To be able to own the customer experience, the key is to deliver consistent and personalised brand experiences across all physical and digital channels – including online commerce.
For customer experience management platforms such as Sitecore and Episerver, this has long been a missing piece of the puzzle. Both platforms began as humble content management systems (globally recognised leaders in the CMS marketplace in fact) before evolving to make their mark in the Customer Experience Management space.
Both vendors now recognise the importance of a commerce offering to deliver that all-important end-to-end customer experience management solution – and in doing so, have become market leaders in this space also.
Many mature enterprise e-commerce players, such as Hybris and Demandware, have built their platforms to support large online and offline retailers, managing and delivering vast amounts of product information. However, on the flip side to the challenges Sitecore and Episerver face, the content management experiences with these vendors has proved to be their Achilles Heel.
This is largely due to deploying the Customer Experience Management platform on the front-end to deliver the content and the e-commerce platform in the back-end to power the shop. Unfortunately, the set-up doesn’t allow for integration – separate platforms need managing separately, they don’t ‘talk’ to each other due to their silo nature and they’ll upgrade at different times, slowing progress, making for an even less compatible outcome and missing that vital single-customer-view.
And when it comes to trying to bake in deep integration with the customer experience tools; like profiling, personalisation, optimisation and automation for example, well then you’re into a whole new ball game – with possible disjoints in the customer experience. To be fair, however, Sitecore has bridged this gap well in recent years through its Commerce Connect layer, and pre-built deep integrations with existing e-commerce providers like uCommerce.
The best-of-need approach adopted by vendors like Sitecore provides that all-encompassing single-customer-view through a unified and integrated technology platform. It offers many benefits; not least the ability to seamlessly and effortlessly deploy, operate, support, maintain and upgrade; thus reducing total cost of ownership and increasing effectiveness of product knowledge and intellectual property.
It's this ultimate controllability of the end-to-end content and commerce experience that provides the basis for true omni-channel personalisation – bringing together both transactional and behavioural customer data to further hone personalised messaging through multi-channel platforms.
For example, a customer visits a pub and enters their date of birth into the Wi-Fi registration form. That data becomes much more powerful when integrated with data from the pub’s online shop; enabling the positioning of relevant products before the customer’s birthday and increasing the connection with that customer and their likelihood to purchase. The messaging on the website could also be personalised based on that same view on the data.
Easy to see then that a positive end-to-end experience that literally enables you to give the customer what they need or want before they’ve even ‘clicked’ for it, can increase customer loyalty and value per customer – and in turn, positively impact revenue as well as delivering a significant ROI.
Sitecore and Episerver are building commerce capabilities into their platform because it makes sense to do so – indeed, agencies like ourselves are aligning with this strategy. Building on the back of content-led-commerce experiences or b-commerce (branded commerce) websites produced for Robinsons Brewery, we feel that we are well-placed to capitalise on this market opportunity.
If you have a customer experience directive which requires commerce thinking, or if you have Sitecore or Episerver and are looking to build a commerce capability into your brand offering – we’d love to hear from you. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn for future customer experience and commerce updates.