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Personalise your customer experience with Salesforce

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Bram van der Doelen
Bram van der Doelen
Marketing Automation Tech Lead
10 November 2022

DEPT® is pioneering technology and marketing to help brands stay ahead of trends. Improving the customer experience to engage on a personalised level with the target audience will definitely be on the priority list of many brands for the next few years. Do you wonder what the personalised CX of tomorrow looks like? Spoiler alert: you can already start optimising your brand’s customer experience today with the help of DEPT® and Salesforce.

Optimising your customer experience in one go might seem like a giant leap. That’s why we take it one step at a time. You don’t run a marathon on your first training, do you? The same goes for personalising your communication. Let’s take a look at this roadmap we implemented to skyrocket a personal care brand’s engagement with a personalised customer experience.

Low-hanging fruit: basic personalisation

The first step in personalisation is using the customer’s first name in your communication. It’s a lot easier to build a relationship when you’re on a first-name basis. This easy-to-realise, seemingly small improvement has a significant impact; it directly shows the value of personalisation. Adding the customer’s name in our test run with the personal care brand increased the open rate by a staggering 14.45%. 

DEPT® implemented this for the personal care brand by creating three segments: women under the age of 35, women over 35, and men. After the implementation, the CTR of brand’s emails increased by 7.64% for women and a whopping 93.90% for men!

These “low-hanging fruit” optimisations never fail to increase performance. And the best part is you can start implementing these changes today.

Elevate personalisation with advanced segmentation

Let’s turn your personalisation up a notch. Salesforce’s possibilities go beyond the basics. By gathering data based on online behaviour and interaction, it’s possible to get valuable insights into the customer’s interests and needs.

As a brand, you want your customers to receive your message when they have the time to read it, but every person has their own daily routine. Salesforce’s AI system, Einstein, made it possible to customise the send-out day and time based on the behavior on a personal level. When we implemented this for the personal care brand, the open rate increased by 33.40%.

Predictive personalisation for a top-notch CX

What’s next, you wonder? Predictive personalisation. Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud Personalization gains in-depth insights into each customer and applies AI to deliver personalised, cross-channel experiences at any point in your customers’ journey. Their behaviour will be monitored on the web by first-party cookies, in-app, and email. Marketing Cloud Personalization can determine the following action for every customer and adjust messaging on different channels accordingly in real-time by identity-stitching the data of various data sources. 

For example, when a customer is browsing through the ‘day cream’ category, Marketing Cloud Personalization calculates the user’s affinity with this category. By combining an individual’s user behaviour with the data of other customers, the tool can personalise the website by changing the home page banner and recommendations on the home page. If the client leaves the website without a purchase but has a considerable conversion intent, there’s a possibility to reach out through different channels, like sending AI-driven emails.

Do you want to communicate with your target audience on a personalised level to gain engagement and revenue? Optimising your customer experience is the way to go.

If you want to be a leader in your industry by gaining engagement through a personalised customer experience, go beyond the low-hanging fruit. DEPT® is a certified Salesforce partner with the expertise to stay ahead of the curve.

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Marketing Automation Tech Lead

Bram van der Doelen

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Three learnings manufacturers can take from B2C commerce

manufacturing cogs
Lizzie Powell
Lizzie Powell
Strategy Director
28 October 2022

We’re all well aware of the growth of e-commerce over the past couple of years, but it wasn’t only for B2C, B2B saw a huge surge in commerce too and arguably saw the biggest change. The global B2B e-commerce market is valued over 5 times higher than the B2C market, at a huge $14.9 trillion

The B2C market has set the benchmark for e-commerce standards, and despite their differences, there’s plenty of inspiration and learnings manufacturers can take from B2C brands. Especially as the line between the B2B and B2C customer is slowly fading, what was classed as nice to have in B2B is now expected thanks to the experience B2B buyers are receiving as B2C customers.

Here we take a deep dive into the new B2B buyer and the key learnings manufacturers can take from B2C to supercharge their commerce experience. 

manufacturing cogs

The rise of e-commerce in manufacturing

Research from Mckinsey, shows that e-commerce is now the highest revenue-driving sales model accounting for 18%, which puts it on the same level as in-person sales and ahead of all other sales channels. 

The shift from traditional selling isn’t slowing down, it’s expected that by 2025, 80% of all B2B interactions will happen digitally. But the move to digital isn’t a transition that can happen overnight, manufacturers need to start their digital transformation now in order to reap the benefits further down the line. 

When it comes to commerce in manufacturing, it is usually more complex than B2C due to a number of factors, from long-buyer lifecycles to high value purchases. However, e-commerce has the power to transform manufacturers by moving them away from traditional ways of doing business and giving them a digital ecosystem where they can optimise their customer journey and enhance their e-commerce experience. 

DEPT® recently helped Jotun migrate all 91 variations of its B2B and B2C websites, to a new Optimizely solution. Due to two completely different audiences (B2B and B2C), different solutions were implemented to ensure the correct and relevant content is displayed to the customers. Specifically for the B2B customer, in order to deliver personalised features, content and applications to the relevant user, DEPT® built an IAM (identity and access management) solution to define high level access to the portal, allowing Jotun to deliver a personalised B2B commerce experience.

Building digital experiences customers now expect

A key driving force behind the rise in manufacturing commerce is the evolving B2B customer. The frictionless digital experience they are accustomed to as a B2C customer is now expected throughout the B2B buying journey. They want suppliers to be present across more channels than ever before and deliver a personalised experience on them all. Also, convenience is now key. They’re welcoming more automation and self service, giving them greater control of the process, whether that’s from placing orders to paying invoices. A new B2B customer is formed. 

Research by McKinsey showed that 62% of B2B customers would prefer to reorder products online and 60% found remote sales as effective as traditional. However, according to a recent report, 52% of B2B customers experience frustration with online B2B buying – lack of functionality tops the list as the biggest obstacle, closely followed by load speeds and difficulty finding products. And, this isn’t good news for manufacturers, as a huge 90% will turn to a competitor if customer experience is not up to scratch on a supplier’s digital channel. On the plus side, they are willing to pay a premium for a great commerce experience. 

However, these figures aren’t surprising when only 18% of companies say they have a customer-centric strategy. This needs to change. Manufacturers must start to take a leaf out of B2C’s book and move away from being product focused to more customer-centric. But, to do so they need the right digital solutions. 

If these stats alone aren’t a good enough reason to up your commerce game, I don’t know what is! Here are 3 key learnings manufacturers can take from B2C commerce to do just that. 

3 learnings B2B can take from B2C e-commerce

01 Personalisation 

From experiencing personalisation as a consumer, B2B customers are now demanding the same tactics are used. According to Accenture, 73% of B2B executives have a growing number of customers who are looking for their interactions with the brands to be more personal. Although this will differ quite substantially from B2C, with the amount of data at your disposal, you can deliver personalisation that is unique to their buyers’ journey. Due to most business coming from repeat orders, manufacturers will arguably have access to more customer data. This includes customer accounts with an organisational structure, and previous orders, which should allow manufacturers to predict the future needs of their customers. Customer loyalty is key in B2B and gives a podium for personalisation to shine. For example, capturing data and adopting the use of artificial intelligence to help anticipate customer preferences and needs.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all and generic messaging. Personalisation allows manufacturing companies the opportunity to engage with their customers in a much more relevant way, by leveraging customer data, preferences and online behaviour. B2B commerce gives manufacturers the power to configure personalised catalogues and pricing, as well as provide customers with tailored product recommendations all in real-time. And, it doesn’t all have to happen digitally. The sales team will be able to see customer activity online, which in turn will allow them to provide a personalised in-person experience too. This has the power to set their experience apart from competitors. 

