How Should Brands Approach the Customer Experience Now and After the Pandemic?

Experts from Blue Acorn iCi and Snipes on improving the user journey

The Strategies for Transforming the Customer Experience panel at Adweek's The Future of Shopping virtual summit. Adweek
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The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an explosion in online shopping and physical store closures in the U.S. To survive, brands will need to adapt their customer experience to changes in shopping behaviors.

In conversation with Adweek’s senior editor of brands Robert Klara during The Future of Shopping virtual event, Jenna Flateman Posner, vp of digital at sneaker and streetwear brand Snipes, and Chris Guerra, co-CEO of Blue Acorn iCi, a data-driven ecommerce consultancy, discussed CX strategies brands should consider to find success now and in a post-pandemic world.

Editor’s note: Blue Acorn iCi sponsored this panel.

Integrate content and commerce

As online shopping continues to boom, Guerra said brands should stop treating content and commerce as two separate entities, and start integrating product stories into the search experience to drive conversions.

“Brands should be able to tell the story about their product better than anyone else,” he said. “Customers are spending more time on sites. How do you insert content on a category page, or tell the story incrementally versus having it off to the side? That’s one gap we see in the marketplace.”

Guerra added that brands need to have a content-first approach when it comes to achieving customer loyalty.

“If you can get a customer to come to your site for a reason beyond just buying, that’s a win,” he said.

Use data to foster loyalty

Posner said Snipes has seen a 300% growth in new customers since the pandemic began because the brand didn’t pull back marketing spend once its U.S. stores had to close—and selling exclusive shoes online has kept customers lining up digitally.

She also stressed that leveraging data, rather than relying on loyalty programs, will be key to keeping repeat customers.

“I see loyalty as a data-capture strategy,” she said. “It’s about knowing who your customers are and incenting them to the next best outcome.”

Snipes is working with companies including Blue Acorn iCi to capture cross-channel data to determine the best customer loyalty strategies. Guerra said his firm uses qualitative tools such as heat mapping to monitor where users move through the site, and quantitative tools like Google Analytics to determine return on ad spend.

Create an online brick-and-mortar experience

As physical stores reopen in certain regions, not all consumers will return to their pre-pandemic shopping rituals. Posner and Guerra said brands need strategize how to translate the in-store experience to the digital space.

“With ecommerce, you’re on a website where you can choose your own adventure,” Guerra said. “Brands that will win will figure out how to guide someone [as if they’re] in a retail store.”

Posner added that Snipes’ leadership team is brainstorming ways to use technology to pivot experiences customers would normally have with in-store sales associates.

“We have to prepare for the fact we may have a Covid-19 resurgence, or consumers may just not want to visit a physical store,” she said. “The pandemic has presented an opportunity to change the way we do business and to serve customers not in proximity to our stores.”

Don't miss the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience Nov. 16-19. Gain insights from leading sports figures on how they navigated a year of upsets and transformation and what's in store for the coming year. Register Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.