Digital commerce has been upended over the last eighteen months. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Main Streets and forced consumers to adapt to online shopping across all categories, no one would have predicted their response. “The pandemic created a number of new customer behaviors that will be around for years to come,” said Raj De Datta.
Raj De Datta is CEO and co-founder at Bloomreach, which offers a Customer Data and Experience Platform called Bloomreach Engagement that combines the traditional aspects of a customer data platform together with marketing automation, creating a unified customer profile that powers intelligent marketing campaigns. We spoke with De Datta on how the pandemic upended customer behavior, and about making CDPs mission-critical components of the martech stack, especially for those in the commerce industry.
SMG: How did the pandemic change customer behavior? What about this behavior change makes a CDP necessary?
Raj De Datta: The pandemic has shifted new demographics of customers online, overnight. New online shoppers include older consumers who previously avoided digital and consumers buying online in categories such as grocery for the first time. This makes it even more critical for businesses to adopt a CDP, which can help them create more relevant, meaningful experiences for this increased population of consumers now engaging with their digital experiences.
SMG: How else has customer behavior changed that speaks to the need for a CDP?
De Datta: Customers are really inundated with choice these days. They go online to find a product and are met with endless options. It’s led to a lot of frustration for them, and they often end up settling for a choice they’re not entirely happy with.
This has forced brands to consider the digital experience they’re providing and how that can remove frustration for customers. That’s where a CDP comes in. The customer data it unifies into a single platform is going to help you create an experience that is tailored to who that customer is and what it is they want. And with a CDP like the one we offer at Bloomreach, you’ll be able to use that data to power your marketing content and campaigns, ultimately driving an even more personalized experience for that customer. You can ensure you’re putting the right product in front of the right customer at the right time. That in turn creates a more enjoyable shopping experience for the customer.
SMG: What are some of the biggest challenges faced by those looking to drive digital commerce?
De Datta: It all comes down to the experience being offered. For many years, it was enough to simply have a catalogue of products online. We saw how many businesses were unprepared even as recently as last year, when the pandemic brought all consumers online, overnight. These businesses hadn’t been thinking of commerce from a digital-first mindset; e-commerce and digital channels were secondary to their physical strategies.
But for brands to succeed now and into the future, they need to flip that thinking. They need to prioritize the digital experience — utilizing platforms and solutions that help make commerce relevant and personalized for consumers — because e-commerce is only going to continue to grow in the coming years.
SMG: Why is it important to use a CDP geared specifically toward commerce?
De Datta: A CDP built for commerce is developed with the flexibility and agility needed to drive real results for your business. It isn’t enough to just understand who your customer is — that data alone won’t allow you to create the kind of personalized journey that will inspire a customer to make a purchase or remain loyal to your brand in the long run.
That’s why Bloomreach sees customer and product data as equally important, and why we want to not only show you who your customers are, but also what they’re looking for and the things that complement what they’re looking for. It’s that last piece that shows customers you’re listening, and that you understand the deeper motivation behind their search. Building our solutions specifically for commerce has allowed us to be hyper focused on delivering that level of personalization digitally.
And from there you can use content and campaigns to move the customer to conversion, and more importantly, build the loyalty that will have them returning to your brand even after that initial purchase. A CDP built for commerce helps to drive customer journeys that are cyclical, not linear.
SMG: How can different teams benefit from using a CDP? Are there any uncommon use cases or teams who might not seem to benefit at first but would?
De Datta: Marketers and merchandisers are both critical to a company’s digital commerce growth, yet they often work in silos when it comes to reaching the same customers, each trying to achieve separate goals. Marketers are focused on acquisition, while merchandisers are focused on conversion, and they’re each using different tools in a disconnected tech stack to achieve these KPIs. As a result, the customer doesn’t get a consistent message across a brand’s content, and they’re less likely to make a purchase.
Yet when marketers and merchandisers work together — with both cohorts using their CDP’s unified customer view within a tech stack that offers all relevant data — they tap into the next level of customer experience. Now, these two separate functions are united under the same goals. Now, they’re using the same insights to inform content across marketing campaigns as well as website content. And now, the customer is being fed complementary messages across all digital channels. It gives them greater confidence in your brand and a better understanding of what you can offer them.
SMG: What does the future look like for digital commerce and how does a CDP fit into that vision?
De Datta: The future of digital commerce is built upon a foundation of meaningful connections between brands and consumers, wherein a brand takes the data customers are providing and uses that to drive a better, more personalized shopping experience. It’s a two-way transaction — if a customer gives you their information, what are you giving them in return? When what you’re returning is a more enjoyable, more relevant digital experience, you’re going to build the type of loyalty that brings customers back to your brand again and again.
A CDP — coupled with marketing automation for maximum effectiveness — is what allows you to return that experience. It will unify your data, giving you a single customer profile, and then empower you to speak directly to that customer and what it is they’re seeking. After all, your goal isn’t to just attract and convert a customer. You want to engage, inspire, convert, build loyalty, drive repeat engagement, and on and on. A CDP is the first step in building customer relationships that not only convert, but last.
Learn more about how a CDP can improve your digital customer experience here.