And, if the success reaped by B2C brands has anything to go by, it has the potential to raise revenue and increase loyalty. 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from businesses that offer a tailored experience and 70% say that how well a company understands their individual needs impacts their loyalty. Those companies that personalise sales and marketing more closely to the customer are more likely to have gained market share in 2021, with 75% of those offering direct one-on-one personalisation reporting a move. Additionally, 44% of customers who experience personalisation say they will become repeat customers.

02 Seamless, multi-channel experience 

There have never been more channels used by B2B buyers than now. As of December 2021, McKinsey reported that B2B decision makers are using 10 channels to interact with suppliers, up from 5 channels in 2016. B2B companies that are selling through more channels are also likely to have gained market share, 72% of those who used 7 channels reported an increase. Omnichannel is here and manufacturers need to keep pace and be wherever the customer is. 

When the B2B customer is trying to complete or satisfy an order, the delivery of content should be unobtrusive and rapid. The ability to augment product details with content and upsell/cross-sell is now a must-have. Whether that’s through a website, app or in-person. 

Just like B2C, B2B customers expect a seamless UX that guides them through their journey. Yes, the B2B buying journey is often much longer and more complex than B2C, but that’s no excuse. Manufacturers need to be giving the customers the right information, at the right time, in the right place and in the right format, such as 360 product views or product video demonstrations, in order to make their lives easier and provide a great user experience. Whether that’s the ability to track an order in real-time or accessing a customer portal to self-serve, the right technology can contribute to a seamless user experience, whatever their need. 

03 Integrated e-commerce tech stack

Launching a B2B e-commerce site on its own just won’t stack up, it’s essential to adopt an integrated ecosystem to truly reap the benefits. So, it’s time to say goodbye to those legacy systems and invest in a tech stack. However, manufacturers will need to take it a step further than B2C due to its complexities. 

An increase in B2B touchpoints means a manufacturer’s customer will likely order through different channels, whether that’s through the ERP system or through a sales rep. Therefore, the tech stack must be able to facilitate orders however they come in. Another consideration is the complexity of the supply chain. Certain orders will require significant supply chain requirements, so it’s essential for each different system to be integrated in order to keep up with demand.

A high level of integration will also help to provide a holistic view of the customer and their journey as well as operational. Marketing automation and analytics are areas where B2C have excelled in and are key features to consider, especially to deliver on a customer-centric strategy, as well as the marketing of new products and ranges to existing and prospective customers. So the full features of an experience platform are not to be overlooked for B2B, in fact some manufacturers have considered these features as important as their catalogue.

But, not all platforms are created equally, so ensure you choose the one that is right for your business goals and outcomes. Unsure how to decide on the right platform? Find out more here.

This is only touching the tip of the learnings manufacturers can take from B2C. At the end of the day, all B2B customers are also B2C customers, so expectations will continue to transfer between them both. And, the digitisation of B2B commerce isn’t slowing down anytime soon, so it’s on manufacturers to keep up with the evolution of digital commerce or risk being left behind. Those willing to invest will reap the benefits. 

To find out how we can help you to take advantage of the learnings from B2C and take your B2B commerce function to the next level, get in touch today.

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Strategy Director

Lizzie Powell

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The future of commerce is composable, cookieless & personal

Dept Berlin Office 8 1
Lizzie Powell
Lizzie Powell
Strategy Director
27 October 2022

Each year, DEPT® Commerce Day brings the brightest minds in e-commerce to share their experience and vision.

The follow talks from October 2022 highlight the future of e-commerce and actionable steps brands can take to accelerate their e-commerce strategies across marketing and technology.

The future of e-commerce is composable

In this discussion, Tim de Kamper & Jonathan Whiteside (DEPT®) talk about why composable commerce is soon to be the leading architecture for sophisticated e-commerce stores. 

Top takeaways

  • More than likely, all brands will move to composable commerce in 3-5 years.
  • Composable commerce is about selecting the best-of-breed e-commerce tools/solutions and bringing them all together to compose and build your own experiences. 
  • The reason brands are selecting composable commerce is that no single vendor can offer all the applications needed to deliver e-commerce experiences that meet the demands of today’s customers. 
  • The typical components that brands are seeking out for best-of-breed include content, search, merchandising, payment, shipping, taxation, product management, and marketing automation. 
  • While we’re big fans of composable commerce, there are a few drawbacks, namely, managing several vendors and contracts, development resources, and more complex architecture. Before diving in, brands should reach a level of digital maturity. 

It’s not just best of breed, it’s also a matter of being able to quickly change certain components in your architectural landscape without overhauling the whole system.

Tim de Kamper

The future of e-commerce is cookieless

Lisanne Maatman (Lead Data Consulting at DEPT®) reviews the new cookieless and privacy-driven reality, and how to handle your data going forward. 

Top takeaways

  • The cookieless future affects all industries but impacts e-commerce most of all, and it’s already had a massive impact. While Chrome has delayed its cookie policy, Safari has already updated its browser to purge this data. A future-proof data strategy is imperative. 
  • There are four layers of data management that e-commerce teams need to be aware of: consent, identity, audience, and campaign data.
  • In order to gain consent to track additional data, brands need to offer something of value via content. 
  • Think about implementing the privacy sandbox from Google or start working on a CDP roadmap so you can combine all types of data (online, in-store, CRMs) and use it. 
  • We will all depend on our self-collected first-party data or the “public” gardens of Google, Amazon, etc. 

You want to be able to connect that user across all touchpoints – the way you do that is by merging that data in one central database.

Lisanne Maatman

The future of e-commerce is sustainable  

Anusha Couttigane (Head of Advisory at Vogue Business) reveals research on consumers and sustainability, showcasing how brands can communicate their initiatives effectively. 

Top takeaways

  • Consumers are willing to do research to make sustainable choices. In fact, 71% of people will choose a luxury brand that supports sustainability over one that does not (Vogue Business Index, 2022).
  • Consumers in the West are more likely to trust legacy media, such as magazines and websites, over social media. In other words, if brands tout their sustainability on social media, it will not be as effective. 
  • Only 15% of brands put sustainability information on product pages on their e-commerce sites. 40% of brands have zero information on sustainability and another 38% bury it in the footer. 
  • Brands should be more upfront with consumers about their sustainability practices–putting information at the point of sale. 
  • Consider sustainability services (repair, warranties) as an extension of your customer service lines. 

The more information we provide to shoppers at the point of sale, the more confidence they will have in your product and brand.

