Article

Tom Collier
Tom Collier 7 June 2018

Three ecommerce insights from Ascend 2018

Marketers share their insights on how your brand can capitalise on the new age of retail experience

Last month, hundreds of marketers, developers and customer experience professionals descended on Hammersmith to attend Episerver Ascend 2018 – London’s annual CMS, web and digital experience conference.

Bringing together international brands, strategists and keynotes from Episerver experts, the event gave merchandisers and marketers the opportunity to share their key lessons from working in an increasingly experience-driven world.

Here are some of the insights that I took away from the day on how your brand can capitalise on the new age of retail experience:

1. Only build what adds value

Through a combination of machine learning, big data and real-time personalisation, the opportunities to add to, edit and tweak digital content are seemingly endless. But just because marketers and web developers have the opportunity to incorporate the latest digital tools, it doesn’t mean they necessarily have to.

For online retailers and ecommerce sites, a huge array of personalisation options have allowed brands to obsess over every detail of their websites, piling more functions on top of each other in an effort to stay up-to-date.

However, by focusing too much on technologies, brands often end up overcomplicating their user journeys, making it more, rather than less, difficult for users to get from A to B. Speaking at Episerver Ascend, Ross Jeavons, Head of Content at the English Football League reminds us that we ecommerce marketers must only build what adds value and creates memorable experiences: “We must stop focusing on the MVP – the Minimum Viable Product – and instead focus on building the MLP – the Minimum Lovable Product.”

2. Don’t give up on offline

With seemingly endless reports of the ‘death of the high street’ it’s very easy for brands with a strong digital presence to fall into the trap of assuming that only online commerce really matters in 2018. According to Mark Lewis, ecommerce consultant and Deputy CEO of Practicology, those reports are wrong.

Rather than focusing efforts on the digital landscape, Mark believes that, in an age of experience, the ability to browse in-store is more important than ever before.

Pointing to the example of John Lewis – which has recently devoted a fifth of its floorspace to in-store experience content – Mark states that the brands that are creating the most memorable omnichannel experiences are those providing equal weight to both online and offline channels.

Not only are customers increasingly taking an omnichannel approach to shopping, they are also drawn to memorable experiences throughout the shopping process. And, as Mark points out, “most of the best retail experiences I’ve ever had have happened in-store.”

3. Being innovative is as important as being disruptive

In addition to the mainstage keynotes, Episerver Ascend also ran a series of panel debates and interactive roundtables with attendees. In one such roundtable, run by web agency AmazeRealise, the conversation turned to the benefits of innovation vs disruption.

While ‘digital disruption’ remains a popular buzzword throughout the ecommerce community, it was interesting to see so many web developers turning their backs on the concept. Instead, many argued that it is better to be seen as an innovative incumbent rather than a digital disruptor – fixing problems in the industry rather than looking to entirely change the rules of play.

As Mark Lewis concluded, “Constant change is great. But sometimes, incremental movement in the right direction can be even better.”

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