Customer journeys for global brands
Innovation in e-commerce is a series of articles that will help retailers gain competitive advantage. In this article I am focusing on the need for customers' demands and expectations to drive brand commerce strategy. Customers as the ultimate source of revenue have always been important for brands, however customers have been considered only as the final link in a very complex supply chain. The opportunity for multichannel commerce strategy is to make customers part of the brand journey, rather than the end of the line.
What does a global brand need to do in order to provide an engaging customer journey?
Brands need a consistent personality
The true meaning of being global in 2012, assuming that brands have personalities that interact with their customers at different touch points, is that global politics, global economy, global social behaviour, global technology, global legal aspects and global environment, exert an influence and are part of the company's daily affairs. To complicate everything a little further, imagine that every action a brand takes in one part of the world can jeopardise the brand's position in another, simply because in different regions a relevant topic may be handled differently and subject to different views, opinions and perspectives. Think how easy it is to spread the word of dislike through social media and how it’s increasingly complicated for a global brand to maintain a pattern of coherence both daily and over time. Consistency comes from creating a brand personality. To learn more about how brand personalities can be created please read author Jean-Noel Kapferer http://www.kapferer.com/.
Time to market towards innovation and competitive advantage
For a brand to work their way through and generate an effective customer journey internationally they need to have good global knowledge and be able to react rapidly to frequent changes. Although a cliché, time to market is everything, because there is no other way to be innovative and gain competitive advantage, both essential characteristics for industry winners. But what if a brand is reacting based on incorrect assumptions? Then there is no innovation or competitive advantage but actions based on incorrect assumptions that can lead to brand failure. Knowledge on its own is not enough though; without rapid reaction there is no innovation or competitive advantage because it is highly likely that someone else has the right technology and gets there first. Global brands are world leaders and competition is strong, so there is no other place to be than at the top of your market.
Deal with constant connection and non-linear journeys
All the changes that we are witnessing in consumer shopping habits are being fuelled by the rise of smartphones, tablets and social marketing interaction. Global brands understand that their consumers’ journeys mean constant connection and that they are increasingly following non-linear journeys when making the decision to buy. Consumers can touch the brand online and offline several times and in different ways before making the decision to purchase. Acquisition and retention activities therefore need to be innovative and deliver profitable growth for businesses, which necessitates setting up the right metrics. We will discuss metrics and KPIs in more detail in the future, but that is a subject for another article.
Establish a high degree of flexibility with your technology partners
It is very important that technology enables flexibility and control of the different elements of the customer journey. Testing performance across all owned and bought media and understanding the impact on earned media. Only with the right KPI’s and an agile multichannel solution providing a high degree of flexibility is a global brand equipped to respond quickly in macro and micro situations and, as a result, gain competitive advantage while innovating.
The brands we see doing best in multichannel commerce are precisely the ones who understand their data and are building their customer journeys accordingly. This requires a great deal of agility both within the organisation and from technology platforms and partners.
Coming next: The power of advocacy
In the second part of this article I will give an overview of the power of advocacy and I will explain why you need a strategy to recruit effective advocates for your brand.
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