eCommerce is no longer in its infancy, and brands wanting to gain a slice of the online spending pie are no longer getting in on the ground floor. So what exactly should you be paying attention to and how can you build a robust eCommerce strategy for your brand?
We recently spoke to Brian Corish, Former Chief Customer Officer of Bank of Ireland and Head of Digital at Vodafone to find out.
Approximately 40% of Ireland’s economy runs through Bank of Ireland, and naturally, the bank relies on data and technology to serve its customers. Brian is an advocate of delivering customer experiences that adds value to people’s lives, and not using technology as just another marketing tactic.
TalentHub (TH): Brian, thank you for your time today. While “digital” is no longer the new thing on the block, too many brands still think that an analogue experience can simply be transferred online. As we know, this doesn’t work; that digital is a mindset far more than just a channel. What are your three pieces of advice for brands that want to develop a robust eCommerce offering?
Brian Corish (BC):
My top three pieces of advice are:
1. Understand what it is that you offer that customers can’t get from Amazon, what is it that makes your experience unique? How can you incentivize customers to return to your site? It’s not enough to simply have digital fulfillment, the experience has to be memorable and enjoyable.
2. It may sound like a contradiction, but if you have a retail presence, start there. A large number of brands I’ve encountered have a bit of an ‘us vs them’ attitude where eCommerce is attempting to compete with retail. Speak to front line staff to understand what questions customers ask when in store. Observe successful sales vs. unsuccessful ones, those insights can prove invaluable for a content strategy.
3. When it comes to technology, the latest, most powerful platforms can be very tempting, but in my experience ease of use and data sharing between platforms is more important than features. Technology platforms that require specialized resources to run an A/B test, for example, will create bottlenecks. If your team are maxing out the capabilities of your technology, chances are you’re in a good place.
TH: We know Amazon’s 1 click shopping was a game changer. What else, in your opinion, has been a force for real transformation in how brands serve customers?
BC: The rise of messaging without a doubt. It has changed our behaviour as consumers dramatically in a few short years. Yet, when it comes to care, some brands are still relying on call centres as their primary contact method which, when you think about it, is a pretty poor experience when most of us don’t even want to be on the phone to our friends!
TH: We hear a lot about personalisation being the secret sauce for a successful eCommerce offering, but at the same time personalisation can be thought of as a creepy invasion of a customer’s identity/privacy/habits etc. What do brands need to do to deliver a best practice experience to customers while at the same time reassuring them that their data is being respectfully treated and securely looked after?
BC: Brands need to be consciously transparent about what they are and aren’t using your data for, as well as the what the benefits are to you as a consumer if you share your data. This needs to be explained in plain language, easily accessible, not hiding it in terms and conditions. Consumers increasingly expect a value exchange to occur, if they don’t see benefit in handing over their data, they simply won’t do it.
TH: For brands who do have an eCommerce platform in place, what are the top three metrics that they should pay attention to above all others?
BC: Firstly, conversion rate is still important to determine usability and is an easy way to benchmark against the category. Secondly, dwell time is massively important to understand if your content is having the right level of engagement, too long and the content potentially isn’t clear, too short and it’s not engaging enough. And finally performance; load times have a large impact on bounce rates. I’ve seen a two-second increase in load time increase bounce rates by 100%.
TH: We’re asking you to look in your crystal ball now and make a forecast as to what you see as the next big thing in eCommerce. What should brands be looking out for to future-proof themselves now?
BC: Conversational interfaces will be massively disruptive, particularly to commoditised industries. About 70 percent of the word searches done on Amazon’s search browser are for generic goods already. That means consumers are typing in “batteries” or “running shoes” rather than asking, specifically, for Duracell or Nike. As we get used to using voice assistants for shopping, it will present a major challenge for brands. The basics of brand awareness and brand recall will be very important at that moment of purchase. The strategies shares in one of my favourite marketing books, Byron Sharp’s ‘How Brands Grow’ still apply.
TH: Thank you Brian! We look forward to hearing more at HubTalks on the 4th of April.