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Agile Commerce: A New Focus on the Customer Journey
The successful adoption of agile commerce strategy will help brands not just survive but thrive in a rapidly evolving market, writes Fatima Said.
The days of individual channel optimisation are over. Multichannel strategies are being reborn. A new kid has hit the block, and switched-on companies are swiftly dodging all the antiquated methodologies inherent in “multi-” and “omni-” channel buzzwords. Agile Commerce is the fresh and new approach to commerce in 2014, and it’s a critical way of thinking that you can’t risk overlooking.
Undoubtedly customer sales and engagement channels are ever evolving; from brick and mortar stores, e-commerce stores, social media platforms, mobile as well as all the traditional media channels. For this reason, the focus needs to shift away from the “inside out” approach – companies looking at channels as individual silos, and instead look “outside in” by looking at the customer journey and the roles that each channel plays in the broader context to serve your customer. The reality is that customers are interacting with your brand across multiple channels in multiple ways. This realisation is at the core of the Agile Commerce methodology – Agile Commerce is about optimising the customer journey not just individual channels.
Let me give you a familiar example…
Faced with a plethora of data, a company will look at each channel they use to communicate with their customer and evaluate that channel’s performance by its ability to “close the sale”. The danger with this approach is that not all channels play the role of conversion in the context of a customer’s journey. Agile Commerce aims to provide businesses with agility around the customer, rather than the channel, at the right stage of their customer’s journey. For example, if we look at the mobile channel we see that it represents on average 17 percent traffic to a website, yet converts three times less than desktop visits – even for “mobile optimised” sites (BrightEdge, 2013).
The reality is, no matter how user friendly it may be, many customers simply won’t checkout and complete a purchase on their mobile. Research shows that PC’s are the preferred channel when making the actual purchase and while some people do buy on mobile, most use mobile to browse and research when on the go (Google, 2012). So as long as we are evaluating a channel by its ability to “close the sale”, this channel will always appear to under-perform.
“Customers expect any desired information or service to be available on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need.” (Forrester Research, 2013)
It has become clear that customers that interact with the brand across multiple touch points are six times more valuable than customers who only connect through a single channel customer (Gills, 2013). Businesses must examine all touch points that can be encountered by their customers. They must value the importance of the tangible and intangible benefits of each touch point’s role in the broader context of the customer’s journey, and allocate budget accordingly.
Implementing Agile Commerce
The transformation to Agile Commerce requires a commitment to an integrated business model as well as a deep and thorough understanding of your customer and how they interact with all of your touch points. It requires a commitment to move focus away from a channel-centric point of view to a holistic understanding of customer engagement across all touch points in an integrated manner. Organisations should steer away from traditional hierarchies and metrics that set up competition and rivalry between channels, but instead motivate and empower their employees to optimize the customer experience regardless of the channel.
A transition into Agile Commerce will not happen overnight. Innovation, strategy, implementation, momentum and success will be built over time. However, businesses that are successful in going from the “channel-centric” approach and adopt the Agile Commerce methodology will be better equipped and more adaptive to the constantly changing consumer trends and advances in technology. The Agile Commerce methodology is a long term strategic business approach, not just a fad. Successful adoption will help brands not just survive but thrive in a rapidly evolving market.