Timeliness and Tone – Two New Digital KPI’s

By Simon Richards, SVP Customer Experience at Tryzens

How many parallels are out there in history for the sheer scale and pace of change for what we have witnessed in terms of the global collective adaption we have witnessed happen around eCommerce within a month of social distancing impact? Answer: None!

New rules-of-engagement have been adopted, in part by government influence, by new social norms and by the natural adaption of brands and retailers such that:

  • Pictures typifying groups of people have become a temporary no-no
  • ‘At home’ and ‘socially engaged’ has become the new ‘normal’ and given rise to new personas. See https://tryzens.com/blog/customer-personas-and-merchandising-opportunities/
  • Seasonality and events have taken second place to content on helping consumers cope with the constraints on everyday life, for example through reading lists, watch lists, play lists, online classes, menus and recipes, which are all now found alongside traditional shopping experiences through clever editorial and targeted customer messaging
  • Well-deserved recognition of our key workers keeping our nations going and protecting our most vulnerable citizens has come centre-stage, mostly with good intention through incentives, campaigns and support as part of the corporate social responsibility agenda of in-tune retailers and brands.
  • Digital stores have become more relevant destinations outside of your daily exercise and essential trips to supermarkets, pharmacies and to care for the vulnerable.
  • Levels of visitor traffic has surged to online stores since the lockdown, with wait lists for access on some storefronts measured sometimes measured in 100’s of thousands!
  • Promotions and Incentives have been used to help keep cashflow flowing, stock turning, and consumers engaged to compensate for lost revenues from physical stores.
  • Delivery thresholds have moved as supply chains are stretched, but guess what people are ok with that!

The ability to pick up on public sentiment, the ability to adapt your messaging to resonate and ‘stay in tune’ with your customers has never been more important than it is today.  Yes, online businesses will succeed when physical stores are closed, as more traffic will inevitably work harder to find you.  However, what is key is to remain relevant, to be easy to do business with and to deliver on an experience and a commercial proposition that transcends a point in time but is based on brand affinity in tone and timely relevance.  Being in tune with your customer and adapting to changes in market environments and sentiment are more critical today than they were just weeks ago.

The result is that there is now a constant refactoring in digital content and commerce – what we are seeing today off the back of our social restrictions may be totally different in a few weeks’ time.  Such is the pace and scale of change introduced through the response to the pandemic that new behaviours have formed globally and across generations.  We will look back in in a year with a perspective and insight on consumers that would have seemed audacious at the start of 2020. The challenge is to embrace the digital opportunity!

A core tenet of digital commerce is its ability to transcend physical borders, to reach the corners of the globe and to adapt efficiently to different seasons, campaigns, events to bring consumers the latest and greatest offers based on their interests, their habits and their needs. Having access to the right technology, possessing the skills to trade effectively online and being able to garner real time insight into consumer behaviour give brands and retailers real advantage in the market. One thing is certain, those businesses that are succeeding in driving traffic, conversion rates and basket size, are those that are in-tune with market sentiment and have sufficient agility to adapt their messaging, their content, their promotions and their engagement with customer groups across all digital channels.

To repeat, this is not just a way of thinking it has to be enabled by the application of intelligent technology and processes that bring enlightenment and efficiency to decision making, improvements in operations, accuracy in action, and scale to scheduling and control.  It also requires the skills of a capable digital commerce team to translate understanding and insight into action that delights customers and manages commercial risk and opportunity.

In a world harnessing artificial intelligence and offering always open storefronts, having a single view of your socially engaged customers across channels, delivering a personalised and relevant experience to each of them has not only become more achievable, it is proving to be more successful.  Equally merchandising a single view of stock to the market enables retailers to drive better margins across channels and deliver better experiences for customers.

So the good news is that digital commerce is proving beyond doubt its relevance and technical ability to scale and to adapt swiftly What is essential though is the human management and orchestration of messaging and content, so that it is relevant, in tune and timely for the customer.

To this end, I would argue that agility and success in digital commerce should also be measured through two new KPI’s – ‘timeliness of action’ and empathetic ‘tone of engagement’ with consumers through content and promotion.

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