Anusha Couttigane

The future of e-commerce is personal

Ali Mcclintock (Managing Director at BYTE/DEPT®) walks us through an example of scaled personalisation for the e-commerce brand Just Eat

Top takeaways

  • By not personalising ads and brand messaging, you risk inefficiencies by wasting ad dollars on unqualified markets or audiences.  
  • It’s all about showing the right message to the right person at the right time. To do that effectively, you need paid media, data, and technology. 
  • To create a single personalised piece of content, you need to take into account the market, funnel stage, customer mindset, product, brand attribute, and desired behaviour.
  • Automating personalisation as much as possible frees up marketing teams to work on things like sponsorships, partnerships, and innovation. 
  • In fact, Just Eat’s automated personalisation project was 400% cheaper than manual asset production. 

Today there are too many options. With personalisation, brands have the opportunity to say, ‘I think I know what you might like.’

Ali Mcclintock

The future of e-commerce is phygital 

Max Pinas (Executive creative director at DEPT®) gives examples of how digital and physical commerce are blending into one “phygital” experience. 

Top takeaways

  • AR is becoming more relevant than ever. We are shopping at home away from the main shopping streets, but we still want to see things. We want to know: how does this look, or how does this fit?
  • A lot of big names are reverse engineering tech toward stores. We call that “phygital,” where physical and digital meet. 
  • Two examples of this are Amazon and Nike–Amazon opened their own first fashion retail store, and Nike has opened Nike Style. These experiences feature a green screen studio where you see digital screens that are really intermixed with physical experiences. 
  • Shopify has said, “the future of retail is going to be retail everywhere,” and they are set on making this happen. Currently, they have a partnership with Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube that support in-app purchases.

If you look around, e-commerce is getting integrated into everything we do.

Max Pinas

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Strategy Director

Lizzie Powell

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The future of retail is phygital

iStock 858220430 1
Natalie Williams
Natalie Williams
Marketing Manager
20 October 2022

Bricks-and-mortar retail is a thing of the past. Think again. 

Just as we thought physical stores were on the decline, more and more e-commerce brands are popping up on our high streets. It’s not surprising, as in August 2022, online accounted for only 24.2% of all retail sales in the UK, compared with a record 37.8% in January 2021; suggesting that shoppers are heading back to the high street for good. 

And brands are taking notice. This month, Deliveroo opened its first physical store ‘Deliveroo Hop’ on Oxford Street in London, adapting its dark store model to a “phygital” concept. A move that has surprised many, but with strong data backing them up, it’s not surprising to see why Deliveroo has taken the plunge. We’ll delve into this more later on.

It’s becoming apparent that physical and digital retail can no longer be siloed. With online retail sales struggling and it becoming a top priority to connect with customers more meaningfully, you can see why blending the two worlds is moving up the agenda. 

So what does the future look like for retailers? It’s time to get phygital, let’s explore.

Oxford Circus crossing London

What is “phygital”?

Phygital is a buzzword that’s rapidly being adopted in the retail industry. It’s all about combining the best of both the physical and digital worlds into one destination. 

For retailers, the opportunity lies in developing a hybrid approach that delivers frictionless, integrated experiences as customers move between digital and physical spaces. This could be anything from real-time, in-store stock levels and seamless click and collect through to immersive, interconnected physical or virtual stores. 

Although the merging of the two worlds is usually adopted by retailers who have both a physical and digital presence, it’s not limited. We’re seeing more and more digital only retailers experimenting with the physical world through the likes of pop up stores. But what has caused the shift to blur the lines between digital and physical shopping spaces?

Generation Z

Gen Z is a huge driving force behind the changing retail landscape. They’re true digital natives. Since a young age, they’ve been exposed to the internet, social media and smartphones. 

They currently account for 15% of the worldwide population and their spending power is growing. According to a report by ClearPay, Gen Z is spending 7% above pre-covid levels, unlike Millennials who are still at the same level as in January 2020. And by 2030, they are forecasted to account for 11% of UK retail spend. Gen Z should be a particular focus for fashion brands, as fashion accounts for 75% of their total spend.

Despite growing up in a digital world, it’s not all about online for Gen Z. In a recent survey of all age ranges, Gen Z came out most likely to go to a store to purchase a product after researching online and e-commerce accounts for only 7.4% of their shopping. 

The online world can be pretty lonely at times, so it’s not surprising that Gen Z-ers are named as one of the loneliest generations. Physical retail spaces help them to escape the digital bubble, with 58% of Gen Z stating that in-store shopping allows them to disconnect from the digital world. 

That’s why Gen Z aren’t only looking for products in stores. Three out of four are looking for a well-curated experience. But, they still use digital channels to support their shopping experience, with nearly 50% using a store’s mobile app during their visit.

And finally, Gen Z are trendsetters, so other generations will eventually follow their lead. They’re clearly a generation that retailers can’t ignore, so getting solutions in place now will pay dividends in the long run.

Consumer expectations

On the whole, consumer expectations and wants are evolving. In 2021, it was reported that 75% of consumers tried a new shopping behaviour in the previous 18 months. 

Convenience and personalisation are key factors in choosing who to shop with these days. In a survey, 68% said that a convenient customer experience will make them a return customer. Plus, 76% stated that personalised communication was a key reason in considering a brand. But, the always-on customer experience needs to transcend between digital and physical – wherever the customer may be. 

Zara is leading the charge when it comes to customer convenience. For those looking for specific products, but want to see it in real life before purchasing, Zara’s ‘store mode’ is the perfect addition to their app. It gives users the option to find the product in-store and book a fitting room to try it out. Alternatively, those looking for convenience can check the availability of a product in a local store, purchase it through the app and then collect from the store within 30 minutes. 

New technology

Alongside the changing consumer landscape, new technologies are constantly emerging with the potential to enhance customer experiences as they transition between the physical and digital world. 

Over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of Web3, as well as many brands entering the virtual world of the metaverse and experimenting with nonfungible tokens (NFTs). 

We can see why so many brands are investing in the metaverse. In the next 12 months, 43% of consumers say they are likely to enter the metaverse, and 62% of Gen Z say they are willing to make a purchase in the metaverse. Technology is key in bringing the physical and digital worlds together, and we’re seeing retailers use tech in new, creative ways to engage with customers and enhance the experience. 

Recently, Zara launched its third phygital collection, Y2K Creatures, in the metaverse. The 10 item collection can be worn both inside and outside the digital realm. For ultimate personalisation, exclusive digital accessories are available including hairstyles and wallpaper to make sure the consumer’s avatar looks just like them in real life! 
And earlier this year, H&M created its first virtual showroom experience to showcase its Innovation Story collection in a pioneering virtual environment. It allowed visitors to interact with the brand through meaningful exchanges in an immersive way. It was also a space where influencers, stylists, customers, employees and press can learn more about the brand. 

As well as virtual technology, H&M is also adopting new technologies in its stores. In 2022, the brand started using smart mirrors in selected COS stores. Shoppers can get personalised styling recommendations from the mirror based on the products they brought in. They can also request new items to be sent in without having to leave the space. Not only that, they’ve also trialled showroom floor mirrors that can assist with virtual try-ons for customers.

H&M virtual showroom

Is online-only still a viable model?

