Ohad Hagai

Ohad Hagai / 25 min read

Ohad Hagai

Ohad Hagai

-25 min read-

Introduction

In the intensely competitive space of eCommerce, emerging technologies have continued to redefine customer expectations. Speed and usability are bare essentials and no longer enough to win and retain the savvy customer of today. Every touchpoint, on every channel between your brand and customers — before and after purchase — needs to be examined and optimized.

Building a 360° customer journey is a key priority and challenge for online businesses In 2018 and beyond. Weaving together all customer touchpoints — desktop, mobile, social, and IoT — and blending these with your offline presence is key to competing and thriving going forward.

As a technology company that helps online businesses preserve a distraction-free journey, we gathered perspectives of eCommerce leaders from leading brands. With customer touchpoints varying across brands and verticals, each of our interviews captures points of view, challenges, and strategies unique to their business model.

A special thank you goes out to these eCommerce executives for taking the time from their busy schedules to share their valuable insights. I hope these lessons learned offer practical methods you can use to optimize your customer journey.

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Charlie Cole: Chief Digital Officer, TUMI

Charlie Cole leads the development of TUMI’s national and international eCommerce and digital platforms. Since Samsonite’s acquisition of Tumi in 2016, Charlie has also taken the role of Global Chief eCommerce Officer for Samsonite Corporation, and oversees strategy for brands such as Samsonite, American Tourister, Hartmann, Gregory, High Sierra and others. Charlie previously served as CEO of The Line, and headed up eCommerce initiatives for Lucky Brand and Schiff Nutrition, the largest acquisition of a VMS company in the history of Wall Street.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

As people have become more comfortable searching and buying online, they’ve also become more demanding. How do you satisfy a savvy customer? We’re now in a world where Amazon has made many of the must-have usability factors really easy, and many online brands are now well on their way to delivering a high-quality experience, swift payment options, and easy returns. For savvy customers, the bar for expectations starts to move forward from here, and you need to be thinking about what’s next when it comes to elevating the customer’s experience with your brand. Right now, I see two main areas emerging both as challenges and opportunities
for online brands:

  1. Privacy and security: How do you make customers feel safe in the burgeoning world of the IoT? Alexa was the highest-selling device this past holiday season. That’s exciting, but I’m not sure everyone fully understands the privacy concerns that come with IoT. All of these voice-activated innovations have passive recording capability and could be vulnerable to being breached as well. Online brands need to be proactive in assuring customers that the right measures are being taken to protect their private and personally identifiable information when using these devices.
  2.  After-sales service: This is where I think you’re going to see a lot of brands focus more intensely in 2018. When the Amazons, Alibabas, and Zalandos of the world sell you something, they cross their fingers for
    30 days, and once the product is in the customer’s hands, they forget about
    it. They don’t have a warranty or a repair division — that’s not the kind of business they want to be in. That presents a tremendous advantage for a company that sells durable goods like TUMI or Samsonite. If we can offer customers a level of post-sales support in a way that no one else can, then that’s where we can truly differentiate ourselves.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

I think there are two aspects of the customer relationship brands need to make more of a priority:

  1. Service and support: We have got to get back to our roots of how we service our customers because it is a point of differentiation. There are very few truly global brands that are doing this well. For example, when it comes to luggage and travel accessories, their durability is most tested when you’re on the road and away from home. What happens to that customer when something goes wrong with their product? I can’t name more than one or two other companies that are set up to help in those circumstances. With TUMI products, if you break your bag in Moscow or Shanghai, for example, we have a physical location where you can bring in your product, and we can solve your problem much quicker than an online pure play company could or most companies in our space for that matter. For global brands like us, being able to offer a high level of support on an international level opens up a special opportunity to delight and service your customers in a way that no one else can, so it’s important not to let opportunities like this fall by the wayside.
  2. Telling your brand’s unique story online: A big priority is getting our brand’s unique story out there, and letting consumers know what sets it apart from others. We’re going to make it a priority to better explain why TUMI’s heritage matters. The amount of investment and technology we put in to testing our products and improving their quality and durability are stories that we need share with our audience a lot more. Heritage is not something you can manufacture, so we’re looking forward to embracing it more and telling that story in a more impactful way online.

We have got to get back to our roots of how we service our customers because it is a point of differentiation. For global brands, offering a high level of support opens up opportunities to delight customers in a way that no one else can.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

We’ve been actively partnering with a number of technologies:

  1. Leveraging AI to improve the customer journey after the sale: We’ve invested in a technology solution called Narvar that layers a piece of AI to allow you to instantly get an estimated delivery date for your product. This might seem like a relatively small detail but it brought significant results and our customer service calls have consequently decreased by 20 percent.
  2. Dynamic and contextual messaging: We’ve also partnered recently with AgilOne, which is helping us deliver more dynamic messaging capabilities by storing virtually all of our customer data, from post-purchase, email, google analytics, customer service data, warranty, and repair data and social graphs. Using this data, we can identify better who in our CRM should receive what kind of messages and offers, and make sure we’re able to send out more nuanced messaging to our various customer segments.

Investing in site speed and performance: We are investing significantly in content delivery networks (CDNs), JavaScript and other technologies to decrease our site load time and get it to the point where
it is equivalent to that of a mobile app.

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

If you are a multi-channel retailer, how is behavior on your website influencing your other channels? How do you track your online metrics with your offline results? One example of this is store locator visits — how many people actually visit your store locator after viewing your online advertising? It’s shocking to me how few people I ask know the answer. You need to look at these trends and then be able to accurately correlate them to offline sales so you can see if the traffic you’re driving to the website is helping. What searches, advertisements, or any other behavior actually cause someone to come to your site, and how many times do they visit until they make a purchase? Applying first-click metrics up and down the attribution funnel is important to stores that have a brick-and-mortar presence.

