This year, there was one theme that would have been particularly hard to escape, no matter which talks you attended: Experience. Whether it was in the context of the customer, the merchant or the developer, it seems that ‘experience’ has overtaken ‘conversion rate’ as the hottest buzzword for ecommerce. And, if you know the industry, that really is saying something.
In this article, we summarise some of the key points and discussions centred around experience and why it is so important to get right in a world where everything is just a click away.
The day started with a strong Keynote from Peter Sheldon, Senior Director of Commerce Strategy at Adobe. Peter outlined how COVID-19 has moved the ecommerce industry forward 3 years, to where forecasts predicted it would be in 2024.
Peter painted the picture of a new normal which is led by Digital Native Vertical Brands, such as Casper and Glossier. These are hugely disruptive, vertically integrated brands that are characterised by their ‘manic obsession’ with customer experience. Their physical stores are no longer about selling products, but about providing an unforgettable experience for the customer. Taking the example of high-end outerwear brand, Canada Goose, Peter explained how whilst you aren’t able to purchase any clothing in one of their experience stores, what you can do is stand in a ‘cold room’ at -12C wearing one of their snow jackets. Or you can take a 45 minute nap in a Casper Dreamery, but if you want a mattress, you will have to order it online. Whilst these experience stores aren’t exactly a realistic benchmark for your average ecommerce merchant, it certainly indicates the direction that retail is heading for.
In a later talk, Daniel Payton from Klarna urged that merchants must do more to stand out in an ‘attention economy’, where consumers are adept at blocking out disinteresting information in favour of fun, frictionless experiences. This particularly applies to Gen-Z, who spend around 10 hours per day and online and are set to account for 40% of total online sales in 2020. Daniel advises merchants to adapt and drive loyalty through offering rich experiences and making every digital interaction count. In addition, brands should communicate their values and mission strongly to appeal to the rising popularity of ‘conscious consumption’ among shoppers.
As customers’ desire for immersive experiences grows, it is ever more important for the mechanics of an ecommerce site to blend seamlessly into the background, offering centre stage to innovative and unique functionality. In other words, the basic customer journey should be frictionless and require little attention from the user.
According to a presentation by Klevu, a ‘high quality product discovery experience’ is essential to avoid sending potential customers straight over to Amazon. Speakers Amy Marks and Ian Scarr highlighted how Klevu enhances site search to accurately guide customers to their desired product. One example is through using Natural Language Processing, which analyses search queries to better understand customers’ intent. For example, if a user types ‘chair under £200’, they would be shown search results for ‘chair’ but with the price filter applied. What this subtle functionality takes away in effort for the user, it gives back in invaluable customer satisfaction.
In addition to site search, the checkout is an area which should always operate seamlessly. James Grainger from Checkout.com shared how merchants should be redefining their checkout to reduce data input for the customer and empower them to pay how they want. James advises merchants to focus on limiting checkout elements, stating that whilst the optimum is 12, the average is almost double at 23. According to a 7 year report by the Baymard institute, achieving the correct checkout flow could lead to a 35% increase in conversions. Whilst many attendees will have been aware that the checkout is a crucial part of the customer journey, this talk really emphasised just how much.
The Magento Experience
Turning the attention away from the customer, many talks of the day centred around enhancing the day-to-day experience of the Magento community. The event was attended by developers, agencies, merchants and solution providers, and each group will have left with an abundance of new tips and information that will improve their experience of the platform.
The day was underpinned with several fantastic updates from Adobe. Those who attended John Stockton’s Magento Product Roadmap were privy to the exciting features and innovation that Adobe has in store for the coming months, including new B2B capabilities and expanded support for headless commerce and omnichannel. Other more specific sessions covered areas such as Magento Extensions, Adobe Sensei, digital transformations and requirement gathering. With so much to look forward to, the future is looking bright for Magento.
Finally, in the face of a global pandemic, one experience that was not compromised was of Meet Magento UK itself. In the face of a global pandemic, organisers did an excellent job in digitising every element of the event, including chat-networking, a virtual expo and even lunchtime entertainment. Hats off to the Meet Magento team for delivering a high-quality, digital event which brought the Magento community together at a pivotal point for ecommerce. And all for a good cause, too.