Successful marketing these days depends on how retailers are meeting their customers' expectations. It's a tall order because customers know what they want, and they have more options than ever before. If you don't (or can't) provide a personalized experience that meets those expectations, customers have no problem finding a competitor that will.
Orchestrated experiences, tailored for every consumer, are a necessity in the digital age, and that truism applies during the entire relationship, from product discovery through post-sale delivery. Amazon.com knows this well. The company is setting the expectation today for the experiences customers will demand from retailers in the future.
The Amazon.com addiction
Amazon.com understands that orchestrated experiences are essential throughout the buying process, which explains why its services are so widely used. The company's website and recommendations offer a personalized experience during the discovery phase, but it doesn't end there. The company sends its customers customized shipping and delivery alerts, when and where they want them. Want push notifications on your mobile device, or do you prefer SMS alerts? No problem. Do you only want email — or perhaps all three? Amazon.com is happy to accommodate.
Before Christmas, for example, I made several purchases on Amazon.com. The company alerted me through push notifications, SMS alerts and email when my products shipped. I also received the same notifications (push notification, SMS message and email) the moment the products arrived at my door. Often, the delivery driver hasn't restarted his engine before I'm alerted, three different ways, that my package is on the doorstep.
Why transactional orchestration matters
Highly coordinated transactional alerting is important for several reasons. I'm fine with email notifications, but I prefer the immediacy of mobile alerts because I want to know exactly when my products arrive. I can't wait for that new book, jacket or device to arrive, and I want to know the minute it's on my doorstep. And if I'm away, I can either rush home immediately or arrange for a friend to retrieve the package. I might not see an email for several hours, but I'm always on my phone and will see the text message and push notification immediately. If the package were to sit on my stoop for five hours, however, I couldn't help but lament the wasted hours that I could have spent enjoying that new product. The immediacy of demand helps explain why 94 percent of retail sales occur offline, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce figures. When people want something, they want it now.
No success without orchestration
Amazon.com customers must opt in to receive push notifications through the company's app, and the option isn't immediately obvious. Amazon.com has never prompted me to enable push alerts. On one hand, that's commendable. The company isn't pushy about push alerts, which consumers remain divided on. However, Amazon.com could better educate customers that the push and SMS alerting options exist. Amazon is setting the bar for customer expectations, but there's still room to improve.
Today — and certainly in the future — retailers' marketing success will depend on orchestration across multiple channels throughout the customer relationship. Personalized customer relationships are more important than ever. Customers want to determine how companies communicate with them, and those that don't satisfy those demands will suffer from a loss of loyalty. Value-added communications such as push and SMS notifications will not only drive loyalty but also purchasing decisions. If you don't orchestrate experiences across all channels and touch points, customers may very well decide to purchase through a retailer that does.