Content and commerce – it’s no longer just a trend that you hear in the industry where only a few far between may understand what it is. Now, it’s so much more than a buzzword, especially in today’s evolving digital landscape. It’s an approach, a mindset, and most importantly, an organizational strategy that takes your manufacturing business to the next level of maturity.
In this blog, we’ll discuss how content & commerce can be leveraged across your organization to not only build better relationships with your customers, but improve processes, people, and technology from within your organization for now and the future.
What is a Content & Commerce Approach?
From our perspective, and in the simplest of terms, content & commerce occurs when companies align the information that people need and want to make informed decisions to know if they’re purchasing the right product. Meaning, that as a manufacturer, you understand what your buyers want and need throughout their buying journey and can align on certain objectives to deliver on these two expectations.
But to do that effectively, your organization must pause and look inward. It is one thing to know what your customers need and want, but you must start building the solution from within, and I don’t just mean so you can reach the goal of helping your customers. In fact, this approach has much more impact on the entire structure of your company, including how you formulate your goals, strategy, and competencies.
To begin, you might consider doing the following for your organization:
- Grasping and honing in on a level of business support and buy-in
- Evaluating which technology, you should leverage as your first step in this initiative
- Deciding how you’re going to implement the first two decisions in your go-to-market strategy
These are the first steps that you and everyone across your business must understand and prepare for, as they will shift your organization to act in a way that’s much more agile, seamless, and most importantly – successful.
Why Digital Commerce is the First Step to Your Content & Commerce Approach
To help elevate and mature your business, you must ask yourself, “What are we doing that makes it hard for our customers to do business with us?” To answer this, you’ve got to ensure that everyone at your company is looking at content & commerce, thinking of the buying journey, and making sure that marketing, sales, and technology are working together on your strategy. Often, that strategy has everything to do with how your company looks at and leverages digital commerce, especially as a manufacturer.
This sounds like it might be a heavy task to complete – and it could be – but before you worry, let’s look at how content & commerce has evolved over time, and why it’s not as intimidating as it might be.
The Evolution of the Content & Commerce Approach
This approach once was regarded as simply bringing your Content Management System (CMS) and commerce platforms together to create a singular experience for customers. In other words, leverage headless commerce and the concept of microservices to connect two separate technologies.
The purpose of this approach is to present the ability to buy a product at the moment of interest regardless of where that is in the buyer’s journey. This concept still holds true, but what is also required is a broader consideration of how sales and marketing interact and how the product teams fit into the decision process. It is important for organizations to know that a certain level of maturity is required to really be successful with content and commerce. With today’s digital environment, the approach has become more intricate to meet both business and customer expectations.
The focus is now on creating a personalized experience that provides content in the right setting and moment to impact conversion. This establishes the need for businesses to create individual roles and processes to accomplish this demand. It very much sounds like a tall order, and you’ll have to address data and operational challenges, such as:
- Breaking down departmental silos
- Addressing disconnected processes
- Effectively maintaining systems, shared resources, and processes implemented
- Aligning efforts among several teams within your organization
- Implementing new tools, resources, and strategy
And most importantly – you must know and maintain the goal you’d like to achieve for your organization and as a manufacturer, analyze and determine if your current internal resources can help you in your content and commerce approach, and ensure your IT, marketing, and C-Level leadership bought into the approach.
Solutions that Enable Content and Commerce
By now, you already know that to have an effective content and commerce approach to your organization, your company must break down silos from within to not just deliver a great customer experience but also align your teams, processes, and technologies to overcome obstacles as you respond to real-time business demands.
Thankfully, our team of experts at Perficient put together a 10-part video series that highlights six different solutions to focus on with your content and commerce approach, and they’re the following:
- Product information and enrichment, and customer data
- Digital Marketing
- Customer journeys
- Organizational change management (OCM)
Let’s go over each of these.
Companies must think and act upon data with a mature effort – which is not something that any organization, not just manufacturers, can become overnight. There are many steps to becoming digitally mature, especially when it comes to product enrichment and managing customer and product data.