It’s understandable why we’re seeing more blended worlds, and the key role it plays for retailers. So, not only are physical retailers using digital to enhance the customer experience between in-store and online, we’re beginning to see e-commerce only retailers entering the physical space. 

In 2021, Amazon opened check-out free stores in the UK, Amazon Fresh. Customers can simply walk into the store, pick up their items and walk straight out. Cameras monitor their purchases and deduct the amount from their Amazon account. Here, Amazon is tapping into an audience that wants quick convenience, with 67% of Gen Z and 65% of Millennials saying they would visit a checkout-free supermarket. 

Then we have Deliveroo who, as mentioned, have just opened their first physical store in partnership with Morrisons, where customers can order food through the app and pop in to pick it up, as well as shop in-store for groceries via digital kiosks. The move came off the back of research they commissioned which found 24% of Londoners use rapid grocery services once a week. Again highlighting consumer demand for convenience. 

Following a few difficult years, we’re now seeing some online-only brands struggle even more. Eve Sleep has called in the administrators and ASOS issued a profit warning. Could this be due to the market heading back to the high street? And as consumers are wanting more in-person experiences, is online only potentially a flawed model? 

This may be why online-only brands are entering the physical retail space, like Gymshark which is soon to open a flagship store in London. And the likes of MATCHESFASHION that opened 5 Carlos Place to bring customers closer to the brand; fusing the digital and physical realms with curated edits, exclusive events and try at home before you purchase. 

E-commerce retailers are now recognising the importance of a physical presence to meet the wants and needs of consumers. Although not all online-only retailers are heading straight to the high streets, they’re certainly experimenting and testing the waters with physical spaces through pop up stores and launch events. 

Early this year, membership-only online beauty brand, Beauty Pie, opened a pop up store in London. The ‘warehouse of dreams’ gave shoppers the opportunity to learn more about the brand, try out their products and get advice from their team of experts. This is perfect when taking into consideration that 51% of Gen Z and Millennials value the in-store experience when buying beauty products. And, 53% of Gen Z would rather go in-store to buy beauty products.

Making data-led decisions

All this isn’t possible without data. It’s essential to understand customer needs and use data to make informed decisions. For an e-commerce only retailer to enter the physical retail space is a huge move, so it can’t be done on a whim. 

Deliveroo is a prime example of making data-informed decisions. For retailers spanning across both realms it’s essential to collect data at each touchpoint to optimise the customer experience and gain an understanding of their needs and desires.

Whether you’re an e-commerce only retailer dipping your toes into the physical space, or you’re a retailer in both worlds using digital to enhance experiences, a phygital approach can ultimately help to build brand affinity by developing deeper, meaningful connections with consumers. Which if done well, will increase engagement, customer loyalty and revenue for retailers. 

To find out how DEPT® can ensure your commerce strategy is future-ready, get in touch with our team today.

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Marketing Manager

Natalie Williams

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Before you create a design system, do these three things

DEPT Interior 62 1
Simon Fairhurst
Simon Fairhurst
Head of Design
4 October 2022

Creating a design system is typically what you think of in the early phases of your design strategy. 

But before you create a design system, a whole lot of work goes into a website or product’s design strategy. And these steps are essential to be able to successfully create a valuable design system.

Here are the steps to take before designing your system:

1. Information architecture
2. Goals of key pages 
3. Zonal definitions 

Let’s run through each of these and why they’re essential to the success of any website or product design project. 

Information architecture

The information architecture answers three important questions 

1. Approximately how many website pages do we need?
2. What is the natural hierarchy of these pages?
3. How will users interact with and flow through the site?

If you start designing without knowing the answer to these three questions, you can easily miss the mark. 

By knowing how many pages you have and establishing the hierarchy of those pages, you can start to imagine how many custom pages, template pages, and modules you will need. A good design balances uniqueness, consistent themes, and scalability. By understanding which pages are most important, it gives you more context and colour over how you will design. 

sitemap exmaple

For example, think about a SaaS company and the architectures you commonly see (like the image above).

Sometimes you see a single product page that summarises everything the user needs to know in one page. Other times, you see a product overview page and then sub-pages underneath that go further into product features or use cases. You won’t know what you need until you’ve gone through an IA workshop.  

If a user experience team discovers that a single product page is best for users, its future design will need to achieve different things compared to architecture with multiple sub-pages. 

This is how information architecture starts to inform your designs. 

Define the goal of your pages   

Your website has several goals, both qualitative and quantitative. Increased traffic, purchase frequency, demo sign-ups, app downloads, etc.

And of course, some pages are more inclined to facilitate conversions of these goals. 

page goals

Let’s go back to our example of a single product page, where the goal might be to encourage demo sign-ups. Other pages on this website could have goals like: 

– Increase trust in product and brand 
– Navigate to the product demo contact form
– Spark excitement about the product 

Outlining the goals of each page keeps designers focused on strategic outcomes and the holistic user experience. Goal setting also helps designers stay grounded and design for what the given page needs to accomplish rather than indulging in design exploration. 

Zonal definitions 

Once you have an accurate picture of total pages, core pages, and the goals for all pages, move on to zonal definitions. 

Zonal definitions answer the question, “how will we achieve the goals of each page?”

Some common zones include wayfinding, engagement, conversation, and education, but these are highly dependent on your product’s/service’s unique value.

Define all zones in an easy-to-reach list, like the one below.

zonal definitions

Using the same product example, a question that needs answering is “How will we increase demo sign-ups using this product page?” The answer to this question might be something like:

Create some excitement with potential offers, make sure users can find the exact information they need, and showcase how our values align with theirs.

From a page view, this will look like this:

1. Conversion – limited promotion or offer
2. Wayfinding – answers the user question “where am I?” 
3. Engagement – brand values and content 
4. Wayfinding – specific navigation 
5. Engagement – additional content  

By listing out (in order) how you plan to achieve sign-up goals, you’ve naturally created zonal definitions.

You’ve also created a super-low-fidelity wireframe. 

product page with zones goals

Once you’ve done this exercise for all pages, you will start to see some commonalities. Maybe on 50% of your pages, you know you need a “features and benefits” zone. And only one page on your website needs a “brand values” zone. 

In this case, knowing a certain zone is important and used frequently, you might plan to design variations of the features and benefits to keep the design fresh from page to page. And since you know brand values are only featured once, you wouldn’t design more than one. 

From these zones, you can start to understand how many modules, custom pages, and templates are needed. 

Then you can start designing and creating your design system.

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Head of Design

Simon Fairhurst

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Production Trends: Virtual Production

mandalorian stagecraft 1 scaled
Lidia Weinstein
Lidia Weinstein
26 July 2022

Virtual Production

Video production is changing rapidly. A plethora of formats which can be played back on a variety of devices dominate today’s digital space. In addition, the implementation of extended reality technologies (augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality) has made immersive content accessible to users via smartphone or tablet, opening up a space for almost infinite creative applications.

For some years now, the topic of immersion has also been increasingly explored in the production processes of film and video – virtual production.

