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The eCommerce customer journey hasn't changed in 20 years - here’s why it needs to, and fast
Disruptive innovators have revolutionised the way consumers experience everything from video and audio streaming to dating and transportation. As a result they now expect a seamless buying process when they shop online - something which eCommerce is failing to deliver.
If you look at the current ecosystem of eCommerce tools that power the hyper growth DNVB’s and online giants of this world, the picture is largely the same as it was 20 years ago. Of course, we’ve since seen new entrants arrive in the space and innovate in areas like audience reach and service speed, but the underlying architecture behind the payment transaction hasn’t changed much in two decades.
The overall journey of how a customer purchases from you (as a brand), communicates with you, and all the subtle nuances surrounding this journey like subscriptions, leaving reviews, and discount codes remain fairly untouched.
This is Amazon’s homepage in 2000. It mimics Amazon's web page of todayvery closely. It features account login functionality, a search catalogue of products, and showcases promotional offers. I’m not saying Amazon isn’t working. Clearly it is. I'm saying Amazon works for commodity based goods - an extension lead or a toaster. But what if there is a brand equity pull there? What if I actually want to engage with a brand beyond a one off purchase?
Reducing friction in the customer journey
Note that whilst eCom has largely followed the playbook set by the likes of Amazon, other industries have been turned upside down by disruptive technologies. Trailblazers like Netflix and Spotify have revolutionized the video and audio industries, and to a large extent the entire content consumption space. Slack and Tinder have done the same within their own niches, as have the likes of Uber and Airbnb.
What all these innovative players have in common is that they each took something that was previously cumbersome and fragmented, and aggregated and streamlined it into one single platform. This reduces the cognitive load of the experience, and increases the speed of service 10x - leaving the industry they disrupted in the dust. For the consumer, renting a DVD and hailing a cab became old almost overnight.
The culture of instant gratification
As these technologies proliferate across our lifestyles, we have become accustomed to the on-demand experience they provide. Functionality that lets us watch movies at our fingertips, get an instant ride across the city and listen to almost any song ever created on the way there is now the norm for consumers. Industry players that don’t offer the same experience start to customers and revenue at an alarming rate.
Set against this context, eCommerce is starting to feel just a little bit old. Jumping from your fifth email CTA, through to a website, searching through the various pages, finding a product you like, adding to a basket, and being met with the inevitable wall of friction to create an account is far from the seamless experience we get from the Netflix’s of this world.
In this day and age, the customer journey shouldn’t be like that. The successes mentioned above aren’t rocket science, they are just the result of better thinking and frameworking - which have turned the whole ecosystem on its head. This progress has brought eCommerce to a crossroads. We have reached a moment where innovation has to occur in order to fight back against the industry’s Goliaths, whose scale has burdened consumers with a slow, unsatisfying buying process - one that their experiences elsewhere have conditioned them not to put up with.
Reimagining the customer journey
For the past 2 years, this is what we've been working on at Blueprint. We have been reimagining how this journey may look - how consumers purchase, communicate and engage with their favourite brands and creators. Breaking free from the shackles of asynchronous email communication, unwieldy customer support pages, and purchasing firewalls. Blueprint is the base-layer of communication and commerce that is built for the future of eCommerce.
Purchasing any product from your favourite brand becomes as easy as asking for it, editing a subscription is a message away, and order issues are instantly solved. An experience akin to an app or independent platform, without ever leaving the messaging solution you're already using everyday. No more downloads or logins. For a brand, this unlocks a whole side of their relationships with their customers they’ve never experienced. For a customer, the experience of purchasing and engaging with their favourite brand now becomes as easy as picking a song.
When that email campaign didn’t quite reach, or your conversion rates aren’t quite cutting it, adding another app to fix it may not be the answer. These are plasters on a broken bone. The real issues here are that consumers want purchasing and communication to happen instantly and seamlessly - to reflect other areas of their hyper fast-moving, urban lives. It’s time eCommerce caught up.