How Businesses Can Cultivate and Develop an E-Commerce Ecosystem by Understanding Customer Behavior
Brand consistency is fundamental to sustaining a successful and dynamic e-commerce ecosystem. However, its true meaning, in practice, is often forgotten. It means much more than the consistency of appearance across all channels, but the consistency of messaging, interaction and seamless interlinking from one customer touchpoint to the next. This consistency is essential in fostering a customer-centric omnichannel experience.
Customer behavior is difficult to predict, but we know that today's consumers enjoy having options to choose from. Browsing in one channel, conducting further product research elsewhere, and making a final purchase in another is common, in a nonlinear customer journey. It's now the responsibility of all brands to facilitate this process for their prospective customers. This means ensuring that shoppers can navigate a brand’s sales channels as seamlessly as possible and creating harmony between them. This cohesive experience is fundamental to the advantage of adopting an omnichannel strategy that doesn't prioritize one single channel over another, but utilizes each to interconnect and complement one another. This demonstrates the best understanding of customers’ needs and embraces the unpredictability of their purchase journeys.
It's also crucial to keep in mind the particular trends of this moment. With so many retail stores struggling through the challenges of the last two years, there has been a greater shift towards supporting brick-and-mortar stores in their post-lockdown recovery. Because of this, many customers browse online, but want to know where they can make their purchase locally and physically. Where to Buy and omnichannel commerce solutions are critical for offering customers these insights and guiding them directly to a retailer that suits their needs and wants. For some, this might mean identifying a physical store where they can see and feel the product in real life. Many customers like to see, touch and feel a product they’ve seen online before making their purchase in-store, which is why just under 60 percent of shoppers preferring to go in-store opt to do so.
Consumer trust is low today, especially when it comes to younger consumers such as Gen Z shoppers, who are increasingly less trusting of big companies than baby boomers. To gain their loyalty, it's important for brands to make their preferred way of shopping as convenient as possible. This could mean embracing innovation such as social commerce tools that can transform the brand’s ability to allow customers to make a purchase from within Instagram or Facebook, but this also applies to retailers themselves.
It could also mean embracing engagement through shoppable reviews, empowering customers to make purchases directly from a brand’s online reviews. Given that research shows a brand engaging with even negative reviews can boost customer loyalty, cultivating a lively online reviews section is reaping increased benefits for all brands. Since over 90 percent of shoppers check reviews before making an online purchase, the value of making your reviews shoppable can’t be underestimated.
To retain the customer through their buying cycle, brands must maintain a focus across all channels. For the more digitally mature companies, this means investing in the right solutions, whether it’s Where to Buy shoppable reviews or social commerce. For those earlier in their maturity stage, cultivating a full omnichannel customer experience might be a more gradual process, but with customer centricity maintained as a core priority, brands will begin to reap its benefits.
Related story: How to Maximize the Value of Customer Reviews to Boost Sales
Joris Kroese is the CEO and founder of Hatch, a leading global omnichannel commerce solutions provider that offers seamless "Where-to-Buy" solutions for the world's biggest consumer brands.