The combination of state-of-the-art game technology and film has already made it possible to produce films in immersive studios for several years. Now this technology is mature and ready for use, experts report. What virtual production is and what impact it will have on film and video production in the future – and accordingly on brands and their marketing measures – is the subject of this insight.

What is virtual production?

Virtual production is a collective term that describes many different digital production processes. These include AR, VR, motion capture and volumetric video (more on this shortly). What we have recently become familiar with from productions such as “The Mandalorian” (2020) and what is commonly referred to as virtual production describes the possibility of producing films in an immersive studio. The entire production of a film is made possible by the combination of reality – i.e. actors and actresses, props – and digital backdrops that are generated in real time in game engines.

What does a virtual studio look like?

In principle, a virtual studio consists of an LED surface that runs in a semicircle or elliptical shape around the set and extends over the ceiling. This surface is covered with a digital backdrop, e.g. a mountain landscape with a sky above it. The possibilities for design are, as you might expect, endless. An immersive space is created with which the actors and crew can interact. For example, an actress can look at a mountain in the far distance without just imagining it, as previously on a set with a greenscreen. In addition, it is possible to experiment with the scenery: landscapes can be changed in real time or colour moods can be adjusted.

Auf dem Set von “The Mandalorian”. Filmcrew im immersiven Studio von ILM StageCraft, auch “The Volume” genannt.

On the set of “The Mandalorian”. Film crew in the immersive studio of ILM StageCraft, also called “The Volume”.

Technological developments in the gaming sector make this production process possible in the first place. To achieve a perspective match between the backdrop and the shooting angle, the camera movement in the room is tracked. The room is measured volumetrically beforehand – volumetry refers to a technical measuring procedure in which a room is measured three-dimensionally. The computer can then track all the elements in front of the camera lens and place them in a 3D environment. The game engine then renders the 3D environment in real time – currently, the Unreal Engine is probably the most powerful. The Meta Festival initiated by DEPT® and Journee is also based on the Unreal Engine.

Since the backdrop is already part of the production, the post-production is brought forward and integrated into the pre-production. In some cases, post-production is not necessary at all, since the backdrop exists for every scene and the light emitted by the LED surface already creates the desired colour world. The green screen can still be used to achieve certain effects. It is then simply projected over the LED surface as well. 

A selection of films made on virtual sets: “The Batman” (2022), “The Mandalorian” (2020), “Ripple Effect” (2020), “Lion King” (2019), “First Man” (2018). Another innovation in the field of virtual production is volumetric video.

What is volumetric video?

Volumetric video is produced in a special volumetric studio and refers to a video where pixels have not two but three spatial coordinates – giving it volume. In a volumetric studio, cameras are installed so that the object is recorded from all perspectives. Through this recording process, the object can later be viewed from any perspective, similar to gaming, with the difference that the degree of representation is much more realistic.
This technology is particularly interesting for use in the metaverse, e.g. for the creation of photorealistic avatars. A film in which volumetric video was used is, for example, “Matrix Resurrections” (2021). Many shots from the film were created in the Babelsberg studio Volucap

Das Volucap Studio in Babelsberg.

The Volucap Studio in Babelsberg.

Volumetric video has the further advantage that the camera perspective can be changed in post-production and is not limited by the camera movement as before. This is particularly interesting for interactive films in which the viewers can explore the space themselves. 

The possibilities of virtual production grant filmmakers unprecedented control over all elements and brings great flexibility. For example, the film crew is no longer dependent on local weather conditions and can avoid long journeys to locations. Scenes can be replicated afterwards, as lighting conditions and backdrops can be recreated exactly. 

Virtual production has also accelerated production processes tremendously. This is reflected above all in production costs, which means that virtual production is increasingly becoming the focus of producers.

What do these developments mean for future film and video production?

The transition to digital production will change the professional field from the ground up; for example, think of production designers who will no longer build physical sets but digital ones in the future. Art departments will become virtual art departments or hybrids. Virtual set objects will become reusable and monetisable, e.g. in the form of NFTs

There are several arguments in favour of entering virtual production: maximum creative control, flexibility, sustainability – the elimination of building huge sets on locations, transporting film crews and the associated logistics – and correspondingly lower costs.

Will virtual production replace conventional production? Not quite, because it doesn’t make sense in every case. It is therefore worthwhile to subject a project to a proof-of-concept at the beginning to determine which production method is best suited. Nevertheless, one can follow this development with interest.

DEPT® has experts on hand to advise and support you throughout all phases of production. Further information is available on our Production service page. We look forward to working with you!

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Lidia Weinstein

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How to accelerate your omnichannel retail experience

Which B2C Commerce Platform is right for your Business1

30 June 2022

The face of retail is forever changing. With constant changes in consumer behaviour paired with increased competition, it’s becoming more and more difficult to gain competitive advantage, not to mention the heightened pressure on brand’s bottom line.

Retailers are well aware of the consumer’s expectations. According to Adobe, 53% are expecting demands on their digital experience to accelerate beyond what they’ve already witnessed over the past two years. And although retail growth is set to slow down, from an estimated 3.7% in 2022 to an optimistic 1.2% in 2023, there is still a real opportunity for retailers to deliver an out-of-this-world shopping experience to strengthen consumer connections and drive sales.

And it’s not all about digital. Footfall at bricks-and-mortar stores increased by 4.1% across the UK in June. The future of retail isn’t solely digital or in-store, it’s phygital. Believe it or not customers still want that in-store experience, but they want a seamless brand experience across all touchpoints, wherever they may be. 

Ultimately, being ahead of the curve is going to be essential to thrive. So how can retailers stay ahead, stand out from the competition and ensure they are present and optimising every stage of the customer journey?

Cue omnichannel, again

Yes, omnichannel has been a hot topic for a number of years, but retailers are struggling to execute it well. Long-term survival requires retailers to move from a multichannel to an omnichannel approach to deliver the frictionless brand experiences your customers are demanding. 

Almost half of e-commerce decision-makers in Europe and North America agree that omnichannel strategies are ‘very important’. But what about the other half? This suggests that not everyone is getting it right and improvements are required to deliver results and push omnichannel up the importance list! But let’s refresh, what is omnichannel? And how is it different from multichannel? 

A multichannel approach treats each channel as its own independent entity, delivering a consistent brand message but not necessarily connected. Therefore the way customers interact with each channel is siloed, preventing internal teams from having a full view of their customers and data. You could have an amazing website and an engaging social media campaign, but if they’re not working together then you’re not giving the customer a seamless experience.

Whereas omnichannel marketing is all about coordination activity across all channels to deliver a personalised brand experience with the customer at the heart, removing any friction along the buyer’s journey, whether that’s online or in-store. This also allows internal teams to build a full customer profile with valuable data to continuously improve and deliver personalisation. 

The future of omnichannel

To us, the future of omnichannel is all about delivering a true ‘phygital’ shopping experience. Phygital retail is combining the best of physical and digital into one. A popular example of this now is click and collect, but that’s only touching the tip of the iceberg. We’re seeing more immersive brand experiences bringing both worlds together, from Charlotte Tilbury’s virtual store to H&M’s virtual showroom

Taking this a step further, we expect to see these virtual stores and showrooms, as well as brick and mortar stores harnessing the power of data to become more and more personalised to the customer in the future. Whether that’s a sales assistant knowing what is in your favourites, or a customised virtual store showing you the products you’re running low on. The possibilities are endless. 

