September 19, 2018 / BY Michael Mason

The Future of Experience-Driven Commerce Executive Luncheon Event: 5 Things We Learned CATEGORIES: RETAIL STRATEGY

Last week, eWave held an Executive Luncheon in partnership with Salesforce, Purecomm and Stripe, where 50 of APAC’s commerce leaders came together to discuss ‘The Future of Experience-driven Commerce’.

Held in Hong Kong’s Park Lane Pullman Hotel, the event kicked off with two highly insightful keynotes. Marc Gagne, APAC Vice President at Salesforce Commerce Cloud, first shared how Artificial Intelligence is empowering the world’s leading retailers to continuously innovate in the complex, consumer-driven world.

Bringing 15 years experience in Strategy, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, we also heard from guest speaker Kai Hong, Chairman and Partner of JINGdigital, the leading digital marketing automation company in China. Kai discussed Social CRM & Social Commerce, and how emerging technologies are changing the game of Retail Experience in China.

These keynotes were followed by a panel discussion, featuring Arthur So (Director - Hong Kong, eWave Commerce), Charlie Bodycote (Managing Director, Purecomm) and Piruze Sabuncu (Head of Stripe HK/SEA).

Here’s five things we learned...

Create channel-less customer experiences

Organisations need to create an engaging customer shopping experience for their customers, and focus on connecting all channels to a personalised end-to-end product experience, beyond pure eCommerce. Silos create friction, and customers now expect to be recognised as a single entity, regardless of whether they purchase online or offline.

“We no longer talk about multi-channel or omni-channel, because today, channels are less relevant” said Arthur So, “shoppers are now less concerned about whether they’re interacting with a physical or digital touchpoint, they just want easy access to the products and services they need, anywhere and any time, with a consistent experience and level of service”, he added.

“Instead of focussing on technology in order to create a good customer experience, we turn the process on its head - first identifying the customer pain points, and then working with technology partners to answer those must win moments. The customer should always be your starting point”, he added.

Further, sophisticated order management is vital to streamlining experiences across digital and physical channels. With click and collect for example, customers regularly switch channels and they expect the brands they shop with to align with their behaviour.

“Traditionally, there has always been some level of frustration in the shopping experience around delivery and returns”, said Charlie Bodycote of Purecomm, “What we’re seeing is an increased demand for flexibility with options such as click and collect.”

Mobile, mobile, mobile

Organisations that create digital touchpoints without a mobile-first approach will find it increasingly difficult to stay relevant in the experience-driven digital economy, according to our panelists. The shift to mobile-first commerce by organisations like Salesforce Commerce Cloud is based on global trends in shopping behaviours, but it is particularly relevant to the Asia region.

“Every single customer that buys from Salesforce Commerce Cloud, gets access to a new mobile-first reference architecture. This was a major investment for us, as we believe it’s the only way forward. We’ve minimised clicks, removed all friction, provided more opportunities for personalisation and context, and ultimately improved speed to purchase.” said Marc Gagne.

Focus on frictionless

Organisations need to become obsessive about providing seamless transactional experiences for their customers, all the way through the end-to-end digital experience. Expectations for frictionless experiences are on the rise, and loyalty is quickly abandoned if your competitor is able to offer a better, more fluid experience.

Payments should facilitate that experience rather than hinder it, according to Piruze Sabuncu: “Companies are spending millions of dollars on marketing, only to lose customers with painful checkout procedures on the last mile - just one additional second of an online payment form loading can result in a 40% drop in conversion to payment.”

Friction in a digital experience can damage a brand’s reputation in seconds. A customer might not know what responsive design is, for example, but they will know a good experience when they see one.

Once an organisation disrupts a category, changing behaviours and setting the bar of expectation for a frictionless experience, consumers quickly become intolerant of the next best option. “Taxi customers wouldn’t think twice about producing cash at the end of a journey before Uber, now it seems archaic”, noted Charlie Bodycote.

Leverage Marketplaces & WeChat as marketing channels

Organisations should embrace and manage these touchpoints accordingly by focussing on building customer relationships and loyalty, while leveraging a social-ready CRM to gain a holistic view of omnichannel campaigns for real outcomes.

“Marketplaces have such momentum, as that’s where the audience is, but know that you won’t own the customer relationship”, said Marc Gagne, “when a company wants to make an impact in China and increase brand recognition at speed, marketplaces are phenomenal channels. As a short term play, this can drive success, but ultimately every brand that I work with that is international, once they have the awareness they will look to move their customers to their own channel, and take back control of the relationship.

When helping Western brands set up their presence in China, Marc also noted that there a lot of important considerations when it comes to WeChat: “We’re seeing an increasing amount of investment in WeChat, but this usually comes after the organisation has set up their marketplace and .com presence. We’re also seeing a deeper and deeper investment and engagement in the self contained WeChat experience. The platform can be its own online channel, shopping, payments, all in one - but how you staff this, who you partner with to enable this, these are the questions we get asked all the time.”

Embrace Mainland China’s digital ecosystem, but also don’t forget about other regions.

Organisations should learn from emerging retail concepts, partner with best-in-class technologies, and continually evolve in order to stay relevant to experience-driven and digitally-mature Chinese consumers.

Chinese users want to buy internationally, but they also want to purchase using payment methods they are used to - AliPay and WeChat Pay for example - but it’s also important to consider other regions in Asia.

“When we talk about the Asian market we talk about many different regions. Each region has their own shopping habits, and each have their own platforms. When it comes to creating engaging customer experiences, these differences cannot be ignored”, noted Arthur So.

Piruze Sabuncu added, “If you invest in the right technology from the beginning of the project, you can create an experience where the right integrations, currencies and payment methods show for the right region. My suggestion would be to invest in technologies that can help you become more agile.”

A word of thanks

eWave would like to thank the event’s co-sponsors, Salesforce, Purecomm and Stripe; our keynote speakers, Marc Gagne and Jai Hong; our panelists, Arthur So, Piruze Sabuncu and Charlie Bodycote; and the attendees who provided invaluable insights into experience-driven commerce.

eWave’s next event will be announced very soon, stay tuned for updates.

September 19, 2018 / BY Michael Mason