The landscape of eCommerce may have changed drastically over the past 18 months. It may have seen unparalleled growth. It may have had to confront its own inadequacies as a result. And it may even have seen new developments we’re only now comprehending the full scope and potential of. But there’s one particular area of retail which eCommerce has yet to fully duplicate: customer experience.
If the pandemic forced us to accommodate new guidelines for social distancing, digital retail was already accustomed to them by its very nature. But humans are innately social creatures—and that’s reflected as much in our shopping habits as in our personal ones.
Global consumer online sales reached $4.29 Trillion in 2020. And that number is only expected to rise, even as brick and mortar retail is slated to rebound over the next two years. But the human element is distinctly sacrificed in digital retail by its very nature as well. Can eCommerce learn to reimagine itself as a more intimate and altogether human experience?
Personalization Strategies vs Automation
Digital marketplaces may have one particular strength over branded eCommerce sites: the ability to wield personalized recommendations driven by data. And it’s a potent strength. A recent survey from Adobe found that 67 percent of reported consumers found personalized content to be influential when reviewing a product or brand.
But those personalization strategies are driven by automation, relegating the person to an interplay between an algorithm and a consumer. They lack connectivity. They lack relatability. And they lack authenticity. And to make matters worse, they don’t address the growing concern over the potential misuse of private data; a concern that prompted Google to announce their recent decision to phase out the use of third party data tracking cookies.
A successful customer experience in eCommerce is based on reestablishing that personal connectivity. It means portraying your brand in a more realistic and intimate light. That doesn’t mean that programmatic advertising strategies won’t work. In fact, quite the opposite. But it means learning to generate more human content alongside algorithmic data. It means engagement with your audience. And it means replicating successful content strategies based on human insight—not AI driven recommendations.
Video Content As the Key to Authenticity
There’s no strategy better suited to reestablishing that sense of personal connectivity than video content. If the digital landscape is marked by a limited sense of nuance and dimension, video narratives restore a human dimension to an otherwise confusing sea of noise, hyperbole and static images.
The key to that human dimension is authenticity. And authenticity means accessibility. It’s no use to spend thousands of dollars on an impressive video content campaign if your audience can’t relate to the human element behind the brand. But that relatability has to be driven by your own niche, not a generic universal appeal.
Recent estimates indicate that 80 percent of all global online traffic will be video by the end of 2021. And you need to make certain your video breaks through an increasingly overcrowded market of content. Ask yourself the following questions:
Does my video reflect my audience—or does it reflect a limited understanding of my audience?
Is my video based on a nuanced and multi-faceted emotional narrative?
Does my video tell a story or is it an exercise in self indulgence?
Will my video still be relevant six months from now? Five years from now?
Does my video speak to a shared human experience?
Let Your Brand Be More Than a Product
The future of branding in eCommerce depends on two distinct factors: inspiration and problem-solving. Unfortunately, most brands think merely of today. They fail to inspire because they fail to blaze any new paths. They distinguish themselves solely by their indistinctiveness. And as a result, they don’t provide any new solutions—solutions which could very well outlive their brand itself.
Successful branding takes risks. Jeff Bezos knew this when he started Amazon in 1994. He saw there was a market for retail on the still burgeoning internet. And as a result of that risk, he distinguished Amazon as more than just a service. More than just a brand. It became a symbol. And symbols are one of the driving forces behind all human experience.
Your brand may not blaze new trails. At least, not yet. But it can distinguish itself by allowing it to discover new solutions to old problems. It can distinguish itself by inspiring, both in its marketing and in its very function. And it can distinguish itself by one key element that’s missing from its competitors.
The human element.
Color More Lines provides white glove, global account management of your eCommerce platforms so mission-driven companies can focus on new product development, branding and growth strategies. Find out more at Color More Lines.