If you have brick-and-mortar presence, how are you using that to differentiate yourself from other brands? You have the opportunity to offer your customers a level of service that purely online retailers can’t.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

  1. Use your offline footprint to your advantage: If you have a brick-and-mortar presence, how are you using that to differentiate yourself from other brands? You have the opportunity to offer your customers a level of service that purely online retailers can’t. But if you’re not making this a priority, that’s a huge opportunity lost.
  2. Understand your direct website’s influence on the larger customer journey: You need to know your website visitors’ impact on traffic and behavior on all other channels, be it offline, on Amazon, Nordstrom, or any other channel you’re selling your products. I think this is another technical challenge that more organizations need to tackle going forward.
  3. After-sales service: It’s the one place your largest competitor in Amazon has currently decided not to play in. When IKEA bought TaskRabbit, that was an interesting example of a retailer moving to enhance the after-sales experience for its customers.


With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

  1. Site speed: Speed is our number one priority with a bullet. Your site has got to load quickly. Assume your customers are on one bar of data in a desolate area of North Dakota! It’s one of those factors that eCommerce executives just don’t think about as much as we should. Every time executives look at loading times, we’re often located in places with optimal networks and using the latest devices in the market. You have to stop and put yourself in the consumer’s shoes.
  2. Personalization: Use past customer data to optimize the mobile experience in every possible manner. If they’ve been opening emails about briefcases, should they be seeing a homepage about aluminum luggage? Questions like these are important all-around, but they are especially so on mobile. Mobile time on sites are shorter, people have less time, they’re not in a confined area, so their dwell time is going to be less. Therefore relevancy takes on an increasingly higher role in the entire experience.
  3. Cross-device attribution: How do you combine a customer profile that looks on your website on an iMac, then an iPhone, and then an iPad, and combine that info to give them the most relevant experience possible? Because from the customer’s point-of-view, they don’t care what device they’re using. They expect that you’re going to optimize their experience. I think you’ll see many organizations talking more and more this year about how they can overcome these types of challenges.

Jason LeBoeuf: Director of eCommerce, ASICS

Jason oversees the day-to-day management and optimization of ASICS’ brand sites and marketplaces and leads innovation regionally for the U.S. Prior to ASICS, Jason was Director of Global eCommerce Development with the National Basketball Association (NBA), managing the global development of over 10 eCommerce businesses. Earlier, Jason led all technology and program enhancements as Director of eCommerce Platforms & Operations LoyaltyEdge at American Express.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

Customers these days are more sophisticated and know they’re going to be marketed to. They can accept this, but they are looking for an engaging experience that feels seamless, and for online retailers to at least show them products and promotions they actually need. They want you to know what they’re looking
for and give them results that are relevant.

At ASICS, a big push for us going into 2018 is product content. We need to be a showroom for our products, and our brand site is where our customers are doing a lot of the research on our products. We’re becoming much more aggressive at enhancing our product imagery, how we’re displaying our products, how we describe their features and benefits, and incorporating product video more than we have in the past.

We’ve recently launched a B2B website where our retail partners can place orders directly without having to go through their sales rep or customer service, and it’s increased the frequency of product orders from our partners.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

We believe the best spokespeople for our brand and products are our customers. With this in mind, we’re working on adding more user-generated content and are testing Shopping on Instagram.

We have it currently on the homepage and are working towards adding it to our product description pages
as well as creating a separate Instagram shopping gallery within the site.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

We’ve launched a new feature on our site that shows in-store inventory and store hours, not just for our own properties but also for select retail partners as well, so that visitors can see at which stores our products are in stock. This allows us to keep customers focused on our brand regardless of whether they are buying from us or one of our partners.

We’re also working with a third party that allows us to render the page optimized for each individual user’s device, no matter what type of mobile, tablet or PC they’re on. Since launching that we’ve been able to increase page load speed dramatically, by 40 percent.

Instead of looking for that one big change to add a 5-10 percent increase in visitors or conversions, you can find 10 improvements that can easily be A/B tested, and when implemented add up to a greater improvement than one big change.

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

Instead of looking for that one big change that’s going to add a 5-10 percent increase in visitors or conversions, you can implement a few changes that raise metrics by a quarter or half a percent each. You can find different improvements simply by running many A/B tests. Many small changes often add up to a greater improvement than one big change.

One way we’ve done this is with our mobile site search. Customers who use site search are more engaged and know exactly what they’re looking for, and analytics show they convert more often. We did a test this year on exposing search on mobile and identified one functionality problem that when fixed increased search by six percent. We also found that customers who use search converted at five percent, which was far higher than our normal rate of two percent. So applying problem-specific changes like this can influence a wider audience and impact those top KPIs.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

  1. Track attribution across all channels to better inform marketing investments: What marketing activities are actually driving the traffic and revenue on your site? In the past we were just looking at Last-Click Attribution. But now we’re partnering directly with Google and they’re helping us audit how we’re actually tracking our campaigns in many different funnels. This includes tracking how people interact with our ads such as display ads or paid search, on social channelslike Instagram, and on our YouTube videos, so that if they do show up in-store we can tie it all together and properly grasp who’s contributing where. We’re also talking about putting in some beacons in our store to track activities not just online but also in-store. Thiswill allow us more flexibility in how we spend our marketing funds.
  2. Remove process bottlenecks for your B2B partners: As a brand we’re selling direct-to-consumer (D2C), but our biggest business is with our retail partners, so we’re focusing on how we can facilitate all orders from them more quickly. We’ve recently launched a B2B website where our retail partners can place orders directly without having to go through their sales rep or customer service, and it’s increased the frequency of product orders from our partners.
  3. Optimize fulfillment logistics to speed delivery and identifying cost-saving opportunities: In our D2C channel, we’re looking at how we can optimize this process and get packages to customers within two business days. Eventually, we’ll look to leverage our network of over 100 retail stores around the country
    by using those as distribution points as well.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

