The problem with today’s ecommerce architectures is they’re fragmented and disconnected. When planning for future growth, there are many important components in plugging gaps in the customer experience so they remain consistent, with an infinite number of journeys. And you want to go beyond the expected to delight, providing a unique encounter they’ll remember.
Creating connected customer experiences that are personalized across all channels takes time, but doing it right is critical, and there are some key pieces to that puzzle. What are they?
Provide Consistent Product Information
Product information is everywhere (social, email, etc.). It’s the bedrock for ecommerce and needs to support consistent experiences across channels. Poor execution leads to low conversion or more returns. The key is to build a single source of truth for product information that includes elements to support product elevation, brand experience and purchase information.
Support Search and Navigation
Search is often something businesses overlook or leave as last priority. But once you’ve got your strategy and product information in place, getting search right not only helps provide frictionless customer experiences but is also proven to increase revenue.
Search has traditionally focused on product discovery. Customers take to Google or Amazon to search for a solution like “skincare products good for combination skin,” but go to a website to search for a specific product. Why? Because site search has never returned the results to support this, creating a pattern for customers.
With retailers and brands now creating amazing digital content like blogs, social posts, videos and support questions, you’re losing out on the potential for continued engagement and discovery if you just focused on the product when it comes to search.
Bridge the Gap with Experience Management
Managing and creating for all different touchpoints can be tricky. You need to be able to pull everything together, so your teams have a centralized way to deliver experiences, ideally without a lot of coding. It’s more flexible and more efficient.
A digital experience platform provides a low- or no-code tool bringing together all your data and assets like product information, imagery, etc., enabling users to integrate it all into workflows. You can control the experience and content across all channels and manage everything across all locales and languages. Also, certain platforms allow you to break down your content into smaller components so you can preview, schedule and publish by component, not just by page. This type of content modeling makes it much easier to reuse content across channels and areas of your ecommerce site, creating internal efficiencies and less duplication of work for your teams.
One way to help your business achieve this and create the foundation for those connected customer experiences is by adopting a MACH (Microservices, API first, Cloud native, Headless) approach. Moving to MACH takes some time, but it allows you to take an iterative approach so you can do it in smaller, manageable chunks.
Following are some considerations to help you along the way:
Assess the current situation: Work out just how tangled your current setup is. The tangled web is likely caused by silos, often with each team swimming in different directions even though they’re trying to achieve the same thing. If you have an enterprise business, this can seem overwhelming. Start with a single project or experience; e.g., “implementing a native app” or “in-store kiosk” and determine which pieces of your legacy system need to support this new feature as a bite-sized approach to MACH.
Work out what you want to achieve: Don’t focus on features and technology but instead products and capabilities that will add value for your customers and internal business teams. This one is hard to get the business behind. Instead of designing around a requirement like “the in-store kiosk needs to allow users to search,” shift the focus to “a customer should be able to search across any brand channel and the results should be contextual to the term they’re searching for.”
Align the entire business behind your goals: This requires not just a technological shift but also an organizational one. Think about not only the customer experience but the internal experience to gain internal buy-in. For instance, the retail team should be able to create collections and category pages for the mobile kiosk with the same tool that drives categories and content for the web and mobile app.
Identify the low-hanging fruit to tackle first: What is going to make the biggest impact but for low investment or low risk? This can take shape as a full project, like an in-store kiosk, or a small iterative change to your existing stack that might improve performance or conversion.
Iteration is key: Take it bit by bit. You may even keep some systems that are hard to move until later on. When planning a MACH project, start small to avoid internal objections and increased risk. Using the examples above can help shape a business case that is easy to sell into the organization. Focus on mitigating risk, while increasing iterative value.
Having the framework for building a MACH architecture is the foundation for scale. And it helps to create the desired, or, rather, required, connected customer experiences for both today and tomorrow.
James Brooke is Founder and CEO of Amplience