injecting magic in the every day
Brands are missing out on a big opportunity when they fill their ecommerce pages with boring and useless details like SKU codes PHOTO: Almos Bechtold

In true holiday spirit, commerce teams are laser-focused on key performance indicators (KPI), conversions and click-to-buy metrics. This focus works for traditional, transactional commerce experiences, but shoppers today want more. As companies plan their 2018 goals and strategies, it’s time for commerce leaders to think bigger — beyond the call to action — before they’re left behind.

The art of storytelling is thousands of years old, but it is bringing greater meaning and depth to ecommerce experiences for today’s consumers. Forward-thinking commerce and brand executives have incorporated storytelling into their digital shopping experiences as a way to bring their brands to life, but they have been restricted by a lack of technology capable of making the process intelligent and easy to execute. Today, market leaders are using technologies that empower storytelling throughout the ecommerce experience — drawing the customer in, telling a richer brand narrative through content, and ultimately guiding people to a sale.

A Chance to Beat Amazon

It’s a chance to beat Amazon, the king of the transactional experience, at a game it just barely plays: telling irresistible stories to connect with customers on a personal and emotional level. Technology that injects brand stories into the shopping experience, content that inspires and customer journeys cultivated by automation and personalization are all mission-critical.

The trailblazers of uniting content and commerce are brands you might not expect, like Casper and Huckberry.

Until Casper came along, did you think a mattress company — part of an industry stuck in traditional marketing and intermediary sales channels — would become a cult-followed brand? Admired for its visionary content across channels, Casper has even debuted its own quarterly print and digital magazine, "Woolly," which is all about “comfort, wellness and modern life.”

Similarly, outdoor apparel brand Huckberry leans deep into its dual identity as a retailer and a content creator, describing itself as an “online shop and journal that inspires.” Storytelling is rooted at its core. Plus, Huckberry has mastered the art of weaving stories through every customer touchpoint and providing the right information at the right time — like the quick one-two punch with which the company sends customers print catalogs and then follows up with an email the morning after the catalogs are delivered. The magic of powerful ecommerce and compelling content is undeniable — and that combination is going to gain momentum.

Powering Storytelling Through Technology

To gain ground at the forefront of omnichannel marketing, commerce leaders need to use tools that power personalized content through the ecommerce experience. Systems that combine experience management and ecommerce functionality build the strongest and smartest connections between brands and their customers. Transactional data, cart and order management, and product information gives marketing teams the commerce keys to deliver in-depth product content and offers that influence purchase decisions in an on-brand and unified way. 

Physical retailers are the pioneers of crafting storefront displays that draw people in. Online marketers now have the tools to create a richer, fuller digital experience that appeals to one customer at a time.

Creating Meaningful Content

An omnichannel experience creates the context to connect customers with the right piece of content, but how can digital leaders evoke an emotional connection with customers? Aim for inspiration and connection in the greater context of the customer journey. Content that inspires can spark fires in customers, inspiring them to be more loyal to a brand because it speaks to them on a higher level. For instance, Yeti Coolers offers an online content series called “Stories,” which features tales of people experiencing outdoor adventures. Imagine how connected you would feel to Yeti if one of its Stories videos inspired you to venture out into the wild for your first-ever fishing trip.

Orchestrating the Customer Journey

Finally, the relevance of content and how it is executed across touchpoints throughout the customer journey matters just as much as the content itself. A connected experience feels focused and cohesive — think of the sleek, innovative, inspirational experience a company like Yeti offers, and compare that to unfocused, context-free chaos of hundreds of refrigerators on Brands today need to harness the combined power of multiple customer data sources and join up previously siloed marketing technologies to orchestrate automated, personalized customer journeys.

Now is the time to take control of your customer touchpoints, weaving together a seamless story and experience that surfaces at the right place and time in the customer journey to accelerate your sales engine ahead of the pack. Aim for relevance for the customer, and for their heartstrings: The raw emotions that lie underneath the product you sell. Ratings and reviews do not pique much of an emotional response. Stories of adventure in the backcountry and memories of relaxing Sunday mornings? Those sure do.