fans cheering on baseball team in Fenway Park
PHOTO: Taylor Rooney

You’re watching a baseball game on your favorite sports app. Your favorite player hits a home run. You celebrate on your favorite social media platform. Within seconds, you’re presented with opportunities to purchase a replica jersey adorned with that player’s uniform number, buy tickets to an upcoming game, and watch your team with other fans at the local sports bar.

You’ve just experienced the fruits of an elevated shopping experience — when a brand successfully plugs into and harnesses your mind space. It was made possible by a digital experience platform (DXP) that has achieved the highest goals of a retail business: anticipating what consumers like and want and delivering it to them at the precise moment they’re ready to make a decision.

There’s a particular irony to that scenario: It is duplicating if not enhancing the type of relevant and personalized experience that brick-and-mortar retailers have strived to achieve even before online shopping began to threaten their survival.  

Maximize the Customer Experience at Every Touchpoint

It’s not at all a stretch to say DXPs are doing for every other customer touchpoint — including physical retail stores — what content management systems (CMS) did for brochures and websites beginning more than 20 years ago.

The common thread is the intent has always been to maximize every customer experience by anticipating each customer’s expectations. The difference is the technologies and the competition have evolved by orders of magnitude. And the best part is that DXPs continue to evolve and improve to better meet marketers’ needs.

But make no mistake: content management systems continue to serve as the backbone of most online experiences today. They provide global websites with an efficient way to create, manage, track and ensure the consistency of written content, data, images, version control and workflows for brands to set up their digital brochures.

Related Article: From Web CMS to DX Platforms: The Evolution of Content Management

The Mutation of CMS

But bespoke CMS solutions are rare, meaning some businesses’ specific needs can’t be addressed by so-called “off-the-shelf” solutions. Invariably, that leads to building extensions and modifications on top of systems. Thus the bloating of CMS began, creating silos within organizations, making “rip-and-replace” scenarios difficult to impossible for site relaunches and often leading to bad search experiences.

Customer expectations also grew dramatically along with the inevitable increase of competition and the introduction of new marketing and sales channels such as mobile apps. Simply put, consumers demanded more relevant content and an overall greater digital experience.

For that to happen, brands needed clearer visibility into user behavior, the ability to define more granular consumer personas and sharper consistency of content across the new channels. Most important: they wanted a way to automatically generate tailored, personalized communications to each customer across every online channel.

Related Article: With Content Delivery, What Goes Around Comes Around

The Goal: An Immersive, Elevated Experience

In other words, competition, consumer expectations and new technologies led to the evolution from CMS to DXP. Many retailers began to duplicate their online efforts in physical stores with personalized, immersive interactions, often promoted through social media campaigns. Brands recognized the value — and the methods — of enhancing the customer experience in physical stores beyond one-click ordering and two-day shipping.

Meanwhile, in the background the pendulum swung back to a simpler way: so-called “headless commerce.” Now marketers had to deliver a stunning experience for each interaction via a cutting-edge front end in an agnostic manner. DXP systems were the enabler, allowing businesses to share any type of asset across any digital touchpoint: online, in-store, billboards, kiosks, customer portals, ecommerce systems, irrespective of the technology powering the glass and often with no glass at all as our digital assistants have shown.

That’s what marketers want from technology in the first place: To reach customers more effectively than before.

Without getting too technical, exceptional DXP systems:

  • Leverage the most relevant capabilities of CMS.
  • Run seamlessly with CRM and customer intelligence solutions.
  • Incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into search so that every interaction optimizes the next interaction.
  • Offer the benefits of being built on an open platform.
  • Embrace the flexibility of microservices and APIs.
  • Integrate with disparate backend applications, thus reducing the strain on IT departments.

Related Article: Investigating the Cost, Integration and Other Realities of Digital Experience Platforms

From Anticipation to Satisfaction

From a practical standpoint, DXPs track customer activities, behaviors, interactions and locations. That enables brands to deliver targeted content (which can reside not just in the CMS, but a DAM, a commerce system, social channels) based on customer profiles, which provides highly personalized and compelling experiences across a broad range of digital touchpoints throughout the purchasing journey. That in turn increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

And when we talk about personalization, it’s not just an “If you bought this, then you may like that” scenario. It’s about harnessing the power of AI to anticipate what consumers want based on their search history, browsing history, purchasing history, social media interactions, location and demographics — and then delivering an elevated experience that produces a positive transaction and a mutually beneficial ongoing relationship.

After all, that’s how you wound up with your favorite player’s jersey while watching that baseball game at your team-specific bar.