How to Take Advantage of Connected Consumers (And Enable Connected Commerce)

Retailer Panel Discussion Remix

Welcome to our Keynote series, this time bringing you insights from an entire panel of experts:

Ashley Wahl Web, Ecommerce and Digital Manager at IKEA

Chris Hasek-Watt, Founder of Wearit

Alison Stiefel, Vice President of Marketing at ShopStyle

Peyman Zamani, CEO at Logicbroker

An important statistic to consider going in is that 55 percent of retailers are optimizing to make customer experience a priority. Customers today want to deal with brands who are able to deliver a personal service in a fast and efficient manner. And, thanks to the vast number of competitors springing up in almost every industry, customers are fickler than ever - today's brands need to demonstrate loyalty to their customers, not vice versa.

Connected Commerce

As with any study, it's important to define one's terms. Connected commerce means being everywhere the customer is. It means, if they are in a restaurant and they spot someone wearing an item of clothing they like, or a nice piece of furniture in a home or office, they want to be able to find out more information about it and maybe even make a purchase.

Think of the way an app like Shazam helps people find out what music they're listening to, connected commerce looks to achieve the same effect for retail products.

Connected commerce seeks to leverage the power of data and technology to connect people and engage with them across all channels. This might mean providing them with personalized product recommendations when they need to see them or connecting them with an influencer who fits their sense of style and can expand on those preferences. In short, customers want to feel they're interacting with humans who understand their wants and needs, and their ethics, rather than simply looking to make a sale.

Technology is helping in this regard. Customers can receive product updates through their room assistant devices if something they wanted was previously out of stock. 40 percent of searches today use voice, so expect to see more from this technology in the future. AI and specifically machine learning can increase relevant searches earlier in the sales funnel tailored to the customer's previous sales history, raising conversions by 15 percent.

Digital platforms let the customer save their favorite influencers, trends, and looks to create a personal preference profile. Machine learning search engine technology can then go to work creating further recommendations and even connect the customer to content such as blogs and YouTube channels. Customers can also complete purchases using their favorite social platforms - consider that one third of Instagram users have bought something directly through the platform - further breaking down barriers between engagement and business.

Final Thoughts

The connected customer has high expectations of the brands they do business with. The battle for retail superiority is not fought on price but rather on customer experience and those brands which are able to engage with their audiences in personal and meaningful ways are the ones which will continue to stand out in the swirling retail maelstrom.

For more insights, join us at eTail Boston, happening this August 10 - 13 at the Sheraton Boston! eTail is four days of action-packed stories, conversations, and connections with the top minds at America's most successful retailers. Download the agenda here for full details.

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