The digital economy has flattened our world—and it’s only going to continue getting flatter.
Today, I can access any website in the world from any location. But I can’t necessarily buy anything from anywhere yet. This is going to change though, as the borders on the internet inevitably come down. With this borderless digital economy come several challenges that put pressure on organizations’ eCommerce platforms and processes.
The challenge of a borderless economy
For customers, the shift to a flat, digital economy is a great opportunity. For example, as a big fan of the series “Mr. Robot”, I have to wait until they allow it to download in Europe, where in the US I could already purchase the series via the US iTunes store. As a consumer, I want to have equal access at the same time my US friends will have access. That’s the new demand consumer will have and companies need to live up to! For businesses though, this borderless economy is going to introduce increasing pressures.
With no borders on the internet, there’s nothing stopping consumers from finding and ordering the products and services they want. The only way companies will be able to retain their business and continue charging a premium price is by providing an experience their customers value and are supreme to their competitors. The only alternative is to compete on price alone. And then it’s a race to the bottom – the company with the lowest price is always going to win.
What a great experience looks like
To deliver the very best customer experiences, you have to understand how your customers interact with your brand, products and services. You can see retailers responding to this need for data by developing and selling connected products that gather more data on consumer movements, habits and activities.
Only by collecting customer data and analyzing it, can you truly get the customer journey, and tailor it to what your customers want.
But to get this data, you need to have trust and credibility as a brand. Without this level of trust, consumers will absolutely refuse to hand over their data, and you won’t have the insights you need to understand the customer journey and deliver a winning experience.
A great example here is Nike with its connected shoes. By leveraging technology built into the shoes which connects to the internet, users gain more data about their sporting activities, and experience great service. The user experience here is so seamless that customers forget that Nike is also collecting this data, and using it to market its products more effectively and provide personalized offers.
More and more we see that these experiences are not only required in the Business to Consumer market (B2C), increasingly we see the same demand in the Business to Business (B2B) interactions.
Great experiences don’t come easy
You know you need great data, and great experiences to compete in a client-centric world. But how do you actually deliver these brand-defining experiences?
If it was easy to do, every company would do it. There are three main challenges that stop businesses from delivering premium customer experiences consistently:
Challenge #1: Silos
Data is the key to great experiences, and silos are the enemy of data. With the businesses I engage with, silos are almost always the first thing I try to address.
Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments all interact with customers in different ways. If your organization isn’t set up to help these teams talk to each other and share valuable insights, then you’re missing out on the complete picture—and not delivering the great customer experiences you could be. The customer doesn’t distinguish between different departments, so neither should you.
Breaking down these cultural (and sometimes physical) silos requires a lot of rework. But starting to create a culture of collaboration can often be as simple as moving people around. In his fantastic book ‘Social Physics’, Alex Pentland found that moving the customer service team from the corner of an office to the center helped one business improve the flow of ideas, breaking down silos and increasing revenue significantly.
Challenge #2: Personalization
Most great customer experiences come from a personal touch. No one wants to feel like a number, so even a small element of personalization can go a long way to improving the retail experience, and putting the customer first.
But you can’t personalize if you don’t know anything about your customers. You need to have the systems and processes in place to collect customer data, and to actually use it in a meaningful way. The only way to understand your customers, and get the benefits from this insight is to have consistent data ingested and blended throughout your organization.
Challenge #3: Systems and IT
The challenges of eCommerce are very much based on business processes and culture. There is also an IT element to this story. Your efforts to overcome the first two challenges can be helped or hindered based on the quality of your systems.
If you have consistent platforms that help different departments collaborate, and collect and share data, then the first two challenges can be much easier to overcome. If you have disjointed systems that get in the way of collaboration and data gathering, the hill quickly gets a lot steeper.
It’s one of the reasons why Capgemini leverages partner platforms and technology such as SAP’s Hybris eCommerce platform. SAP’s focus on integration allows you to spend less time worrying about whether your eCommerce, Sales, Marketing, Service and CRM platforms are working together, and refocus your efforts on the business elements that power great customer journeys.
Overcoming the eCommerce challenges
For all of these challenges, it’s important to go back to asking ‘Why?’ ‘What is this brand promise we deliver to our customers?’ Many of us are guilty of forgetting about this essential purpose as we keep busy with our daily business activities, so it’s important to refocus on it.
From there, you need to consider how the customer goes through a journey with your brand. How are they engaging with you? And how can you continue to deliver your brand promise across all touch points?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you then have the cultural foundations you need to start exploring your systems and process, and making the necessary changes to break down silos and improve the way you collect and analyze data. Just make sure you keep the customers’ needs in mind as you embark on your journey of transformation.
What if you need more help?
I’ve mentioned a variety of large undertakings here, from physically shifting your business, to completely reinventing critical IT systems and even your business culture and processes. None of these are simple tasks, so you’ll probably need some guidance in your transformation journey.
If you’re looking for a partner to help you deliver the very best eCommerce platforms and customer experiences, you want to make sure they have experience with this kind of widespread business transformation. Not just across eCommerce, but across all the business units mentioned earlier in this post.
Likewise, your partner of choice needs to be able to suggest relevant IT platforms and solutions that also share this spirit of collaboration: systems that can easily integrate with your CRM, Sales, Service and Marketing platforms to help you integrate the data you need and deliver a seamless customer journey.
Here at Capgemini, I’ve helped a variety of organizations transform their approach to data and silos to take their customer experiences and eCommerce to the next level.
If you’re currently experiencing challenges with your eCommerce, or are looking for new ways to improve the customer experience in your business, make sure you start a discussion with Capgemini to start your journey of digital transformation. We have a proven track-record in helping businesses integrate eCommerce, CRM, Sales, Service and Marketing—both on the system and cultural levels—Capgemini is the ideal partner for organizations looking to improve their eCommerce experiences.
Do you want to achieve superior experiences for your customers, let’s discuss and share experiences. Contact me via https://www.capgemini.com/experts/sap-mobility-technovision-insights-data/frank-wammes
This article was written by Frank Wammes from Capgemini: CTO Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.