Report: Brands continue to struggle with online commerce

Research finds marketers are too narrowly focused on point-of-sale at the expense of the entire customer experience

While marketing and IT decision makers agree a fully comprehensive digital marketing platform is crucial for customer loyalty and business growth, the lion’s share of brands are unprepared for driving the growth of online commerce, according to a new global study.

The report produced by Sitecore found many brands are too narrowly focused on the point of sale at the expense of the entire customer experience, with less than a quarter prioritising post-purchase and less than a third seeing pre-purchase phases as most important.

The research analysed responses from 826 marketing and IT decision makers, and 414 IT partners and suppliers in 14 countries about their attitudes toward and strategies for online commerce.

A key finding indicated that although 42 per cent of an organisation’s total sales have come from online channels in the past year (and this is expected to grow by nearly 6 per cent in the next year), on average, only 14 per cent of the online sales budget is dedicated to managing the digital consumer experience.

And despite 73 per cent of survey respondents agreeing that customer loyalty is lost without a focused brand experience, organisations are still not providing a holistic experience online that spans across web and commerce systems.

The research also uncovered a number of key challenges for brands wanting to maximise returns from commerce. Chief among them is that more than a third of brands (36 per cent) that use a Web content management solution (CMS) are unable to personalise the purchasing experience, and 33 per cent lack insight into and data about the purchasing experience.

For IT providers, the top three challenges include the ability to integrate new solutions into legacy systems (51 per cent), the struggle to deliver a seamless customer experience (51 per cent), and an ability to deliver constant innovation (50 per cent).

Other findings reveal the most desired features of a digital marketing system are opportunities for upsell and cross-sell (55 per cent), search engine history (54 per cent), and geo-location (39 per cent). It also found only a third (32 per cent) say their organisation is completely successful at having clear lines of communication in place between senior management and departments involved in online sales.

Sitecore CMO, Scott Anderson, said it’s important for brands to step up and deliver digital marketing platforms that integrate the customer experience across Web content and online commerce systems.

“As consumers now expect a seamless and immediate shopping experience, the importance of delivering the right experience directly affects the brand. But right now, brands struggle to fulfil the optimal customer experience due to a disconnect between content and commerce driven primarily by the complexity of technology integration,” he said.

“As consumers’ expectations are paramount to business, it’s time for brands to focus in this area.”

On a positive note, the report found when it comes to IT partners innovating and evolving digital marketing and commerce platforms, the most likely respondents to believe they are market leaders are in Australia (60 per cent), Germany (50 per cent), and US and Canada (49 per cent).

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