HM Virtual Showroom Hero Image

Here are 3 key considerations for retailers when implementing an omnichannel strategy: 

01 Get ready for a cookieless world 

Data is at the heart of any personalised experience retailers deliver. Therefore the demise of third party cookies will pose a challenge, but it also presents an exciting opportunity for brands to optimise their omnichannel strategy. At the end of the day, the more first-party data retailers have at their disposal, the more personailsed, omnichannel experience they can deliver.

However, according to Adobe, 37% of retailers believe their organisation is ill-prepared for the post-cookie world. And surprisingly, only 16% of senior executives chose “improving our ability to establish identity without cookies” as one of their top two investment areas in 2022. 

It may have been postponed until 2023, but that’s not an excuse to put it on the backburner this year. It’s time for brands to up their first-party data strategies now, in order to stay ahead. Value exchange and complete transparency are key here. Consumers aren’t going to part with their precious data unless they trust you and what they get in return is of high value to them. 

02 Using data the right way

First-party strategy nailed? Good. Now use it… but in the right way! Let’s be honest, there’s no point having all of this valuable data to hand if it’s not used correctly. Nearly a third of retailers say they are ineffective in using their first-party data to personalise the customer experience. 

An omnichannel strategy will help to collect customer data from each touchpoint, but it’s important to manage and analyse your data to develop a full customer profile and get a deep understanding of their wants, needs and motivations. 

Then it’s all about using that data to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right message to deliver a strong personalised experience to the customer.  

And H&M does just that. On their app you can ‘activate in-store mode’ which allows your shopping assistant to help you find what you’re looking for, whether that’s checking your favourite items are in stock in a local store or whether another size or colour is available. Using their customer’s data and providing them with the exact information they need at the right time and in the right place gives them the convenience and ease of use they are wanting. They also serve personalised offers based on your previous shopping habits, all which can be used either online, in-store or on the app. 

03 Put the customer first

Customer loyalty is dwindling, especially with such fierce competition in the retail space. But we all know it costs less to retain customers than it does to acquire new ones, so a personalised, omnichannel customer experience could pay dividends.

The essence of an omnichannel strategy is all about putting the customer first. If your customers feel valued, a part of your brand and always have a positive interaction at every touchpoint, then they’re likely to become repeat customers, which in turn increases your customer lifetime value – a no brainer. And, there are so many ways you can deliver just that, whether it be through loyalty programs, timely emails or exclusive in-store events.

By preparing for the cookieless world and then using your first-party data in the right way, you’ll already be making great strides in improving customer loyalty and retention rates.

KFC partnered with DEPT® to deliver an omnichannel digital transformation. We created an online and mobile experience by using insight-driven personalisation to give customers a fun and convenient experience, connecting online ad in-person experiences. In the app, customers were able to re-order their favourites and be served recommendations based on their previous purchases and behaviours. The app also included new features such as progress bars and digital ticketing, which enables a more seamless pick-up and drive-thru.

Choosing the right tech architecture

Delivering a successful omnichannel strategy isn’t possible without the right tech architecture in place. Traditionally, retailers kept e-commerce and their in-store tech architecture separate, but this hinders retailers from being able to implement a true omnichannel experience.

The right technology solution can provide seamless integration of online and offline channels, facilitating the end-to-end customer experience, as well as providing retailers with the ability to manage data at scale. But how do you know which solution is best? There’s no one-size-fits-all, it boils down to each brand’s unique requirements. 

A headless technology stack is becoming increasingly popular. This has meant that many DXP providers have started to move away from the monolithic approach to offer a hybrid solution: composable DXPs. These allow retailers to have a greater degree of flexibility, breaking free from the constraints of large implementation updates and platform lock-ins. It also lets teams adopt a best-of-breed methodology.

But a composable solution is by no means the only option. A ‘Monolithic’ digital experience platform, also referred to as suites, can provide retailers with everything they may need to execute an omnichannel strategy. Providing a single platform to manage and optimise all stages of the customer journey could be the ideal solution. It does however come with some limitations, such as being locked into a single vendor or technology. 

Ultimately, it’s all about having a platform with the right systems connected to enable omnichannel and that is best suited to your business. 

The phygital shopping experience is here to stay, and an omnichannel retail strategy allows brands to deliver just that. Retailers need to invest now or risk being left behind. With the right solution in place and a strong omnichannel strategy, you will take your customers on a seamless, personalised experience, however and wherever they choose to shop with you. 

Get in touch with our experts today to find out how we can help you define or accelerate your omnichannel retail strategy.

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Strategy Director

Lizzie Powell

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Guide to user testing – types & timeline

user testing guide focus group
Jesse Stevens
Jesse Stevens
Senior Product Strategist
15 June 2022

The only way to get a product right is through user testing

While assumptions can be useful, ultimately a product needs to be put in the hands of users to see if it solves their core needs. 

In fact, pairing user testing alongside market and product fit is the trifecta in building your product strategy. When teams do these things, they are more efficient in every other area of development, accelerating product roadmaps and finding ROI faster. 

This knowledge only comes from solving your user’s underlying problems, which comes from testing.

In this guide to user testing, we’ll take you through the types of user testing, when each should be used, and how to use them in a realistic product life cycle. 

user testing guide focus group

Types of User Tests 

There are two categories of user testing, qualitative vs quantitative.

Qualitative testing is learning about a user’s interpretations and feelings, while quantitative is number-based and measurable. An example might be interviewing a single user about their needs and motivations vs A/B testing a single interface element or user flow. 

When conducting your quantitative data, be sure to account for statistical significance, otherwise, your results could be by chance and not a real consensus of users. 

For the best results, you need both qualitative and quantitative testing. Here are the top user tests and how they help.  

Usability testing

One of the most important and popular tests, usability testing asks a user to complete a particular task with feedback while a moderator watches and documents. These kinds of tests are essential because they put a real human behind a device.

With this, you can learn about their problems, how they navigate, how they search for information, and what they like/dislike about a certain product. 

Direct observation

With direct observation, you observe without interaction. Seeing a user easily find information or struggle to complete a sign-up can shed light on how easy your application is to use. 


With prototyping, your user is reviewing a prototype, not a full-fledged app. Sometimes these prototypes are low fidelity wireframes, sometimes they’re high fidelity and clickable. Since development is expensive and time-consuming, you don’t want to begin developing without testing some kind of prototype. 

A/B testing

Comparing two options to find the superior one can be a fast way to iterate. Is a user more likely to respond to a “Contact Us” CTA or “Let’s Talk”? Does a blue button work better than a red button? With A/B testing, you can get useful data and make rapid-fire decisions. 

Treejack testing

Treejack testing is ideal for information architecture testing, which is essential for any complex website or product. You can ask questions like, “if you wanted to find the location nearest to you, what page would you click on?” and then record all interactions. 

Eye-tracking and heat mapping

Eye-tracking and heat map testing can be expensive, but it’s worthwhile for some products. With these tests, you can measure where your users are looking and where they’re clicking on your app– to understand if you are providing the right information in the right place. 