  1. Reduce friction at the checkout and payment stages: As millennials grow you can expect the shift towards mobile to continue so it’s critical to create a seamless mobile experience that lets you shop and checkout more easily. Reducing friction means ensuring you have concise product info on mobile, make storing shipping and billing details easy, and accommodate the different payment processes people are using, be it Apple Pay, Amazon’s OneTouch, Masterpass or PayPal. You don’t want to force customers to have to come back, because more often than not, they won’t.
  2. Make sure your banners are also optimized for the mobile form factor: Making sure your mobile content is optimized for that device and that when you’re putting out marketing and site banners that people can actually read that content and that it’s not just built for desktop. You need to have the functionality that allows you have the best experience for both channels.
  3. Build channels that reflect and serve the needs of your customers: Is having a shopping app really the right fit for your eCommerce business? Putting resources into a mobile shopping app makes sense for high-frequency retailers like Target or Costco, who have customers purchasing on a weekly basis. But as a running shoe brand, where even our most active customers purchase every three months or less, it’s hard to stay relevant and keep that space on the consumer’s smartphone. When you do look to launch
    an app, it’s important to realize you need to provide more than just shopping. It has to be an integral part of the consumer’s life if you don’t want to get deleted the next time they need to clear up some space on their phone.

Rich Pearson: SVP Marketing, Upwork

Rich is head of marketing at Upwork, where he leads customer growth and acquisition, communications, product marketing, demand generation, customer success, and partnerships. Prior to joining Upwork, he led marketing and business development at Posterous through its acquisition by Twitter. Learn more about Rich’s point of view on Chief Marketer and CMO.com.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

Upwork is a two-sided marketplace and not an eCommerce site. That said, as the world’s largest freelancing website, we understand that trust is a key component of the customer journey. For a site like ours that matches businesses of all sizes with highly skilled, remote freelancers, establishing trust between the two parties is critical. As such, we focus on building trust across every customer touchpoint, regardless of device or channel. This is particularly important for us as more enterprise companies are choosing to hire freelancers. Of those enterprise companies that engaged freelancers in the past year, 40 percent did so through a freelancing website.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

As hiring a remote team of freelancers is a new experience for most hiring managers, we are very focused
on educating and onboarding new customers on how they can leverage a distributed team to get more done. Our education efforts will span each stage of the funnel — the obvious investment is with new prospects, but we continue to see benefits of educating existing customers on new use cases for engaging with teams
of freelancers.

We’re applying traditional conversion metrics across a more sophisticated segmentation of our funnel … analyzing our funnel by channel, freelancer category, and daypart, are making us much more effective in our acquisition efforts.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

Two come to mind. First, Namogoo has helped us identify steps in our journey that were being hijacked by competitors and to remove the threats. After deploying Namogoo, we saw significant gains in our new customer conversion rates.

I’m also very impressed with the approach that Clearbit has taken to identify customer segments and
to enable dead-simple treatments of each segment. We have not yet fully deployed Clearbit across our site, but the initial results are very positive and should allow us to serve our customers more effectively.

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

Instead of looking at new metrics, we are applying traditional acquisition and conversion metrics across
a more sophisticated segmentation of our funnel. For example, we had previously focused on channel-level segmentation. With over 5,000 freelancer skills available to hire on Upwork, channel-level segmentation didn’t generate many actionable insights. We are seeing benefits from analyzing our funnel by channel, freelancer category, and daypart (e.g. designer, developer, content marketer, lead gen), which are making us much more effective in our acquisition efforts.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

  1. Building and harvesting customer word of mouth: Everyone tracks their Net Promoter Score (NPS), but what are you doing to improve it and how are you providing your company’s evangelists with a bullhorn to spread the word about your service?
  2. A maniacal focus on eliminating aspects of your service that suck: In every category, customers have a choice. If you give them a reason to leave, they will. Go through your negative NPS scores and find the themes. Then assign a small team to fix them.
  3. Make it faster: This needs to go beyond how fast a page loads. How can you rethink the entire journey and take steps out to make it more convenient? In 2018, the most important way to delight customers is to give them extra time back.

Rich Pearson: SVP Marketing, Upwork

Jay has over 20 years experience in D2C retail, helping companies grow their online presence and omnichannel capabilities. He currently runs the D2C eCommerce for Samsonite US, including digital marketing, site experience, and customer service. Jay holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

Today, customers expect a faster and more relevant experience. Above all they’re expecting channel convenience: They want to buy when they want to buy, and where they want to buy. They don’t want it to be dictated by the retailer. So it’s our job to make this experience as seamless and as easy as possible. A customer isn’t going to say ‘this is a great piece of functionality’, they’re hopefully going to say ‘wow, that was easy’. Once they view a great online experience, the standard for all others will be expected to follow.

With so many different segments of customers visiting your website, to show everyone the same content
is clearly a way of the past. Successful companies show products and content that relates to either past behavior or indicators of future behavior. The most challenging part is not data aggregation. There’s a lot
of data out there we can mine and leverage. The hardest part is mapping out what each type of consumer should see, and creating content for that consumer — I think that’s where most retailers fail. We’re looking
to tools that help you segment your customers and personalize the journey for them.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

In addition to our top of funnel efforts, we’ve made it a priority to add enhancements to the middle and bottom of the customer journey, all the way down to checkout.

