The Future of Digital Commerce is Powered by the Collective
By Amanda Elam, SVP, Global Marketing, Bloomreach
In business, silos are everywhere. Information silos, data silos, organizational silos — these divisions surround us no matter what industry we work in, and we spend countless hours trying to overcome them. The (many, many) hours are often worth it in the end. We’ve all seen that the most impactful products, the most effective data, the most efficient companies, are all driven by collaboration, diversity, and interconnectivity.
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Yet when it comes to the ways in which we attract and retain customers, there is a silo that has become more and more distinct as digital commerce has grown into a leading driver of sales and a primary channel for customer engagement. Marketers, merchandisers, and CRM managers — the three roles leading the charge to attract, convert, and retain customers — are all trying to create a relationship with the customer that results in a purchase, but they’re doing it separately.
And it’s easy for us all to become complacent with this separation. Trust me, as a marketer myself, I get it. We have plenty to worry about already — revenues to grow, KPIs to hit, leads to generate. Sacrificing effort and time on my own KPI in order to collaborate with another team is probably not at the top of the to-do list.
But to ignore this silo does a disservice to the customers we’ve all set out to please. Our internal disconnection is readily apparent to them. They’re being fed different information from different sources at the same company: an email from marketing driving you to buy a shirt, a site banner from merchandising driving you to buy a watch, a triggered email from CRM with “recommendations” that are actually out of stock in your size.
To the customer, this digital experience is anything but seamless; it’s simply frustrating. The marketer, merchandiser, and CRM manager have each achieved their conversion of click rate, add to basket, or site visit, while the ultimate conversion of a purchase (or even more so, a happy customer) were sacrificed at the altar of silos.
As you consider the future of customer relationships in your organization, it’s time to think bigger. Because the future success of your marketing, merchandising, and CRM teams is powered by the collective — by these three functions working as one to fuel digital commerce for your company. Together, you can become the commerce experience team of the future, driving the customer lifecycle by empowering these three roles to blur lines and present a united front to the customer.
Looking at these three roles cohesively, all working together as the new digital commerce team, provides an opportunity for one, data-powered team to drive a more impactful and efficient customer experience. And ultimately, this will lead to faster, more personalized commerce and better business results.
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So how do we get there?
- Start with community. Few understand the power of community better than marketers. We depend on our fellow marketers for new ideas, templates, campaigns, and more. It’s time to expand beyond the confines of our own field. Connect with the merchandisers and CRM managers at your own organization and elsewhere. Learn where the gaps are so you can begin to course correct — does everyone have access to the same data sources? Are you aligned on campaigns? Is your content accurately reflecting your product?
- Consolidate your tech stack. Yes, this again. For as often as we’ve all been told to consolidate our tech stack, we’ve probably only thought of that in the context of our own departments. As you learn more from your community, you’ll be able to see better avenues for consolidation across all three roles and the tools they use. This can help you find more efficient tools that empower all functions, not just one.
- Marry your customer and product data. As consumers increasingly turn to digital channels first for inspiration and shopping, it has become more important than ever for your brand to differentiate through storytelling. But the stories your content tells are only effective when they’re tied to accurate customer and product information. As we align our collective team, we can actually deliver true personalization focused on the individual with a combination of customer and product data, creating the most impactful customer experience possible.
- Don’t forget your developers. Developers may seem further removed from our day-to-day responsibilities, but they are the ones bringing our customer experiences to life from behind the scenes. As we consider the steps above — creating community, consolidating tech, unifying data — we need to include the development team in these conversations to ensure collaboration doesn’t stop at the front-end.
- Set a cross-functional KPI that’s focused on the customer. In truth, we know that every role in the organization has the best of intentions when it comes to their customers, and that marketers, merchandisers, and CRM managers alike wish to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Allow these teams to succeed together by establishing a metric that will celebrate the success of collaboration with a common focus on the customer. Whether its customer lifetime value (CLV), average order value (AOV), engaged sessions, customer churn, retention rate, repeat purchase, or a metric unique to your organization, a cross-functional KPI can help ensure everyone is incentivized to work towards the same, customer-focused goal.
Digital commerce has hit an inflection point; it’s now the primary way every business must engage their customers. That’s shifted the goal posts for us as marketers and raised the stakes for everyone in the organization tasked with driving revenue (no pressure or anything).
If we want to succeed, we need to remove the blinders that have kept marketing, merchandising, and CRM in silos. On our own we can maintain the status quo, but together, we can create a customer experience driven by unified data, consolidated technology, and empowered teams. Isn’t that worth a spot at the top of the to-do list?
There is untapped power in the collective — now is the time to harness it.
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