Technology helps replicate in-store customer experience online

November 14, 2018 16:51
A survey finds that only one percent of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations in terms of online experience. Photo: Reuters

As an increasing number of consumers prefer to seek product information on the internet and do their shopping online, being able to deliver a good digital customer experience has become a key to business success.

Meanwhile, research shows that while most companies think their websites are doing a good job in reaching out to customers and communicating with them, most customers think otherwise.

Failing to get a proper answer, difficulties in finding the information needed, and not getting a prompt response are some of the sure ways to upset customers when they visit a website.

In another survey, 86 percent of buyers said they will pay more for a better customer experience, but only one percent of the customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.

As such, brand owners are investing in better tools and technologies that can help them analyze customers’ questions, needs and concerns when interacting with them digitally, and then responding in a more helpful way.

Baby food maker Danone Nutricia is one brand that has embraced this trend.

By adopting the technology of Sitecore, which specializes in web content and digital customer experience management software, Nutricia, through its website, is able to engage with customers effectively.

A mother may have many questions about herself and her baby, ranging from diet and nutrition to feeding and exercise. Those questions change with the stage of pregnancy and as the baby grows.

By tracking all interactions and tying them together, Nutricia’s website becomes "intelligent" enough to tell what stage the mother is at and provide relevant information.

“For example, if a mother two months pregnant returns to the site two months later, the system will know the mother is now four months pregnant,” and tailors the content accordingly, explains Tomoo Abe, Sitecore marketing director for Japan and Greater China.

Greetings and language can also be personalized. If customers have made a purchase recently, the system can greet them with a thank you message. By looking at the IP address, the system can see the location of the customer and choose the right language.

The more the system knows about the customer through multiple interactions, the more personalized it can become.

Sitecore also helps household hardware chain Bunnings Warehouse design its webpage to make it easier for customers to find quickly what they need.

Featuring real employee photos, product offering highlights, as well as useful DIY tips, the site aims to “replicate” the experience a customer would have if they visit a physical store, said Mark Troselj, Sitecore’s senior vice president for Asia-Pacific and Japan.

Overwhelming customers with information is meaningless, he said, adding that a good website should provide the “right information” and “easy access”.

Unlike face-to-face interaction, engaging with customers through a digital interface can be a lot more challenging, given the lack of visual clues, for instance. But the increasing sophistication of machine learning is making it possible for websites to integrate different data bases, identify and build customer profiles, and deliver more relevant and individualized experiences.

As new devices such as smart speakers and wearables become popular, the content management system can be extended to these new channels, enabling brands to send promotion coupons or offer product information to customers on a real-time basis, Troselj said.

Not only limited to consumer products, such a technology also works well in a B2B setting, he said. For example, a website facing distributors can be customized to reflect a particular distributor’s procurement history.

Companies can also use the technology to streamline the information on its site.

A big company like Fujitsu has a lot of employees and business partners, all of whom rely heavily on the company’s online system for information.

A platform would definitely be very useful if it could tell who has searched for what, how often they are doing it, whether they are able to get the answers they seek, what the most popular questions are, what sort of information are being viewed most, etc.

Fujitsu is using Sitecore software to refine its search engine and help users quickly get what they need, save time and boost cost-effectiveness.

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EJ Insight writer