At the middle of the funnel, we’re looking at creating compare functionality so that Samsonite customers can more easily compare similar products and understand the differences between one piece of luggage versus another, for example.

At checkout, it’s important to more effectively explain to your customers when they should expect to receive their delivery. Instead of telling customers that we’re going to deliver in 4-10 business days, we can use information about where we’re shipping that order from to tell them exactly when it will arrive or at least give them a better range, and keep them updated on where their product is in the fulfillment process.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

One important way is adopting new innovations to preserve our customers’ experiences online and making sure they aren’t disrupted or diverted by malware and bots. We’ve also launched with an embedded content delivery network (eCDN), which is helping improve our site speed and the performance of our load times.

A customer isn’t going to say ‘this is a great piece of functionality’ They’re hopefully going to say ‘wow, that was easy’. Once they view one great online experience, the standard for all others will
be expected to follow.

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

It’s becoming increasingly important to get a more granular understanding of how the consumer is perceiving your brand. An NPS is important to gauge customer loyalty and the health of the brand.

Analyzing funnel engagement and exit rates is also important. Are visitors abandoning on the homepage, product page, category page, or checkout? Looking at these rates by device is also important to get a precise view of where you need to make improvements.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

All three of these priorities are equally important in their own right:

  1. Personalization: At Samsonite, we’ve invested in platforms to help us show more relevant products rather than aggregated products — and recommend these based on individual behavior across the shopping funnel. This year we’re working on more behavior-based content specifically around the type of product they’re looking for. We’re also segmenting customers by gender, and distinguishing between affluent customers versus more value-based customers.
  2. Omnichannel: Customers rarely interact with a single channel today. It is imperative we allow consumers  to begin and end their journey across channels seamlessly. This includes the marketing they receive based on multiple data channels, the ability to order and deliver to and from multiple channels, and flexibility as to where they can return products.
  3. Site performance: To me, it doesn’t matter how great our functionality is, if the customer’s experience on the site is too slow, they will abandon it. You could be throwing all of your money away and investing in all of this great functionality but if the site is too slow, it’s a waste.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

  1. Speed: Think of mobile as a sports car — the faster the better. Customers have no patience on mobile, so you have to be as fast as possible.
  2. Simplify the path to purchase: Put together an experience audit. Using an unbiased set of eyes can be really helpful to make sure your mobile customers have a seamless path to purchase.
  3. Integrating online and offline channels: Businesses with local stores need to show product availability at the local store level and offer convenient in-store pick-up options
    to customers on their mobile.

Roy Rubin: Co-founder of Magento

Roy Rubin is the co-founder and former CEO of Magento. Launched in 2008, the open source Magento eCommerce platform has been enthusiastically embraced by developers and 250,000 merchants, transacting $26B annually. A technologist at heart, Roy’s vision and strategic acumen helped him build a thriving business and ecosystem around the platform. In 2011, Magento was acquired by eBay, Inc., where Roy became a vice president. He continued to lead the Magento business until his departure from eBay in May of 2014.

 

 

has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

I think the customer’s expectations in 2017 and going into 2018 have dramatically changed from a few years ago. Getting products quickly and efficiently is something that is table stakes now. Before, you could wait a few days until the company ships your product, but from a customer experience perspective, you expect to receive the product immediately. Amazon has educated the market on what fast delivery is, and today, if you don’t receive the product as fast as possible, you’re disappointed. This is also true for returns. It needs to be as painless as possible, and you need to be able to do this from any device.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

As a consumer today, I need my browsing and shopping experience to an omnichannel one — consistent anytime, anywhere, on any device. If I start browsing from my iPhone, and then on my iPad, and then move on to my web browser on my Mac, I don’t

want to have to worry about starting new experiences every time I move between these devices. We’re getting better conditioned to having that ubiquity across these devices, but retailers need to continue to work to solve these challenges and create an experience that really is seamless from device to device.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

Companies must continue moving to technologies like Machine Learning and AI to better understand what converts, what funnel customers are coming from, as well as post-transaction experiences, and use this to better personalize marketing by specific customer segments.

Going forward, all of this data needs to be centralized and come through systems. Retailers that acquire smarter data will accelerate their innovation and offer superior experiences to their customers.

Companies must continue moving to Machine Learning and AI to better personalize marketing by specific segments … Retailers that acquire smarter data will accelerate their innovation and offer superior experiences to their customers.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

  1. Creating your own voice in the marketplace to build brand affinity: Customers today can acquire similar products in many places, so building loyalty is never just about the products, it has to be about your brand. What creates affinity for consumers is the way you tell your brand’s story and how well your customers can relate to that story. Differentiation has always been and will continue to be the main priority. This is especially true for brand retailers. If you’re selling your own brand you have to be so good at telling your story and building a narrative that customers can connect with and get excited about. For general-purpose retailers, companies like B&H have done an amazing job at building a community, allowing them to succeed in the face of stiff competition.
  2. Leverage automation to optimize relevance and search: It’s very important to intelligently automate the customer experience so more relevant info is presented upfront and search is better optimized.
  3. Optimize your fulfillment and backend logistics: Fast and simple fulfillment and returns are a prerequisite for customers today, and you need to look at how to make this process more efficient and on par with the market.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

