Forget Personalised Packaging - In Ecommerce, Technology Comes First

Posted by Ivan Mazour 17 Jul 13

shutterstock_194951240Hi - I'm Ivan Mazour and I'm the CEO and Founder of Ometria. I've been blogging for a few years now, mainly about the lessons I've learned while building companies, but also about strategies and approaches that can help you win in life. In the Ometria Blog I want to take the same approach and apply it to ecommerce. This is the purpose and vision behind Ometria - we want to help e-commerce business owners and CEOs build absolutely world-class companies. Pioneers like Jeff Bezos showed us what was possible when it comes to customer experience, and with the technology available to today's online retailers, there is no reason why smaller, more focused companies cannot compete with Amazon on this front - and win.

Technology is often seen as the polar opposite of human interaction - a cold, calculating tool to be used to automate tasks or extract profits. In age-old industries, which retail is certainly one of, technology is seen not as a solution to a multitude of problems, but as an additional unfortunate, but necessary, hassle. In reality, the opposite is true. Amazon spend 3% of their $61 billion in annual revenue on new technology, and regularly attribute their success to this strategy. Although they might appear to some to be a soulless multinational conglomerate, the reality is that as consumers we cannot imagine a better online shopping experience. From the selection of goods, to the convenience of the checkout process, the entire journey is effortless and keeps us coming back. Few smaller retailers are able to match this. The ones that do, however, understand that it is the underlying technology, and the company's understanding of how to deploy it, that allows them to deliver this perfect customer experience.

Many companies now are focused on training their staff to use CRM systems and remember people's names for when they call, or on creating the perfect personalized packaging with a handwritten note, and these are all great ways of building a relationship with their customers, and creating loyalty in a competitive industry. But in reality, none of this is important if the customers have to navigate a seven page checkout process, or enter credit card details into an unoptimised mobile site. The personalized packaging won't even be seen if the customers haven't been sent the right offers to get them to come to the site, if they haven't been presented with the right products while browsing, and if their overall shopping experience hasn't been entirely immaculate.

With every year, the expectations of knowledgeable customers put ever greater burdens on online retailers. 2013 brought us same-day delivery, both in the UK and in the US. The logistics of this are incredibly complex, but there is an additional element that retailers need to take into account and measure - the delivery on promise. A promise which sets a retailer apart from others is only a competitive advantage if that promise is kept. The beautiful packaging won't make a difference if the company isn't aware that their shipping provider is failing to deliver the parcels within the same day - as they promised. 

The strategy to measure and analyse this information, in a holistic way which also incorporates returns and the segmentation of the customer base, should be the first step in implementing something like same-day delivery, as it should be when implementing any major improvement. Instead of rushing ahead, as most e-commerce retailers are tempted to do, successful CEOs should get their team to lay down an analytics-based foundation that lets them measure exactly what is working, and what isn't, and to use this knowledge to drive a never-ending stream of marginal improvements that allows them to consistently beat their competition, and above all, to provide their customers with an unmatched experience.
This blog is called "How to Win at E-commerce". I believe there is one clear answer to this question - to accept and adopt the latest technologies, to place them at the forefront of the business, and to use them to measure, iterate, and improve the experience for each customer.

I, together with the Ometria team, look forward to being with you as you do that.

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