In-person vs remote

You can conduct all of these tests in-person, remote, or automatically. Remember to take these different environments into account when analyzing data, because different atmospheres can affect users’ opinions and how they interact with technology. 

user testing scaled 1

When & how often should a team test?

Like most answers to design-related questions, “It depends.” 

Minimum viable products (MVPs) need different testing compared to a legacy app. A single-page web app needs different testing versus a large e-commerce store. So, unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution. 

A robust discovery session is a good practice. This process helps strategists understand the problem space and craft a program to tackle the issue. It also helps designers determine how to test and when. 

However, we can provide some general guidelines which are:

Test often

A strong design process starts with discovery and definition, before diving into ideation. Then, repetition is essential. 

Ideate – Prototype – Test as needed

Ideate – Prototype – Test as needed  

Every time you iterate, you need to ask yourself, “should we test this?” While a single colour swap won’t require standalone testing, a new feature will. 

You also have a budget to consider. Testing every small thing will cost you time and money, so have discussions, ask questions, and keep testing on your team’s mind. 

Lightweight iterations = quantitative tests 

There are always exceptions to this rule, but it’s generally true. 

A “lightweight iteration” is difficult to define, but it’s likely something that can be A/B tested and decided upon with analytics. 

Heavyweight iterations = qualitative tests 

Also exceptions here, but when you do more intensive iterations, like developing new features or launching to a new audience, you need to sit down and talk to users. Understanding not just what they like, but why they like it can be incredibly insightful. 

Internal vs external testing 

If you’re in the very beginning stages of product development (think wireframes), we recommend testing with internal stakeholders. 

Don’t go outside of your organisation until you have high-fidelity prototypes. After all, every product needs stakeholders to sign off before digging into the design. 

user testing emoney visual dept scaled

Real product testing: eMoney 

Rooted in comprehensive financial planning, eMoney’s products strengthen client relationships, streamline business operations, and drive overall growth. 

eMoney’s goal was to extend its product to a new audience: millennials. 

Together with eMoney, we came up with five concepts that could potentially reach their target of millennial users. We then kicked off a series of design sprints, where we built out prototypes for eMoney concepts and tested them with real users. It became clear that users gravitated towards one of the concepts more than others, which was a mobile app that could provide financial wellness advice and complement the existing eMoney software-as-a-service platform. 

This was the beginning of what became eMoney Incentive.

We learned through testing and development that Incentive appealed to a wider audience beyond millennials.

Because of this rigorous testing, eMoney’s pilot program created a strong pipeline of interested users, including current users, retirement plan advisors, and employers.  

If your product needs a user testing strategy put in place, reach out to the designers and product innovators at DEPT®. 

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Senior Product Strategist

Jesse Stevens

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Unlocking the power of digital in FMCG

iStock 1324688245

10 February 2022
iStock 1324688245

The pandemic put the spotlight on digital like never before. When footfall dropped and working from home became the norm, investment in digital solutions surged. FMCGs, just like companies across every other sector in the UK, fast-tracked digital transformation projects by an average of three years.

But as the world returns to a new normal, what does the future of digital adoption look like for FMCGs? How does it offer solutions to the short, medium and long term challenges facing the industry; such as the supply chain crisis, the demise of third party data that will impact consumer insight, or the need to tackle sustainability? Where do the opportunities to use digital technology to drive competitive advantage lie? Let’s find out.

Using advanced analytics is a major driver for top-line growth, as insights into consumer decision journeys can boost sales.

Giusy Buonfantino, Vice President of Consumer Packaged Goods, Google Cloud

The AI and big data challenge

AI remains big news for FMCG marketers because it enables highly personalised experiences that drive sales. As Giusy Buonfantino, Vice President of Consumer Packaged Goods at Google Cloud, says: “Our research shows that using advanced analytics is a major driver for top-line growth, as insights into consumer decision journeys can boost sales.”

There’s a crunch point coming, though. FMCGs operating traditional sales and marketing models will inevitably lose ground in the use of AI because it’s nothing without big data. With the demise of third party data sharing, FMCGs without their own first party data will lose sight of who their customers are and what they are looking for, leaving them behind the curve.

FMCG marketers must therefore explore ways to build their own data sets, such as through the implementation of customer data platforms, if they want to continue to reap the rewards of AI and big data. This means harnessing the power of the latest technologies to engage consumers online. Let’s explore this next.

Joining the metaverse

FMCGs occupy an interesting advertising and marketing space in the digital age. Essentials are more likely to be purchased in a bricks-and-mortar store (78%) than online (57%), even post-pandemic. But online is where conversations are taking place – and it’s where first party data is collected, which means it has to be a focus for FMCG marketers. 

In such a noisy and competitive landscape, the imperative is to find ways to stand out. This is further complicated by today’s savvy audiences.  Gartner says that by 2024, 40% of consumers will trick behaviour tracking metrics to intentionally devalue the personal data collected about them, which is perhaps why IDC says that in the same timescale 35% of brands will openly incentivise consumers to share personal data in exchange for cash rewards, services and exclusive experiences.

AR/VR, gamification and the metaverse all offer exciting new ways for FMCGs to lead the conversation and give consumers a premium experience that will give them a good reason to share their data.

When FMCGs create such experiences they drive brand awareness and – ultimately – sales. Virtual try-on tools in beauty and fashion as well as furniture visualisation tools for homewares businesses are already out there. For brands with an ambitious focus, NFTs offer an interesting new opportunity. Working with Byte (part of Dept), Lagunitas just became the first brand within The Heineken Company to enter the LATAM NFT segment, providing a new experience for consumers who enjoy exploring disruptive universes.

These technologies aren’t limited to marketing either. They also offer interesting new opportunities when it comes to product development. Rather than developing resource-intensive prototypes, how could AR/VR work? FMCGs that make use of the tools available could reduce development costs. They’ll certainly give themselves the ability to test new products with bigger numbers of consumers. Improved sustainability will be another benefit, which is something that 54% of consumers intend to prioritise once the pandemic subsides.

The multi-faceted benefits of D2C

D2C took off for FMCGs during the pandemic although analysts and commentators are increasingly highlighting the pitfalls of major FMCGs going D2C, especially at scale. Chris Worrell, Head of Strategy at Wavemaker Worldwide, says: “Established FMCGs that want to leverage the D2C distribution model need to be fully cognisant of the hidden costs involved, weighing the opportunity cost vs their traditional, albeit unfashionable, route to market.”

But opportunities still remain. In a world where FMCGs are caught between raw material price rises on one side and retailers wanting to avoid passing on costs to consumers on the other, initiatives that cut out the retailer remain attractive. Small forays into D2C in particular can be quickly rolled out so appetite can be judged. It’s also the case that even a small offering is another way to gather first party data.

Digitising the supply chain

The supply chain challenges that have dominated recent months look set to continue deep into 2022. A digitised supply chain and next-generation technology provides the visibility required to take control. For example, IoT sensors can be used to gather the data required by AI systems and equip FMCGs to enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve decision-making.

