Transform and grow, by Publicis Media’s Taher Jawadwala

Publicis Media’s senior manager, consultancy, Taher Jawadwala examines key trends in e-commerce and what they mean for businesses in the coming years.

E-commerce in the region is projected to grow by a staggering 57 per cent to reach $25bn by 2025. Consumers’ digital adoption was always fuelling this growth, and the pandemic acted as a further catalyst. According to a recent Kearney report the average annual spend per user on e-commerce in KSA and the UAE has jumped by about 30 per cent.

Most organisations are betting big on this channel to drive incremental business. However, this needs to be done while keeping a customer-centric mindset and staying updated with the latest trends in this ever-evolving landscape. Otherwise, the rate of failure is super high – almost 90 per cent of e-commerce businesses fail within the first 120 days.

Digital-first mindset

According to Gartner, 78 per cent of marketers consider digital transformation an essential part of their company’s growth. They say the biggest challenges come from within the organisation. There are two aspects to consider.

Firstly, senior leadership commitment is the most important requirement to succeed in this ever-evolving digital commerce landscape. Clear vision and commitment towards excelling in digital commerce needs to cascade from the senior management with the right level of digital upskilling and learning provided to the entire organisation.

Secondly, digital consultants who can stitch cross-functional expertise are vital. The biggest challenge anticipated by organisations is building a more synergistic relationship across the organisation to better communicate the digital marketing vision. Hence there is a massive requirement for talent that can think and act multidimensionally to translate digital to business goals.

Data is no longer the new oil – first-party data is

As per Emarketer’s recent CX study, 42 per cent of organisations plan to increase their spending on collection and use of first-party data due to the coming changes to third-party cookies and identifiers. Most marketers are currently focusing on how to capture first-party customer data. We have seen an increase in investments behind CRM, SMS initiatives, leverage of offline data, loyalty programmes and customer data platforms, to name a few. However, the key challenge and priority remains to be getting the most out of this data and make strategic and business sense to design the real experiences consumers are seeking rather than just map their behaviours across marketing touchpoints.

This is critical to deliver and maximise the return on marketing investment, leading to greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. Over 90 per cent of organisations feel they have an opportunity to improve in this respect.

Customer experience über alles

Customers’ paths to purchase are no longer linear, and neither are their expectations of communications across channels. In 2020, nearly 40 per cent of customers tried new brands or retailers, with almost a third claiming to continue with the newly tried brand or product. Digital commerce is levelling the playing field for most organisations. Hence, today more than ever there is a clear need to deliver relevant and personalised communication to gain higher engagement. Customers today are information-savvy and time-deprived. To grab their attention, we need to reach them in their own language and world, at the right time, and with the right message. Advances in contextual AI and machine learning martech solutions can help deliver relevant messages to consumers using dynamic signals like location, weather, time of day, etc., helping generate 44 per cent higher click-through rates on average.

The journey to drive incremental business should also be personalised and frictionless. Almost 40 per cent of customers will never visit a digital asset if the experience is not optimised for their channel and needs. On the other hand, according to website creation service Wix.com, 91 per cent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands providing a personalised shopping experience; stores offering a live chat feature get between eight and 12 times higher revenues; and having more than three frictionless payment options means 39 per cent higher revenues.

Measure, learn and evolve

Marketing attribution is becoming ever more important to marketing success. 56 per cent of marketers believe attribution is important, as it results in improving the efficiency in the sales funnel, and predictions expect these numbers to grow further.

Marketers need to keep their testing hats on to deliver the right creatives with the right calls to action to influence the right audiences in the right moment on the right channels supported with seamless personalised journeys to get the most of their marketing investments. This can only be understood by constantly evaluating the most effective consumer path to purchase.

To sum it up, consumers on digital have a different mindset, with diverse needs. To reap maximum benefits, marketers need to deliver a seamless personalised experience while being relevant at every stage of the purchase journey, which demands businesses both to commit to transformation and to invest in it.