. No one wants to listen to Alexa read a long product description.
Composable technology empowers you to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences, faster
With composable tools, companies can build systems that integrate data from different channels and enable them to deliver personalized experiences, tailored to each digital channel. You just have to pick the right tools.
Traditional ecommerce systems are powerful, but rigid
When companies rely on the tools that come with traditional monolithic systems, they limit themselves to what the system can do. With a composable approach, you can choose specialized tools that expand your capabilities so you can meet customer needs and build omnichannel experiences in a way that suits your business.
Ecommerce architectures are traditionally big systems built to manage critical data and complex business needs. They’re powerful and stable, but they aren’t very flexible. In some ways, they have everything: personalization, content management, search, etc. But these features are pretty standard and not specialized. They limit what teams can do without time-consuming workarounds.
It’s like buying the base model of a car. It works reliably, but it’s not going to turn heads or win the Grand Prix. If you want to go fast, you add specialized components — a bigger engine, better tires, and dual exhaust. In the case of ecommerce, going farther and faster means extending your architecture with composable solutions.
Optimize your system with composable elements that add speed and flexibility
The beauty of a composable approach is that you don’t need to replace the entire system. A lot of functions that commerce systems manage — pricing, product information, logistics, payment, and risk management — aren’t directly tied to delivering customer experiences. Composable tools let you optimize your system to gain speed and flexibility where you need it.
Think about your business needs. What would enable your marketing and business teams to work faster? How can you make workflows more convenient and less reliant on technical teams? What are the customer experiences and customer journeys you want to deliver? Where do you need more flexibility to deliver great omnichannel experiences?
If you look at the MACH Alliance, you’ll find a bunch of very interesting technologies that can extend your capabilities. Content, personalization, and search technologies are a good starting point. These are areas where companies need flexibility to deliver great customer experiences.
Composable technology can also connect data across systems. Instead of limiting data use to a single channel, teams can map and combine customer data from different channels to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences.
Extending your commerce system with composable tools helps you to adapt to market needs quickly. You still have a powerful system that can handle huge amounts of product data, but the composable components empower teams to work in fast, flexible ways. Teams spend less time working around technical limitations and more time launching campaigns, creating new products, and weaving experiences together across channels.
Implement an omnichannel commerce strategy with composable tools
Customers expect unified, seamless experiences across all channels. To deliver these omnichannel shopping experiences, businesses need to go beyond the capabilities of traditional commerce systems. Extending these systems with composable tools, like Contentful’s very own Composable Content Platform, enables companies to start building omnichannel experiences faster.