Do you remember the days of the straightforward, linear customer journey? 

Yeah, we don’t either.

Commerce channels are plentiful these days, and customers commonly bounce from channel to channel, offline and online, as they explore their options before they make a purchase. What started as discovery in-store could lead to an online order, or vice versa. But customers also expect to be able to engage with you seamlessly, no matter where they shop. 

To guide customers on their path to purchase, marketers need the ability to link customer data together with operational insights. Connecting commerce experiences across the complete spectrum (web, SMS, email, social, ads, etc.) enables you to create exceptional, engaging customer experiences along every non-linear step.

Here are just a few powerful examples of what you can do with connected commerce data to make the customer journey more satisfying and more personalized. Get ready to get inspired!

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What Is Connected Commerce? 

Connected commerce is the process of driving customer engagement with the goal of generating leads, sales, and/or revenue across both digital and physical channels. Where e-commerce focuses purely on digital, connected commerce marketing revolves around the non-linear customer journey, which frequently includes both online and in-store interactions. 

We talk frequently about data silos and how important it is to break them down to create a single customer view, but it’s just as important to break down channel siloes. 

In connected commerce marketing, brands use online and offline channels to support each other and facilitate that non-linear, omnichannel journey. It’s all about enabling customers to transact in the moment, using the channel that’s most convenient for them. 

How Does Connected Commerce Work?

So what, exactly, does it take to create connected shopping experiences that are not only seamless but also personalized for the individual, across both digital and in-store channels? 

The real core of connected commerce comes down to accomplishing three things. You need to:

  1. Identify your customers
  2. Collect purchase data
  3. Deliver personalized messages and offers 

That may seem simple at first glance, but you have to be able to do these things wherever your customers are — in-store, on your website, on your mobile app, on social media, anywhere. Fortunately, your customer engagement platform can take everything you know about your customers, analyze it, and create a unified view of the customer. With that full view, you can present them with personalized recommendations and offers.

To better understand what that looks like in practice, here are a few ideas to help you start envisioning more connected customer experiences:

  • Product quizzes: Make product discovery easy by offering quizzes that enable customers to better understand their own needs and your product offerings. Help in-store customers discover the digital assessments via your mobile app or by providing a QR code. 
  • Transparency: Display stock levels, shipping availability, and carbon footprint to educate customers and help them find the easiest, fastest path to purchase. They’ll appreciate being able to make informed decisions.
  • Convenient offers: Ensure available vouchers are pre-populated and available at digital checkout. If they don’t complete a purchase, you can automatically re-engage customers with abandoned cart campaigns.
  • Empowered employees: Give your in-store associates the training and clienteling tools they need to understand your customers and serve their needs. You can, for instance, enable your employees to create wish lists on the fly for out-of-stock items.
  • Online-offline flexibility: Enable in-store pickup for online orders. Similarly, enable customers to return online purchases in-store. (Our recent research revealed that 51% of US shoppers desire more sustainable retail returns and 55% are more loyal to brands that have sustainable return policies.)

3 Strategies for Crafting Connected Commerce Experiences

General ideas for connected commerce are great, but real-life examples are even better! Take a look at what these three innovative brands are doing to take connected commerce from dream to reality. They’re making the customer’s path to purchase faster, smoother, and more rewarding.

1. City Beach — Mobile Commerce Mastery

Consumers have commerce literally in the palms of their hands, on their mobile phones, and innovative retailers are actively finding ways to engage them.

When we offered a pilot program for our mobile wallet feature (which has since been released), City Beach jumped at the chance to test it and innovate the way they connect with customers. By enabling commerce transactions through customers’ mobile wallets, City Beach was able to better identify customers when they made in-store purchases and gather more valuable data. This data is key to building a complete view of the customer, and it enables City Beach to further tailor their experiences.

During our Power to the Marketer Festival, we heard a little bit about how City Beach is driving customers to their loyalty program. Here’s what James Neill, Customer Lifecycle Manager at City Beach, had to say: 

City Beach set a goal to increase their loyalty program membership, and as James described, they used connected commerce tactics to help support that goal and drive conversions. According to James, “We set the benchmark of about a 20% increase in getting existing customers across onto the loyalty program. Well, we’re 11 months [and] we’re at 40% of our total database.”

2. Salling Group — Connected Commerce from Back End to Front End

Salling Group grocery stores in three countries and serves over 10 million customers each week. They had a wealth of customer data already on hand, but they needed a customer engagement platform in place to execute that data. Their objective? They wanted the right product, the right price, the right time, and the right channel, for every single customer. 

They turned to SAP Emarsys, and with it, Salling Group was able to engage customers in numerous ways, including but not limited to:

  • They fully automated their email campaigns and began providing automated product recommendations both online and in email.
  • Using Web Channel, they began delivering tailored web experiences to customers. 
  • With Send Time Optimization, emails arrive at optimal times when customers are more likely to engage. 

One of the challenges in providing such highly personalized marketing is ensuring that customers see consistent pricing across channels. It’s a poor commerce experience to see one price in an email and then find a different one on the website when you go to add it to your shopping cart. Salling Group, however, had the perfect solution for that, as described by Jens Pytlich:

Watch the full presentation on how Salling Group began delivering truly personalized, 1:1 omnichannel experiences to their customers.

3. Gibson Brands — Those Great Omni-Commerce Vibes

Gibson Brands, based in the US, is best known for their guitars, but they also produce instruments, audio equipment, and more. 

This iconic brand serves their customers through a number of different channels:

  • Partner retailers
  • Website
  • App
  • The Gibson Garage, their own retail location in Tennessee 

Gibson strives to understand their customers (or as Gibson refers to them, their fans), including who they are, what they want to accomplish, and where they’re at in their customer journey. Fans range from long-time collectors to new musicians just getting started, and everything in between.

Because Gibson fans can engage in so many different ways and via even more channels (email, social media, etc.), that comes with both challenges and opportunities. The challenge is creating a 360-degree view of the customer, no matter where or how they’re engaging, and the opportunity is the ability to create a seamless customer journey that’s unrivaled by the competition.

According to Josh Ehren, “If we can get our consumers to actually interact with us as a brand in multiple ways, and […] whether that’s getting you from only our website or only our partners website or only our partner store, etc., if we can get you to interact with us in any other way, we know you’re a more valuable customer to us.”

Gibson uses the Emarsys customer engagement platform to: 

  • Integrate data from in-store visits
  • Automate direct-to-consumer content to engage different types of fans with the right types of content
  • Offer strategic mobile wallet vouchers to encourage conversions
  • Connect digital and in-person experiences and create a holistic view of their fans with a Unified Customer profile
  • And more

In this brief clip, Jonathan Martz, CRM Manager for Gibson, describes how they’re engaging fans with highly personalized experiences:

If you’re feeling amped up about this story, you can learn more about how Gibson engages with their fans across channels by exploring this interactive value journey.

Get Connected with the 7 Pillars of Omnichannel Personalization 

Connected commerce is all about reaching your customers and keeping them engaged, no matter where they are. Yet it’s also just one of the foundational pillars described in the 7 Pillars of Omnichannel Personalization. Get to know each of the pillars and discover new and innovative ways to drive your business forward.

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