  1. Create a mobile-first, individualized experience: If a mobile customer that arrives has to sort through seemingly tens of thousands of products, they’re going to have an online experience that has much too much friction. Getting the experience right on mobile requires less clutter, a more relevant assortment of products, segmenting specific mobile users and personalizing the experience. Doing this on a per-customer basis is a key technological challenge that a lot of retailers need to meet.
  2. Streamline the mobile checkout experience: Mobile customers are very mission-focused and their attention span more limited, with other apps pushing notifications and competing for their attention. The entire checkout flow needs to be made faster and more efficient. Nobody that’s decided to make a purchase wants to re-enter the same information more than once. This is true on desktop, but it is certainly amplified on mobile.
  3. Reducing friction for mobile payments: This is the most critical pain point at the end of your funnel.
    You have it wrong if you still expect your customers to enter their credit card info today on a mobile device. Look at the experience you get with Apple Pay on mobile compared to having to take out your credit card and start punching in numbers on your smartphone. These are two very different experiences: One is completely painless, the other is very painful.It’s imperative for online retailers to reduce the friction in this process.

Kristen Montella Taganashi: Global Vice President — Ecommerce & Digital Marketing, Claire’s

Ms. Taganashi leads the transformation of the digital experience for Claire’s customers in 28 countries worldwide. She is an omnichannel business leader with more than 17 years’ experience in all facets
of driving online business and optimizing the customer journey, from online to offline. Before joining Claire’s, Kristen headed up eCommerce teams for mass merchants such as Meijer, Kmart, and Shopko.

 

 

has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

Nearly two decades ago, online shopping was more of a novelty, but in the past decade it’s reached the point where it’s not just mainstream, it’s a part of the total shopping experience. And today, customers want their online and physical experiences to be connected and to offer them relevance and convenience on any channel. This means giving them a unified experience online, offline, in your print catalogs and any of your customer touchpoints. They all have to tell a cohesive story and work with each other rather than as separate individual channels.

At Claire’s, creating that omnichannel experience means being able to integrate data within multiple systems so that it can better accommodate multiple channels. We’re working to connect our POS, website platform, and customer service software so they can get a more complete view of each customer. Also related to this is increasing online-to-offline channel convenience, such as displaying store inventory and enabling the customer to buy online and pick up the product in-store.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when
it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

We have a unique demographic at Claire’s in that the average age of our target audience is 10 years old and entirely digital native. Smartphones are nothing new to them, they’ve grown up with one in their hand. They resonate far more with what their friends are saying on social than they do to typical digital advertisements. For us, it’s key to be building that community for them in a digital environment and much of it on mobile. We’re focused on enhancing their mobile journey by understanding how they use their smartphone to interact with our brand on our mobile app and social media channels, so that we can blend this messaging together in a way that makes their shopping experience fun and engages them in a personal way.

Another critical component for us making it more seamless to buy online and pick up items in-store, not only from a cost-savings perspective for us, but also because this is increasingly what our customers want and expect — to choose how and where they want to shop.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

The most important piece of any customer journey is to make sure you have the means of tracking all of the data you need to personalize your interaction with that customer. For example, we’ve used customer behavior data based on product categories and preferences in our email marketing and that’s more than doubled the effectiveness of our campaigns.

70% of our traffic comes from mobile. Optimizing mobile usability and content, including with email and social channels, is paramount. All of our design is done mobile-first and then adapted for desktop instead of the other way around.

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

Enabling offline attribution is critical. Google can now track clicks on paid advertisements and attribute them to that customer’s behavior in-store. That’s a hugely valuable piece of information that executives need to look at, and I really think that’s the transition we’re currently in as an industry. It’s no longer enough to track your online behavior and sales revenue, you need to know and understand clearly how that influences offline behavior and metrics.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

  1. Optimizing the mobile journey: Improving the mobile experience and enabling the user to share that experience and be part of a social network while engaging with your brand.
  2. Monetize your social engagement: This involves taking your users’ engagement on your social channels, making it intuitive and seamless to not only become promoters for your brand, but turn social into a valuable revenue-driving channel.
  3. Omnichannel attribution: Finding out how your customers are interacting with your total brand, from repeat business, from online to offline and vice versa, to cross-channel behavior is paramount so that you can intelligently attribute what methods are actually delivering ROI and make the right decisions with your marketing spend.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

  1. Mobile usability: By far the majority of our traffic, 70 percent, comes from mobile. It is our main channel, and you have only a small amount of space to capture their interest and help them to move forward through your funnel. Usability for all aspects of the experience must be optimized. This also includes the way we approach our email and social channels, as virtually everything needs to be adapted to that compact form factor. Because of this, all of our design is done mobile-first and then adapted for desktop instead of the other way around.
  2. Speed: This essential, especially for our mobile performance. You need to eliminate any barriers to your users and their ability to properly experience your brand online.
  3. Optimize search: This needs to become an enabler for your customers. Expedite their abilities to connect to your brick-and-mortar stores by letting them know where they can find and pick up items they’re searching for in-store. It’s important to send out your push notifications based on geo proximity to your offline stores.

James Thomson: Partner, Buy Box Experts

James Thomson is a partner at Buy Box Experts, a managed services agency supporting brands selling online. Earlier, he served as the business head of Amazon Services, the division of Amazon responsible for recruiting tens of thousands of sellers annually to the Amazon marketplace. In 2015, James co-founded the PROSPER Show, a continuing education conference for large Amazon sellers. In 2017, he published the book “The Amazon Marketplace Dilemma”, designed for brand executives seeking to control their brands on the Amazon marketplace.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. How has the growth of Amazon changed customers’ online shopping needs?

In the United States, most customer product searches — about 50 percent — start on Amazon. Over 30 percent are on search engines where often the first SEO option is, in fact, an Amazon product listing. So whether you are selling directly on Amazon or not, if you are the type of brand that would show up on Amazon, chances are the top online placement for your product is going to be an Amazon product placement and get you more visibility than even your company website.

