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E-Commerce in the Age of ‘i’ [Webinar Recap]

Retail expert Gary Hawkins reveals how Amazon sellers must leverage new innovations and customer centricity to provide personalized shopping experiences. By Natalie Taylor August 7, 2019

Since its inception in 1995, Amazon’s mission has remained the same: “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Amazon has not only delivered on that mission, but in doing so has revolutionized the online shopping experience and consequently shaped consumers’ expectations for personalization. 

The exponential growth of technology, coupled with insights from copious customer data, has enabled today’s world to become increasingly customized to each individual consumer. This is particularly apparent in the digital world, where product recommendations, coupons, voice-activated shopping, one-click purchases, delivery speed, and more are all tailored to the individual. 

What does this digital revolution imply for retailers? How can Amazon sellers and brand manufacturers leverage these technological innovations and shopper metrics to provide personalized experiences that drive customer loyalty and retention

In this webinar, retail and technology expert Gary Hawkins, founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail and Technology (CART), unpacks the gravity of the changing e-commerce landscape, or what he calls “the Age of ‘i’” — an era in which retailers and brand manufacturers must leverage new technology capabilities in conjunction with a customer-centric approach to best deliver on consumers’ expectations for personalized shopping experiences. 

The Power of Exponential Growth

To begin, Hawkins outlines the exponential growth of technology, its forecast for continued growth, and how that will impact both the way retailers go to market and the way consumers navigate the path to purchase.

By the year 2000, he says, the processing power of a $1,000 computer was equivalent to the brain of an insect. By 2015, that processing power was equivalent to the brain of a mouse and, five years later, that $1,000 computer will harness the processing power equivalent to the brain of a human. Within the next 25 to 30 years, experts project that processing power to grow to the equivalence of the combined brains of every human being on the planet — an estimated 9 billion people. 

It is the increasingly rapid, cheaper processing power that is fueling the growing use and accessibility of artificial intelligence, Hawkins says, which is the fundamental core of personalized marketing. That plus the arrival of 5G cellular technology, augmented reality, and more are transforming the world around us, shaping the way consumers engage with brands and make purchases. Gartner Inc. says 100 million consumers will shop via augmented reality in-store and online by 2020. 

In the tsunami of disruptive innovation, there remains one constant: the customer.

State of the Art Personalization

What does this mean for the future of personalized marketing? What resources or technologies are available to you to ensure your customer is engaged and inspired to not only make an initial purchase but to also keep coming back for future purchases? 

The first step toward answering each of these questions relies on your comprehensive understanding of the customer journey and ensuring that your brand or product is properly represented throughout each stage. For this, Amazon sellers ought to take a note from Amazon itself — anticipate consumers’ needs and proactively provide a solution before they even realize they need or want one. 

The rise of artificial intelligence has given marketers access to a real-time view into the shopper’s intent through deep integration into digital touchpoints, Hawkins explains. For instance, retailers can now determine which products or brands a shopper has recently searched for, which digital coupons the shopper has clicked on, or what types of product attributes the shopper is most interested in. 

By leveraging this information — from human data, product data and past purchase data to location data, and more — marketers have the power to build a shopper profile to inform a customized marketing initiative that not only considers historical purchase data but is also contextually relevant to the individual and can anticipate his or her future wants and needs.

A New World View

To effectively achieve this, Hawkins emphasizes the importance of measuring as much data as possible that can relate to the customer and then embedding those metrics into management and financial reporting to inform decision-making throughout your business, with the ultimate mission of focusing on the customer and maximizing each customer’s lifetime value. 

As an e-commerce seller, you should ask yourself how every decision made helps your company to acquire new customers, grow existing customers, and better retain your customers. To help inform these decisions, Amazon has introduced a set of new metrics called “new-to-brand” to help you identify strategies that can drive customer acquisition and efficient business growth on the marketplace. With these metrics, sellers and brands on Amazon for the first time have visibility into customer loyalty and acquisition data.

These metrics distinguish whether an ad-attributed purchase was made by a repeat customer or a “new” customer, which Amazon defines as “one buying a brand’s product on Amazon for the first time over the prior year.” 

This data is currently available for Sponsored Brands ads for brand-registered sellers through Seller Central, vendors through Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon DSP users. The metrics allow you to measure orders and sales of your products generated from first-time customers of your brand on Amazon so you can better measure and optimize in-flight campaigns and plan future marketing strategies to drive customer acquisition and brand loyalty.

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About the Author

Natalie Taylor is the content manager at Feedvisor, where she oversees and executes on the company's content marketing strategy. Prior to her work at Feedvisor, she wrote for a B2B supermarket magazine, focusing on merchandising and marketing trends in the grocery industry.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, Hawkins outlines the five components of the “Age of ‘i’” — individual, intelligence, integration, immersive, and innovation. By understanding the individual consumer and the customer journey, leveraging key data metrics, and integrating that data into contextually relevant digital touchpoints to each individual consumer, you will be able to effectively attract new customers, expand your customer base, and retain existing customers, as well as drive sales growth and long-term profitability.

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