“2014 Trends in B2C Commerce” Survey Shows Large Investment in Loyalty, Content, Omnichannel

Hard to imagine ‘tis the season to plan for holiday 2014. The good news: the Oracle Commerce team is sharing new insights as to where online organizations have invested in the last year, YOY performance, and key investment areas for 2104 and 2015.

Each year, Oracle releases a “Trends in B2C Commerce” survey to hundreds of IT and business professionals. This year’s survey results showed returning core themes from 2013 results -- with a few surprises. For the third year in a row, investing in the customer experience ranked as the top priority. What’s interesting is that it’s not necessarily the same “CX” as in years past (focused on the linking cross-channel experiences). Firms have already put significant investment in to the first phase of their CX initiatives, and are now moving on to invest in really knowing the customer. In 2014 and 2015, investing in the customer experience hinges on loyalty.

Loyalty is the number one way retailers can protect themselves from the Amazon effect. Email remains a top investment area, as well as personalized promotions, which have emerged as a focus area to combat price competition. Loyalty is also changing how B2C firms measure success; prioritizing customer retention and new customer acquisition in addition to traditional commerce KPIs (i.e.: conversation rates, order values). Nearly half of respondents stated that customer retention is now their second most important success metric behind revenue, followed by customer acquisition, conversion rates, and order values – a significant shift in behavior. While there is much focus on building relationships with customers to increase loyalty, a huge challenge for organizations is the lack of visibility to the customer, their preferences, and their relationship with the brand as a whole (across channels).

Another interesting development over the last year is the importance of blending content in to the commerce experience, with 59% of respondents reporting a heavy investment in rich digital content to enhance the overall customer experience, increase purchase confidence, overcome competitive sites, and to help with SEO efforts. Content within the commerce experience is seen as critical to engagement whether visitors want to explore a brand or conduct a transaction. Now, internal teams realize they must organize their processes, teams, and technology in a centralized fashion to deliver transactional and exploratory experiences together in a single experience.

The third core theme emerging from the survey results is the omnichannel experience, which firms cite as critical to their success, but difficult to manage and measure. Based on revenue breakdowns, respondents confirmed the assumption that channels are used in tandem for purchases and this is seen as a positive thing (for instance, citing in-store cannibalization as only a minor threat). Retailers embrace omnichannel and it’s positive impact to their bottom line, but how companies connect the customer experience across siloed business units and touchpoints remains is a top challenge to overcome.

For complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16.

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