What do you think eCommerce executives should do when planning their brand presence on the Amazon channel?

There are 3 main components to having a cohesive strategy on Amazon:

  1. A proactive brand management strategy — whether you’re selling directly on Amazon or not: My first priority with any executive is to ask the question: What are you doing as a brand to make sure your content on Amazon is consistent with everything you’ve created for all your other sales channels both online and offline? It’s important to understand: Even if you don’t want your products to be sold
    on Amazon, they’re still going to get sold on Amazon by somebody. So as a brand you need to make sure your content is optimized and at the very least making sure your content is loaded there so that if some unauthorized dealer is selling one of your SKUs, they at least have to match the high-quality content you already have in place.
  2. A distribution strategy for who will (and if necessary, who won’t) be selling your products on Amazon:
    ◦ What are you doing to actively manage distribution on the Amazon channel?
    ◦ Are you going to wholesale Amazon products?
    ◦ Are you going to work through authorized resellers?
    ◦ Is your brand going to become the seller of record?
    ◦ Do you have an effective online reseller policy, and are you prepared to enforce it?

    My first priority with any executive is to ask the question: What are
    you doing as a brand to make sure the content on Amazon
    is consistent with everything you’ve created for all your other sales channels both online and offline?

    |What most brands do is wholesale products on Amazon and hope that everything takes care of itself. But it doesn’t work that way, Amazon aggressively sources products directly or indirectly from the brand, they may re-import product from other countries, and lots of unauthorized sellers will pursue your products and get them up on Amazon and treat them like widgets. So what are you doing as a brand to effectively manage distribution on Amazon? You need to think cohesively and form a strategy for the distribution on that channel.

  3. An advertising strategy that makes sense for your business: Amazon is a sales channel but it’s also an incredibly important advertising channel. It’s easily part of the top 3 with Google and Facebook and yet many brands do not have an Amazon advertising strategy. There are 200 million plus customers on Amazon, so what are you doing to get in front of those customers? It’s hard to turn away a couple hundred million customers. Amazon by far and away has the best shopping cart and the most selection. So you’re far more likely to reach a customer who’s ready to make a purchase if you’re advertising
    on Amazon than if you’re advertising on Facebook or Google.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of the online customer journey should eCommerce executives have as a top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics from the Amazon channel?

There are a two very important metrics for brands looking to maximize bottom-line revenue on Amazon:

  1. Year-over-year bottom-line revenue growth: Tighten up control over your pricing on Amazon so that the products you sell there are at full margin.
  2. Determine what you are prepared to do to drive revenue growth from ad spend on the Amazon channel and make sure you are analyzing and optimizing this regularly to gain that 5-to-1 return on your investment.

Are there any new approaches or technologies businesses should be using to help improve their brand presence on Amazon?

Voice search is steadily growing in importance, the harder question to answer right now is: What is your brand doing to optimize your listings for voice-activated search and make sure your products appear as the number one option?

More and more people today are buying things through Alexa, Echo, Google Home, or other leading voice-activated devices. But right now, when you use voice search, you’re not getting 20 options made available to you. Whether you’re searching for AA batteries or men’s underwear, you’re likely only going to get one search result. Therefore, there’s only one winner in this area, and the rest lose out.

The process to doing this successfully starts with researching what the top voice-activated search terms are, so you can make sure you index really highly and have the best shot to be that product that comes up when people are doing a voice-activated search. You can do this by asking your customers and researching what they are actually asking for when searching for a product. Are they saying ‘AA batteries’? Or are they saying ‘batteries for my wireless mouse’? This can help you come up with many of the best short and long-tail searches you can start with and from there continue to improve.

Voice search is steadily growing in importance, the harder question
to answer right now is: What is your brand doing to optimize your listings for voice-activated search and make sure your products appear as the number one option?

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any specific KPIs on Amazon you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on?

  1. Voice-activated KPIs: a rising and challenging priority: What percentage of your sales comes from voice-activated search? Voice activated search is only going to go up, so figuring out how to capture, analyze, and optimize for this data is going to become both a challenge and priority.
  2. Mobile conversion rates: To find out if how well you’re optimized for mobile search, you need to compare your conversion rates for both mobile and desktops. If the mobile conversion rate is noticeably lower, then you need to examine how you can improve your mobile search experience.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing brand presence and mobile experience for Amazon shoppers?

  1. Optimize your Amazon listings for mobile: Amazon provides you with options such as infographics that can better display product feature and benefits for the mobile form factor, so it’s important to take advantage of those features.
  2. Mobile search: Today around 50 percent of all product searches on Amazon start on mobile. How are you monitoring and ensuring that your Amazon listings are mobile optimized?
  3. Stay in stock on your hero products: Amazon’s search algorithm heavily penalizes products that are out of stock. Hence, it’s critical to stay in stock on key products so your brand doesn’t lose its search ranking after 7 or 30 days of being out of stock.

Ryan Sanders: Product Manager, Build.com

Ryan is a digital product manager at build.com, helping to scale the business from a successful startup to a dominant enterprise. He currently drives the vision for content transmission across the enterprise with specific focus on platform agnostic data storage and extreme deliverability.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

In 2000, Faucets Direct was one of the first companies to sell plumbing products online. We got
to market very early for our space, and that was our initial advantage. In today’s digital world, everybody expects everything to be available online — and not just simple one-off installations. Customers today are shopping for complex projects such as jacuzzi tubs with 20 different configurable options. They’re looking
to organize larger remodels, purchase the products they need, and have them shipped to the job site. Elaborate projects like that can be a very nerve-wracking experience. Often, both the homeowner and the contractor come to us trying to coordinate multiple-room purchases or even a new build, which can be a very stressful and emotional experience for that customer.

