The pandemic has changed customer behavior in many ways. Changes that we thought would take years to happen, are now taking place in just a few months. 

The latest EY Future Consumer Index study shows that 26% of customers now plan to live in less densely populated areas, an increase from 22% in 2020. This means that they no longer have to live in close proximity to their favorite retail store to make that purchase. The most powerful tool they need now is a good, stable internet connection. 

We have also seen eCommerce strategies change from being a top priority on every retail outlet’s long-term plan to now having become an essential lifeline to survive the pandemic. There’s another powerful, novel approach aligning with eCommerce that has been adopted in sales. 

Chinese retail giant Alibaba once linked up an online livestream broadcast with an eCommerce store as an experiment. This allowed viewers to look for products and shop for the ones they liked at the same time. The success of this live commerce experiment meant that it quickly became a regular fixture in the retail firm’s future sales campaigns.

In China, live commerce has established itself as a major sales channel in the retail industry in just a few years. This strategy could well be replicated across the globe.

While we don’t know exactly how live commerce will develop in the years to come, one thing is for sure. It holds great long-term potential for brands and eCommerce platforms. An analysis done by McKinsey indicates that live commerce sales could well account for 10 to 20 percent of eCommerce by the year 2026.

It’s clear that for retailers, the pandemic has only accelerated their existing efforts to innovate. What are the important factors you, as a business owner, need to keep in mind for a successful eCommerce strategy? Read on to know about some of them:

The importance of customer experience

To be successful in eCommerce, businesses have to think beyond just the deployment of eCommerce. They need to evaluate what kind of customer experience they are looking to offer. Customer experience has been steadily evolving from one built on the transactional shopping process to one focused on understanding and enriching customer relationships. 

As a retailer, it’s essential to create a journey that’s relevant to your customer. Your eCommerce solutions should also provide greater value to facilitate that journey. Make no mistake, the desire for social interaction could well drive people back to retail stores after the pandemic. 

However, several studies have indicated that 38% of customers plan to shop more online and only visit those stores which provide great customer experience. 

Live commerce can become a key and strong pillar of eCommerce in future. Retailers can enhance the customer experience in live commerce by:

  • Experimenting with a regular schedule of live events using varying products, formats and different target audiences
  • Integrating live streaming into its own website or eCommerce experience to ensure complete ownership over the customer
  • Tracking live stream performances through real-time predictive analytics to derive greater insights into audiences, content, products and formats
  • Using a dedicated in-house team to plan and develop content for livestreams. This includes the storylines, scripts, hosts and/or influencers
  • Having a full-time team to manage the live-commerce channel
  • Setting up automated performance-marketing campaigns to drive the target traffic to relevant streams

 Retailers and businesses can use live commerce to enhance customer experience, all through the customer journey.

How eCommerce fits in

So how exactly does eCommerce fit into the customer’s buying journey? Here are some points that customers look at from the technology standpoint:

  • An agile, adaptive technology platform that understands different customers–  Your eCommerce platform must be able to employ agile and innovative tactics which will help you better understand and anticipate customer behavior.
  • An integrated organizational structure– Your eCommerce platform can’t afford to work in a silo. It should be integrated tightly to ensure that eCommerce, merchandising, supply chain, store operations and marketing all work together seamlessly.
  • A seamless omnichannel experience- According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 73 percent of all customers use multiple channels to make their purchases. All these channels need to be tightly integrated with each other, to give the customer a seamless experience across all platforms. We are no longer looking at a physical or digital world, but a completely connected one. Having omnichannel capabilities ensure that you remain connected to your customer across channels.
  • A uniform customer experience all through- The customer must have the same experience, right from the time he/she places an order to the time the order is delivered at their doorstep. If your eCommerce platform cannot maintain these standards, the chances of the customer shifting his/her loyalties are high. 

Here’s how retailers can use live commerce to improve customer engagement:

  • Use influencers with a few thousand followers to get a more trusted connection with consumers at a lower cost. A recent survey indicates that the engagement rate for nano influencers on Instagram is actually ten times higher than those with a million followers.
  • Expanding into new sectors as live commerce expands its reach. For instance, leading tech companies can use their live streaming platform to provide the latest retail products and services. 
  • Use innovative formats such as Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to make the shopping experience more immersive. This will allow buyers to view their product from every angle. In the future, consumers can even have virtual face-to-face conversations with a show host, just like they were having a conversation with a store manager.
In Conclusion

The popularity of live commerce has only gone on to show that success in eCommerce will depend on going down to the last mile in future. Research says that only one in five customers forgive retailers and brands for service disruptions due to COVID-19. This applies to even the most advanced eCommerce capabilities. As services scale, retailers must find a way to ensure that customer experience doesn’t falter. Ready to embrace the future of eCommerce? Explore SAP Hybris, which will break your siloed customer experiences and enable a seamless, engaging customer experience, all through their journey. 

Get in touch with our experts at Jarvis for a next-generation eCommerce shopping experience.