The future of e-commerce is channel-less. At Philips we know that too. Behind the scenes we’re working hard on a new customer experience, hyper-personalized and seamlessly connecting to what the customer wants. In my role as Senior Product Owner at Philips, it is my job to interpret what our customers want. Together with my colleagues, I work on an optimal, and renewed, customer experience. It is a puzzle that we now want to and must solve.
One order, one customer experience
The customer experience we previously offered at Philips was not optimal. I’m not afraid to admit that. One example? If the customer wanted to order a product from the spare parts catalogue and something from the regular catalogue, a message would literally appear on the screen: pay for the first product and then shop again for a second one. That, of course, is absolutely not customer-oriented.
The idea of designing one customer experience – a seamless customer journey – builds on the necessity for and the need for one URL, one web shop, and ultimately one order for all products that can be ordered from Philips. Therefore, we have launched a major initiative that revolves around the optimal online shopping experience and customer journey. As it looks now, we will go live in the third quarter of this year. That is fast, and it has to be. We like to be one step ahead with our functionalities.
It is clear that our customers are waiting for a hyper-personal customer experience. A fully transparent interaction is the motto, especially when it comes to the customer journey that customers take with a brand, company or in a web shop. Building one kind of customer experience is the ultimate goal. At Philips, not only the operation of the webshop, but also the entire customer experience is always tested with the customer. The information we obtain from this communication with the customer is extremely valuable. Are there any cumbersome elements in the web shop? Then we immediately set to work on them.
Seamless and scalable – a Customer Experience that goes beyond
Personalization is not a new concept in marketing and e-commerce. Customers want a unique shopping experience that is tailored to their preferences. This trend has been around for some time. So, what’s next? Hyper-personalization. And this is increasingly possible thanks to the growing possibilities of data.
A big and important part of the hyper-personalization curve is the bond of trust that is created with customers. We have the data. We know what our customers want, and increasingly what they need, and at what time. This is information you can use proactively. When a customer’s stock is in danger of running out, we at Philips, for example, more and more often know this before the customer does. We are moving more and more in the direction of one-to-one personalization. And this has everything to do with the “scalability” of a website. The experience must become dynamic.
The customer as an individual – that’s what it’s all about. Far beyond the cumbersome and generalizing personas that have to represent a large group of customers, we like to look at the specific customer who comes to us within a certain segment and with a certain need. Because our products were previously distributed mainly via our partners and almost never directly to us, the customer has undergone a kind of transformation within Philips. With the arrival of our web shops, we at Philips of course also see that our customers can and want to be facilitated directly. And we strongly feel that our customers need a seamless experience.
Even more dynamic, even more personal
A key word in thinking about these processes of optimizing an e-commerce channel is ‘relevance’. Amongst other things, algorithms are used to personalize the customer experience as much as possible. Imagine for instance a hospital, a customer of Philips. Employees of this hospital log in to our web shop and immediately have insight into all types of MRI scanners they use in their hospital. A simple navigation option takes you to all the spare parts that apply to that hospital, based on the machines they have. But if, on the other hand, you log in as a distributor and you resell Philips products to end customers, this specific insight is superfluous. For example, while for one customer the ROI of a specific machine is important, for another customer it is necessary to have direct insight into order lists for consumables.
“You have to make the customer experience as relevant as possible. Relevance is what personalization is all about.”
So, for Philips it is now interesting to go even deeper into this one-to-one personalization. At user level, we go a few layers deeper. It can be much more personal. For example, we are now working on the pre-filled shopping card, a functionality that allows you to e-mail your complete order, so that the other person only has to click through to order.
Customer first, just like you’re used to from Philips
Our customer first principle is the foundation for our ambition to organize the customer experience as dynamically, transparently and personally as possible. The customer experience must ultimately be organized at element level; items in a web shop, for example, can then be completely different for each customer. All depending on the needs and requirements of our individual customers. The channel-less curve is steep, but it is one that we at Philips are happy to go along with. You cannot stand still in the world of e-commerce. Because standing still is going backwards.
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