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Marketers Are Still Novices When it Comes to Experiential Commerce

Eleven years after Amazon.com was introduced to the world, the e-commerce site posted its first profitable year—and the industry doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Last year, global B2C e-com sales grew to $1.2 trillion and it’s estimated that this number will balloon to $2.4 trillion by 2017. Despite this growth, e-commerce is still evolving.

CoreMedia surveyed 143 attendees at IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit in May to gauge how they’re addressing experiential commerce*. The Web CMS provider learned three things.

1. There’s a growing focus on experiential commerce. Seventy-five percent of businesses are at least discussing it. Although when it comes to implementation, companies still have a long way to go. In fact, only 11% of companies have actually implemented an experiential commerce strategy.

2. The drivers for experiential commerce center on revenue issues and shaping customer perception. As reported by 57% of respondents, the top factor driving experiential adoption is a lack of differentiation from the competition. The next two most influential drivers were low conversion rates and a lack of brand understanding among customers at 44 and 43%, respectively.

3. While it’s still early for experiential commerce implementations, respondents shared the toughest challenges that they face when moving toward experiential commerce. They were:

  • Providing relevant shopping experiences, regardless of  channel, is considered a challenge by more than 58% of companies.
  • Personalizing the user experience based on contextual information—such as time of day, geographic location, or device—was the next most frequently cited issue for just under 58% of survey participants.
  • At 55%, the third most cited challenge was the integration of e-com and marketing strategies as well as the systems that support them.
  • Lack of expertise with experiential commerce was among the top concerns, according to 48% of the companies surveyed.
  • Also at 48% was the challenge of incorporating all kinds of rich media into the commerce platform.

Despite e-commerce’s boon, marketers still have a hard time understanding how to provide better customer experiences. The survey theorizes, “By shifting our focus to what drives customers and inspires their loyalty toward a business…we can succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace.”

*Creating an enjoyable social experience for customers. What’s a positive for retailers in this approach is that a more engaged customer can support a better margin model, meaning that Amazon.com-like scale is no longer a prerequisite of a retail business.

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