How Retailers Can Leverage Content to Compete Against Online Behemoths
Today’s “pampered consumers” have come to expect relevant and memorable experiences throughout the customer journey. However, now that the path to purchase winds through so many different channels, platforms and formats, marketers often feel overwhelmed at the prospect of meeting those expectations with the speed and quality required.
At the same time, e-commerce giants are expanding their stronghold over the market, encroaching upon customers and making it difficult for smaller retail brands to survive. In a recent study by Econsultancy, nearly 60 percent of organizations globally reported that their business model is under “significant” or “critical” pressure to adapt to changing market conditions. Interestingly, the survey results revealed that macro commerce platforms such as Amazon.com and Alibaba are simultaneously considered partners and direct competitors. Almost half (47 percent) of respondents said the top tier e-commerce players are a significant opportunity for growth, while about the same percentage (46 percent) said they're concerned about working with them.
What can retailers do to better manage these complex relationships and maintain their competitive advantage? My advice is to focus on content as a way to create a superior customer experience. More specifically, here are steps you can take to use your product, customer and market knowledge to create compelling moments and gain an advantage over the online behemoths:
- Get content out of channels and into a single repository. Take inventory of the content you already have on hand and determine where there are gaps. To be effective, your content needs not only to be up-to-date and relevant, but also accessible to those in charge of delivering it.
- Define the process of content creation. Prioritize the content that contributes most towards the strategic goals identified for the business. For example, if you’re focusing on a specific sector, create enough vertical content to get the results you want before moving on to another. In addition, look for tools that will help you improve the efficiency and productivity of your content production so that you can scale and meet the demand.
- Integrate with enterprise software and capture all available data. You need to consistently deliver the right content by channel, device, and format. In order to do that, you need to understand what content your customers respond to and how they're consuming it. Gather information from your existing software stack and touchpoints throughout the enterprise and aggregate it into a dedicated data repository.
- Structure and organize your content. For help, consider web content management, commerce, and digital experience solutions that create a unified platform. Then, use that platform to manage and deliver personalized content across any channel, at every stage of the customer journey.
- Define content ownership and governance. The goal is to be able to deliver relevant content at scale and on schedule across multiple personas and products. Content workflow, production and approvals need to be as seamless as possible.
These days, a content-focused model — rich in compelling customer experiences — is a retailer’s most important competitive differentiator. Once you start supporting consumers with personalized content and give them what they need to make informed purchase decisions, you’ll earn their trust and be on your way to building lasting, loyal relationships.
Vijayanta Gupta is global vice president of strategy and industries at Sitecore, an integrated .NET CMS platform and e-commerce solution.
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