Such technologies offer exciting possibilities but even in existing setups, there is often plenty of data that provides insights. For many FMCGs the issue is more about an inability to access the data they already have. Data and intelligence dashboards can offer a solution to this issue, pulling the insights that are needed in the way that they’re needed. 

Even equipped with the data, bear in mind that visibility of issues may not – at this point – be the same as resolving issues. And it would be unwise to think that consumers will be patient about shortages. Note Forrester’s 2022 prediction: “Customers are already frustrated by empty shelves and long (sometimes unknown) wait times to receive products, a situation that will get worse before it gets better. This means that brands can no longer rely on a plethora of products as their main selling point; instead, they will have to use CX to differentiate themselves.” It’s an issue that brings us back to the importance of big data and the value in creating memorable experiences.

Pick the right focus

There is no end in sight to the turbulence faced by FMCGs in the past two years – it’s simply that one set of challenges has been replaced by another. But just as digital offered possibilities during the pandemic, it offers possibilities now. 

Technology offers a way to overcome most challenges, and there are exciting possibilities for FMCGs wanting to seize competitive advantage. Securing the wins will, as always, depend on creating a clearly focused strategy and working with the right partner on execution.

Get in touch to discuss how DEPT®’s experts can help your FMCG organisation unlock the power of digital technology.

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Strategy Director

Lizzie Powell

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The reinvention of online retail and how to act

iStock 1160939955
Alexandra Moorhouse
Alexandra Moorhouse
Senior Marketing Manager
27 January 2022

The online retail industry is booming. In July 2021, UK online retail sales reached a record £10bn, a 56% increase on the same period in 2019. Reuters also found that 70% of Britons now prefer shopping online or mobile, up from less than half pre-pandemic. But as the world begins to open up again, consumers are returning to the high street. In the third week of January 2022, UK high street footfall rose 7.2% compared to the previous week, and it’s only expected to accelerate. The demand for brick and mortar stores is far from dead and with restrictions easing around the globe, the competition between e-commerce and high street retailers will only get fiercer.

To entice customers in, physical stores are raising their game to become ‘destinations’. And online retailers need to ideate and implement even faster in order to compete. Online shopping will no longer be relied upon, so it needs to become less about convenience and focus on becoming a digital ‘destination’ in itself – a place where customers go to do much more than mindlessly browse and buy products. Brands like Patagonia and de Bijenkorf are leading the pack, with creativity, technology and data underpinning their approach. Striking the right balance of these three pillars, brands can recreate a shopping destination in the digital world, resulting in a website that customers keep coming back to, and in turn reinventing the online retail space. It’s already happening, but here are some of the ways we see e-commerce being reshaped in 2022.

Social storefronts

Social media is quickly becoming a platform to transact as well as gain inspiration. Any brand with a social audience has the potential to make money through shoppable content, which is a popular concept amongst younger generations. In 2021, half of consumers aged 18-34 made at least one purchase on social media. Although a third of brands already tapped into the trend in 2021, there’s still ample opportunity for others to get involved before the space is crowded. 

The sociable aspect of social commerce is one of the reasons it’s increasing in popularity. For many, in-person shopping is a social experience. 81% of consumers’ purchasing choices are swayed by their friends’ social posts and recommendations, and 78% are influenced by brands’ posts. While traditional online shopping is distinctly unsocial, social e-commerce is the perfect solution to fill the void. Social commerce provides brands with an opportunity to sell at a point in the journey where customers are most active and inspired; turning social media engagement into sales. With minimal investment, companies can quickly and directly reach desired demographics and generate revenue while maintaining brand equity.

Phygital experiences

For retailers that have both a physical and digital presence, opportunity lies in shedding the siloed model of online vs offline to develop a hybrid approach that facilitates seamless, integrated experiences as customers move from the digital world to the physical. Almost two thirds of shopping journeys start online, but they don’t have to finish there. Just some of the ways a blended, ‘phygital’ strategy can be implemented could include providing customers with real-time stock levels at their local store, so that they can reserve and collect in a matter of hours; or book in-store shopping appointments where the sales rep has access to the customer’s purchase and browsing history and can make personalised recommendations.

AR-powered shopping

At least 30% of all products ordered online are returned, compared to only 9% in brick and mortar stores. One of the most common reasons is that the product received looked different to what it did online. Enter augmented reality (AR) e-commerce, which gives people the opportunity to virtually touch, move, and see a product from every angle before they make a purchase online. 

AR is hardly a new innovation, but it’s a trend that’s becoming an essential part of what customers expect from online shopping. Last year, Snapchat and Deloitte Digital found that over 100 million customers shop with AR and that, by 2025, 75% of the global population will become frequent users. Creating amazing AR applications will not only create competitive advantage; it provides the opportunity to increase customer engagement, help attract new customers and boost conversion rates.

Metaverse mania

The metaverse is for the pioneers of ‘phygital’, where the two previously separate worlds of shopping converge to completely redefine e-commerce. In the metaverse, a combination of tech innovations operate seamlessly to bring technologies like NFTs, social commerce, AR and VR into the physical world. Gaining a name for itself as the new iteration of the internet, brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, Disney, BMW and Snap are using first-mover momentum to step into the metaverse, maximising its potential by creating virtual fashion, assets, content, communities and experiences.

Data-fuelled personalisation

Access to first-party data is essential to fuel next-level innovation, and will become even more apparent as we move into a cookie-less world. To access this data, businesses must create a strong value exchange, where customers are willing to hand over their personal details for a heightened brand experience. Digital-first businesses like Spotify are raising the bar in this realm and, in turn, customer expectations. The brand’s annual ‘Spotify Wrapped’ campaign delivers a true one-to-one, personalised experience for users. The campaign is built on data, which is applied in a way that creates an engaging experience for users and is delivered without any immediate conversion, strengthening the value exchange as users don’t feel like they’re being sold to. 

The e-commerce industry is still some way behind the likes of Spotify, with personalisation efforts being largely focused on short term conversion through email marketing and retargeting methods, rather than how it can benefit brand-consumer relationships in the long term. But in order to catch up, focus needs to be switched to creating a strong value exchange through experience which, in turn, will have a positive impact on sales and loyalty.

Brand storytelling

In such a crowded market, a strong brand identity is imperative. Google reports that 80% of customers carry out research online before making a purchase. And without making an impression, your brand will be overlooked. This amplifies the importance of a strong brand identity and story that is told across all digital touchpoints, helping you build deeper connections with customers at every stage in their journey. DEPT® delivered this ‘branded commerce’ approach for Patagonia, crafting a design solution that brought its massive product and content library to life with UX that echoes its values and tells the brand’s story at every touchpoint – resulting in a 25% increase in mobile revenue.

The e-commerce landscape looks very different to how it did a few years ago, and it’s set to evolve again through the wide-scale implementation and acceleration of these digital technologies. Although each of them has a different weighting of creativity and data, they are all underpinned by technology, making it the cornerstone of online retail reinvention. 

To find out how DEPT® can ensure your commerce strategy is future-ready to meet consumers’ ever changing demands, get in touch with our team today.

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Senior Marketing Manager

Alexandra Moorhouse

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