Product data is insufficient or structured correctly if it is only managed through an enterprise resource system (ERP). You cannot effectively sell your products this way, especially from an ecommerce perspective. Mature organizations that utilize a content & commerce approach identify multiple distinctive characteristics when it comes to their products, such as product name that a customer will understand, description, key attributes of the product, and product image. Not only that but they are also dedicated to growing and thinking of methods that will enhance their product data further as they continue to grow.
It is important to note that it’s not something you plan to do one time only from a customer and product perspective, it’s going to extend through multiple phases and growing data sets. Committed, mature manufacturers draw strong conclusions to build their next steps to provide the right information to their customers at the right time.
Take a step back and think about this question, what is the most personalized website you go to when you want to search for something? Yes, it’s Google. Everything is directly attributed or targeted towards you as an individual when you conduct that search online. But search is used in several different ways – and site search specifically determines what is most relevant to the user and how we present it to them.
Site search is not just an add-on item, it is a high-level initiative that can drive conversions and revenue. Site search can get so nitty gritty that systems can determine if certain products and users are alike. When we talk about commerce, we are doing the exact same thing. If we make it about you as an individual, then you are more likely to buy more because the messaging and content seems to speak to you directly. Not only does this give your user the best result, but it also optimizes your business in a way that ensures you display the right choice – every time.
The reality is that strategy must be established from the jump, though often time, it’s not. The strategy has often received a bad reputation when it is really the strongest asset to your content and commerce approach. It is true, and we often say that strategy without execution is a daydream, but execution without strategy is a nightmare.
Strategy defines how your company is going to meet the expectations of your customer and determine what resources are available to your organization to operate successfully. And it plays an even more significant role when your organization decides to pursue digital commerce, as it is much different from the traditional, physical sales channel that most companies are used to. Selling in the physical channel has become siloed and outdated, with little diversity in sharing products. With a digital channel, you have a greater chance of meeting your customer goal due to the variety of ways you can show and promote your products online.
Personalized content is a key driver behind the commerce experience and is a strong combination of search (which we spoke briefly about earlier) and digital marketing. It’s important for both marketing and business leaders to have these aligned with one another to deliver the perfect online experience that customers are looking for. And with this comes understanding your audience and where they are on their buying journeys. When your business can review your current customer’s buying experience, take it. You might find hidden gaps or opportunities that could drastically improve the customer experience.
With your content & commerce approach, it’s important you remain customer obsessed. To become customer-obsessed, you must put the customer at the center and understand their needs, wants, and expectations. You must also understand the actions they take to engage with your business. What matters most to your customer is what you need to deliver – being customer obsessed is a business principle.
Your content and commerce approach will allow you to break down the barriers that make it difficult for customers to work with your business. Not only will that make your customers happy, but your organization will grow from it in a positive way by becoming more agile to adapt to quick-shifting events, greater at creating and maintaining customer relationships, and improving your go-to-market strategy.
Think about what you need to have in place to make everything work at all. It’s a lot to consider, and it can become overwhelming if you do not know where to start. Your organizational change management strategy (OCM) will assist you with putting a plan in place for various parts of your business, such as customer research and evaluation, requirements gathering, or technology implementation, and will later help these subjects feed into each other more naturally.
You have got to have your internal experiences aligned with each other around a strategy for any client engagement to be effectively executed. You want to create a work culture where your people feel readily prepared to accept change in a company to meet the expectations of the digital-first customer.
How Perficient Can Help You With Content & Commerce
Our content & commerce experts at Perficient have the knowledge and experience regarding implementation specifics of this very approach. Though it might vary by manufacturer, we know how to efficiently help you through this evolution incrementally through our 10-part video series.
Our content & commerce video series discusses the business and technology impacts of the approach, what steps you’ll need to take to be successful, how you can make informed decisions in your digital journey, and overall, strengthen internal processes and relationships with your customers.
Visit our content & commerce content hub for more information on the series and the concept of the approach. If you’re feeling ready to take the next steps in your content & commerce approach, then contact our experts today to set up a meeting.