We’ve been investing a lot into creating enhanced experiences right at the top of the funnel to help alleviate the anxiety around home remodels and large projects. One way we’re doing this is with our recently launched Augmented Reality (AR) app, where at the planning stage, customers can actually see how a faucet and all
of its configurations look like and function in your kitchen. We’re constantly adding more products to this
AR app and expect demand for these types of experiences to increase dramatically year over year.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of your online customer journey is the top priority when it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

Our focus is on this activity at the top of the funnel; helping customers to plan their projects and visualize products ahead of time. With longer-term strategic decisions, we see many customers arriving at the edge of a purchase, and then getting stressed and apprehensive about following through. We’re working to bridge that chasm through agents, project planning tools, AR experiences, and other resources that improve the ways we engage our customers and help us earn their loyalty.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies to help improve the online customer journey?

AR is definitely a big technological feature we’re working on to unlock for our customers. When Google releases its upcoming AR kit, we plan to be available for that release.

We’ve also been using a dynamic repricer that lets us consume competitor data and helps us determine how our products should be priced, both vis-a-vis the competition and even in cases where there isn’t a competitor yet for a particular product. You can also feed it with information based on affinity and similar products, and it enables our merchandising team to be competitive with our multiple large competitors.

Using Namogoo has basically let us remove any distractions taking away from our customer experience in a way that immediately lifted our conversions. What’s been interesting about using this solution is how little it actually crosses my mind — it’s very much been a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of technology. It’s great to have something that’s so easy to use and also delivers significant bottom-line results.

If you’re seeing a lot of one-time purchases on your site, you definitely have areas that can be improved. It’s important to see where you can optimize their experience in order to increase retention and repeat business.


Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

The areas we find most interesting are those longer-term engagements that can impact our customer lifetime value (CLV). In our case, this includes supporting KPIs such as the number of accounts and projects visitors create within our site.

Also, comparing our metrics for returning customers against new customers is one of the more important indicators. How compelling are you versus your competitors? If you’re seeing a lot of one-time purchases on your site, then you definitely have areas that can be improved. It’s important to drill deeper into that and see where you can optimize their experience in order to increase retention and repeat business.

In your opinion what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus
on in 2018?

  1. Marketplace differentiation: In order to compete effectively with Amazon and other marketplaces, it’s vital to find ways to offer unique value to your customers. We heavily invest in our service and support, both pre- and post-sales. We have over 400 agents on-site that are product and project experts. For example, imagine you’re on Amazon and are wondering if this bathtub is going to fit in the hole in the wall you’ve created. Amazon can’t help you with that. We have specialized teams that hold accounts with building professionals to make sure we’re able to provide a level of customer service and support that stands out in the marketplace.
  2. Help customers solve complex problems: Today, building a brand that earns a strong and loyal customer base demands an optimized journey that goes beyond selling. Amazon is trying to be all things to everyone, so they’re not going to reach that level of sophistication. For example, we focus a lot on helping our customers understand what’s required to install a shower system, pick out all of the pieces, and how to configure it so it works with all the plumbing behind the wall. Helping customers simplify these harder problems is extremely important in this space.
  3. Keep pace with technologies: The velocity with which emerging technologies are changing eCommerce is astonishing. Keeping pace with new innovations ensures a more seamless and contextual experience for your customers while enhancing all of the touchpoints that help lift business metrics.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

    1. Simplicity is king on mobile: In today’s fast-paced digital world, everyone is constantly in motion. They have one eye on their phone and are often multi-tasking or distracted by life. You need to be as succinct as possible with your mobile content and allow your customers to move quickly and seamlessly through your web pages in the simplest and clearest manner possible. It makes no sense to have long, flowery product descriptions on mobile. Streamlining these descriptions made an impact for us. People are window shopping on their mobile, so you need to make the images as large and unobstructed as possible.

You need to be as succinct as possible with your mobile content … Streamlining these descriptions made an impact for us. People are window shopping on their mobile, so you need to make the images as large and unobstructed as possible.

  1. Reduce friction at checkout with instant payment solutions: Our customers have responded positively to the addition of Apple Pay and it’s easy to see why. At this point, there shouldn’t be any reason why your payment method isn’t the quickest one available for your customers since this is one of the most critical factors at the end of the funnel.
  2. Continuously research customer needs: This goes for both your mobile and desktop experience. Digital marketing and eCommerce professionals can sometimes lose touch with dynamics that are best captured  by engaging your customers and incentivizing feedback. Stop trying to figure out your customers while inside your workspace. Instead, go straight to the source. Gaining a first-hand perspective can help you improve their experience in ways you otherwise wouldn’t be able to identify.

Chemi Katz: Co-founder & CEO, Namogoo

Chemi is co-founder and CEO of Namogoo, a pioneering Customer Hijacking Prevention technology enabling businesses to preserve a distraction-free online experience and enhance eCommerce metrics. Chemi
is a visionary and serial entrepreneur who has been building disruptive technologies in the security, commerce and advertising spaces for over 17 years. Prior to co-founding Namogoo, Chemi was General Manager
of DoubleVerify Israel, and co-founded Reissod and Seapai — a B2C eCommerce solution which reached over 2.5 million active users.

 

 

Ecommerce has progressed a lot in the past few years and so have customer needs. From your experience, how have customer online shopping needs changed? How are you taking these changes into account when planning the customer journey?

