How Retailers Can Leverage PIMs to Improve E-Commerce Customer Experience
As Americans hunkered down as a result of stay-at-home orders, they flocked to their screens to shop for groceries, home office supplies, nonessential goods, holiday gifts and more. With this, online retail sales grew 32.4 percent in 2020, a total of $791.7 billion in sales over the course of the year. This momentum continued into the new calendar year as well, with consumer spending topping a record-setting $121 billion in online purchases in the first two months of 2021. Today, experts predict U.S. e-commerce will deliver its first trillion-dollar year in 2022, making it clear that cyber shopping is here to stay.
While the pandemic boosted e-commerce growth, the shift from brick-and-mortar to click-and-mortar store operations presents new challenges for retailers — the biggest of which may be satisfying customers. Despite spending more than ever before, only a mere 15 percent of consumers were happy with their online shopping experiences in 2020.
In an industry where the key to long-term success is customer loyalty, brands must improve e-commerce customer experiences (CX) to be successful in the new, digital-first era of retail. More than ever before, shoppers value personalization, so much so that 84 percent say they will spend more with brands providing personalized customer service. Businesses hoping to gain a competitive advantage must deliver a personally tailored and compelling online shopping experience to each customer.
One way that retailers can improve CX is with a product information management (PIM) solution that includes multi-domain master data management (MDM). If you find yourself scratching your head as to what multi-domain MDM is, don't fret. At a high-level, multi-domain MDM is used to manage, centralize, organize, categorize, localize, synchronize and enrich master data across multiple domains, including products, customers, stores/locations, employees, suppliers, digital assets and more. Together PIM and multi-domain MDM can support a retailer in delivering a better and more consistent customer experience across all channels.
Connecting the Dots Between PIM, Multi-Domain MDM and Tailored CX
Retailers require the ability to provide a tailored CX across multiple physical and digital properties (e.g., a store’s website, brick and mortar, app, social media, third-party sellers, marketplaces, etc.). Retailers can utilize most basic PIM solutions to create rich and consistent product experiences; however, when a retailer leverages a PIM solution that also includes multi-domain MDM, they are able to transform their product data into a competitive advantage for not only e-commerce CX, but CX across all selling channels. A PIM solution with multi-domain MDM links data across domains, enabling retailers to relate their products to other data entities, such as customer or location, and tailor product information and assortments in the context of the customer, location and channel.
Looking at product information in the context of customer and location data can help retailers to improve their decisions and offers based on the context of who and where their customers are. For example, an athletic apparel retailer can ensure that when a customer from the Northeast visits their website in the winter, they are shown workout attire appropriate for colder climates. If a customer located in the Southwest visits the retailer’s site on the same day, they are advertised apparel suitable for a warmer climate. Delivering content in context is critical to creating long-term customer loyalty.
Providing a Compelling Digital Shopping Experience
Not only is tailoring CX critical, but with the rise of e-commerce, it's more important than ever for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors to engage customers on a deeper level. We’ve found there are “three C’s” that are crucial for retailers to factor into their digital commerce equation, which will help to set them apart from their peers who are missing the mark here:
- Converge in-person and online experiences to provide customers with a consistent shopping experience whether they're online or offline.
- Connect customers to the most relevant products based on their location, persona and/or purchase history.
- Compel customers to purchase by immediately matching products to an individual’s interests and needs.
PIM solutions that include multi-domain MDM make the three C’s possible so retailers can deliver a rich buying experience that creates experiential moments with the use of images, videos, expanded content, etc. For example, a furniture retailer may use PIMs that include multi-domain MDM to add information on its product pages that help customers determine if a piece of furniture will fit through a door opening or around a corner before it gets delivered. The use of virtual reality by furniture retailers is also enabled by PIMs that include multi-domain MDM, as the combined data feeds the capabilities that allow customers to view items virtually in their space before purchasing, ultimately reducing returns and improving customer satisfaction. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how retailers and their customers can benefit.
By leveraging PIMs that include multi-domain MDM, retailers can deliver contextual, personalized, and compelling digital content to each customer to vastly improve their online shopping experience and set their offerings apart from those of competitors. Whether it be offering more relevant promotions, tailoring how product information is displayed, or creating experiential moments online, service like this builds loyalty for the long-term and helps retailers prepare to compete in next year’s trillion-dollar e-commerce industry.
Kerry Young is the vice president and general manager, EnterWorks at Winshuttle, a company that provides master data management and process automation software for enterprise organizations.