“The customer journey is constantly evolving and it’s not linear.” Ram Iyer, worldwide director of digital strategy and ecommerce at Microsoft, advised on our “Behind the Numbers: Reimagining Retail” podcast.
Think beyond a strictly digital or in-store consumer and meet customers where they are through an omnichannel and cross-platform approach, he said.
Look at the shopping journey “through the eyes of the consumer,” said Iyer, who noted the pandemic accelerated consumers’ comfort with digital shopping.
In 2020, the number of US digital buyers grew by 5.4%, according to our forecast, before settling at 1.6% growth in 2021.
Those digital buyers stuck around, and this year, 84.2% of US internet users will buy online.
Think about those shoppers through an omnichannel lens. “Digital can really become the glue that can help us connect across all these channels,” Iyer said.
Some 60% of Windows PC consumers shop both in-store and online before making their final purchases, he said.
Iyer stressed the importance of personalizing content to shoppers at the point of purchase, either through QR codes, augmented reality (AR) features, or live demonstrations that turn the store into a “digital storytelling” space.
Social commerce provides another storytelling opportunity.
Social is “the new playground for shoppers,” specifically Gen Z and millennial consumers, noted Iyer.
Social isn’t only important for discovery (although that remains vital). “What we are clearly seeing is this evolution from just being a medium for driving awareness to really enabling some of those commerce transactions,” Iyer said.
TikTok is, unsurprisingly, a key platform for Microsoft. “It’s kind of replaced TV for me from an entertainment perspective,” he said.
Move away from programmatic content calendars and follow the trends, he suggested. This approach has paid off for Xbox in particular, which leverages trends to push timely, and occasionally risky, marketing…..