Consumer shopping patterns during the holiday season and in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day point to one very clear trend: growth in the use of mobile devices is outpacing that of online buying. That means content marketing teams at retail companies will need to move swiftly this year to reconfigure the way they engage with customers in order to create a user experience that meets this demand.
Content will need to be honed for a smart phone and a tablet because both have more limited space and bandwidth than a laptop or computer, said John Squire, a spokesman for the Smarter Commerce team at IBM. Smarter Commerce is a new platform that integrates a variety of technologies to help retailers create a seamless process from the moment an order is placed to the time it is shipped to a consumer.
For example on an iPad, the ability to scroll or swipe through content on a page is a different form of interaction with a consumer than on a laptop. The beauty that the tablet can showcase on its display is also sharper, Squire said.
“For some types of media, it’s not about the products but about the experience and the types of content they can bring that extends what you can learn about the product, and what you can learn about the retailer,” Squire said.
Willing to Share
IBM research found that consumers are looking for more ways to communicate with retailers through their preferred media channels and a more personalized shopping experience. Consumers are also increasingly willing to share information with their favorite retailers to educate them on how, when and where to approach them.
IBM’s Smarter Commerce platform gives retailers access to technologies including Unica, which offers 1:1 personalized messaging to consumers; Coremetrics, which offers digital analytics and marketing; and DemandTec, a leader in pricing and promotions. Retailers can choose between using the entire suite of services or implementing single program elements into their own system.
The purpose of the system is to help retailers follow every click a consumer makes across a site, and use the insight collected from the patterns to connect customer demand all the way through the supply chain – even up to the procurement of raw materials.
“Smarter Commerce is about how we tie together the concepts of how businesses have to buy or acquire services, and how they end up thinking about marketing those beyond just price,” Squire said. “It’s about placement, promotion, relevancy and the ability to do one-to-one marketing on any channel.”
Tapping the Power of the Story
On the marketing end, a consumer’s clicks can lead an individual into a system of personalized emails, display ads and direct mail. They also can provide access to other content customized to buying decisions.
For example, if a customer is shopping for jeans, a retailer might suggest other types of jeans or styles that are specific to them based on what they’ve done in the past on a site and what the retailer knows about the person. Using customer data, the retailer might also tap content such as a video or information on how the product is made.
The manufacturing process is “important to certain consumers concerned about things like sustainable farming or the use of organic cotton,” Squire said. “The ability to tell a story is powerful in retailing.”
Content marketing also will allow retailers to redefine loyalty programs, which until recently consisted mainly of points and other buying incentives. By using content to connect with consumers, retailers have an opportunity to encourage them to spread the word about their brand, and business, through social media channels.
“Consumers are turning the tables, saying that you as a brand have to be loyal to me,” Squire said. “Consumers are saying, ‘Send me something that is interesting – content, video, information – that helps me make a purchase decision or helps me reconfirm my affinity to your brand. Why should I be loyal to your brand and why are you loyal to me?’”
The challenge lies in encouraging consumers to see a brand in a positive light and spread the word in all channels, Squire said.
Mobile image via Shutterstock.