We have come a long way since the first digital shopping cart. And now that the novelty of “e-commerce” is gone, we are at a point where shoppers are getting annoyed when retailers and CPGs don’t deliver a personalized, intuitive and information-rich experience that is fluid and seamless across multiple channels. In fact, one could argue that shoppers stopped caring about the difference between physical and online channels long before retailers and consumer goods manufacturers did.
Last year Mindtree was proud to sponsor the inaugural E-Commerce Award with IGD, a membership organization for the retail and consumer goods industries with 800 members worldwide. If there was a central theme that stood out while reviewing award entries, it was the importance of eliminating friction from the consumer decision journey.
Some of the finalists sought to accomplish this by taking a channel management approach, tackling the findability problem by working with e-commerce retailers on taxonomy and rationalizing electronic aisles. Other companies-including the winner, Constant Commerce-bridged the gap between inspiration and commerce. Constant Commerce built a platform that allows brands and media organizations to easily create engaging (and shoppable) digital content, apps and ads about food, health/fitness, parenting, and beauty and personal care.
Aside from reducing friction, another big theme was making smart alliances rather than attempting to do it all by yourself. Partnership was key. Some of the strongest entries last year realized that the smartest path to excellence in e-commerce was not through setting up their own e-shops, but by working with partners and making it easier for their customers to find their products within various e-retail environments.
Making Digital Real: Seeing Beyond Channels
This year, we will once again sponsor and judge the E-Commerce Award, and we will also take on a second: the Digital Engagement Award. In both cases, the big theme we expect to see this year is something we have been referring to as “making digital real.” In other words, digital experiences and initiatives that make the lines between virtual and actual disappear, but weaving the best digital features and functionality throughout every step of the retail and marketing process.
Along these lines, we find that there are four factors that can contribute to true digital innovation:
- creating remarkable digital customer experiences
- digitizing the value chain across the front and back end
- developing sense-and-respond systems that adapt to data and insights
- shaping new, innovative business models and partnerships
If your organization has rolled out innovative new e-commerce or digital marketing initiatives in the last year that touch on one or more of these points, we strongly encourage you to submit them for one of these awards.
In addition to the factors above, and perhaps even more importantly, remember that ultimately digital is about being close to the customer. Digital channels allow you to test, observe and learn, and should not be merely used to apply mass-media principles-especially with regards to social media/earned media-with the only results being likes, views or downloads.
So ask yourself this: Did you use digital to solve a unique business problem which wasn’t possible to solve using the traditional media? And if so, what did you learn from it that can be put to long-term use?