With all of the technological strides made in recent years, customers today are expecting their online experience to match the personalized experience they’re used to offline. Websites have mainly focused on expanding their product selection. The unfortunate flipside to this is that it makes it more difficult for customers to find what they’re looking for and increases the likelihood that they leave your site to search elsewhere.

To convert website visitors more effectively, organizations need to make optimizing their recommendation engine a top priority. Customers want to browse, but they also want you to suggest personalized offers that help save them time. All of their favorite social media platforms already do this and it’s become the new normal for them. The key is continuing to incorporate innovations to develop more contextual recommendations and better engage customers. Regular testing in this area should also be a top priority.

In 2018 and beyond, what part of the online customer journey should be top priority when
it comes to improving customer experience and business metrics?

Underneath all of the resources businesses are investing in to enhance the online experience, it’s important to make sure that experience is actually what your customers get to see at the end of the day. The experience for too many online visitors today is interrupted by invasive content and unauthorized product recommendations that show up throughout their online journey. These experiences direct traffic back out to competitor promotions, hurting conversions and brand loyalty. It’s important to make use of innovations available today to stop threats like these from undermining your eCommerce investments. This also protects all of the work your organization is doing to deliver that quality experience in an unfettered way.

Whether it’s through your promotions or organic search, the first website page a customer lands on is the most critical. So it’s crucial to make sure you’ve mapped out the optimal journey for all of these scenarios. Journey mapping for your homepage for a handful of campaigns is no longer sufficient. It needs to be applied
as closely as possible to your users’ behavior with the goal of boosting their time on page, number of pageviews and reducing bounce rates. Every segment is different, so the only way to find the most optimal approach for a specific type of customer is to constantly A/B test each method you’re using.

Another very important area is page performance, specifically page load times. With competitors just one click away, customers don’t have the patience to wait for your store to load — especially on mobile.
In many organizations, different departments turn to solutions that improve metrics and aid decision-making
(i.e. marketing analytics, attributions, A/B testing tools etc.). While these tools usually deliver as promised, they also come with a burden on site performance. It’s important to clearly understand the impact of third-party services running on your site so you can manage them more effectively.

All the resources you put into providing customers with a seamless journey are only worth it if they are experiencing what you designed. Preventing unauthorized ads is important to ensure
a distraction-free online journey.

Have you identified any new approaches or technologies that are helping online businesses improve their online customer journey?

Users today are looking for the personal touch. Technologies that help mimic human behavior can help, such as AI-enabled tools that let customers search online the same way they’d ask a question to a salesperson in the store and allow you to respond with more relevant product offers.

At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach — the right method for one company may not necessarily be the right fit for yours. The key is to embrace the philosophy of constantly A/B testing different approaches. Moreover, you need to understand how each test you’re running correlates with the specific KPI you’re measuring. There are still too many cases where this is not done accurately.

Since the beginning of eCommerce, executives have mainly focused on website visitors, conversion rates, and average order value (AOV). Are there any new metrics you feel eCommerce executives need to focus on that are impacting the bottom line?

While these three metrics are the core of any eCommerce business, it is important to understand the underlying metrics that lead to these, such as your page load time and site speed. Aligning your organization priorities around these leading performance indicators will help contribute towards improving those all-important metrics.

In your opinion, what are the top 3 priorities that eCommerce executives need to focus on in 2018?

    1. Protect your online customer journey: All the investment and resources you put into removing friction and providing your customers with a seamless journey throughout your site are only worth it if they are experiencing that journey the way you designed it. Unfortunately, there is a host of unauthorized malware-driven ads that are injected on the consumer-side which effectively distract and divert your visitors away from your site to competitor offers. Using technology that can prevent these threats from skimming your visitors is important to ensure you are maximizing your earned traffic and converting them into loyal customers.
    2. Gain control of your site performance: Adding third-party services to optimize your journey, can also add overhead that can either slow down your site, result in errors or introduce other issues. You need to have an effective means of checking all these services and their impact on your site, as well as being able to locate and remove services that you don’t actually need but are running and causing performance issues. Companies need to increase visibility into all of these services and manage them in order to optimize their journey without adversely affecting their business metrics.

At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach — the right method for one company may not necessarily be the right fit for yours. The key is to embrace the philosophy of constantly
A/B testing different approaches.

  1. Accelerate efficiency at the bottom of the funnel: Once you have the customer engaged, it’s critical to make the checkout process as easy and quick as possible. Amazon set a new standard for this, and eCommerce sites should look to them as an example. Mobile purchases represent the majority of Amazon purchases, yet they’re still a relative minority for most other websites by comparison. This is a direct reflection of the gap in the checkout experience between the two.

With mobile transactions reaching record highs in 2018, what are your top 3 tips for optimizing the customer online journey on mobile devices?

Mobile form factors require taking many of the methods you’re using on your site to another level of efficiency and customization. These include:

  1. Understanding what impacts your mobile site speed and performance and adjusting to deliver that reliability to the customer — this is the basic requirement you must have in place in order to allow all of your other optimization efforts to shine.
  2. Creating a seamless flow for the mobile user and helping them move through the customer journey with as little effort as possible.
  3. Making checkout and payments on mobile the easiest part of the journey. With the market solutions available today, it’s easy to have a one-touch payment process. There isn’t any reason why an online retailer shouldn’t already be able to deliver this feature.
Ohad Hagai
Ohad Hagai

Ohad Hagai is SVP Marketing at Namogoo. He leads marketing, communications and digital strategy at Namogoo, and brings a wealth of experience in eCommerce. An MBA graduate from Duke University, Ohad still gets Final Four fever every spring.