How User Experience matters in multichannel commerce – Part I

As customers are interacting with more and more channels and touchpoints, it becomes essential for brands to adapt to their context and deliver meaningful interactions in order to satisfy their growing expectations.

Following the relaunch of its ecommerce site at the end of 2013, Halfords online sales have risen 13.7% from the same time last year.

Whenever adding a new channel, improving an existing touchpoint or redesigning the entire omnichannel setup of a brand, User Experience expertise actively participates to increasing conversion rates, repeat purchase and ultimately market share.

The role of the User Experience consultant is to shape up the engagement inherent to a specific user situation and objectives and the goals set by the business

The User Experience consultant role is to shape up the engagement inherent to a specific user situation and objectives and the goals set by the business

Putting the user at the center of the multichannel strategy

When designing consumer touchpoint interactions, knowing customers better helps prioritize features and set the emphasis on what they are expecting from the brand or retailer. Beyond offering customers what they want to buy, succeeding in multichannel retail requires also selling them HOW and WHEN they want to buy, which obviously can vary from one person to another.

Visualization output such as Personas and User Journeys make it easier for company stakeholders to project themselves into how users are going to interact with offerings. Personas help getting into the customer shoes, thus reducing the risk of bias when making key choices pertaining to creating the right customer experience. They also facilitate federating the company’s team efforts thanks to a unique point of view, the one of the customer. This may help departments (Sales & Marketing, Product, Customer Centre etc.) realign their strategy and plans to better cater for the needs of the target customers.

As the customer is at the center of the design process, the most important aspect of User Experience is understanding what customers aim at reaching and why, and then translating this into the right User Experience. Wireframing of the future experience is a critical part of the process; wireframes done without proper research, interviews and customer data can prove harmful to the company: there is a risk the designer designs for himself/herself or base his/her work on an inadequate perception of the customer.

On their homepage, not only Microsoft is not using the right tool to hear from their customers, they are also breaking the product discovery experience with an inadequately placed interruption (Microsoft website screenshot, January 7th, 2015).

On their homepage, not only Microsoft is not using the right tool to hear from their customers, they are also breaking the product discovery experience with an inadequately placed interruption (Microsoft website screenshot, January 7th, 2015).

Identifying opportunities in the context of use

Adding a channel requires taking perception and context of use into consideration, which a good User Experience precisely helps achieving.

Burberry engages their audience differently depending on the social sharing platform users are on, from a product-driven Facebook page to a "backstage" Instagram account.

Burberry engages their audience differently depending on the social sharing platform users are on, from a product-driven Facebook page to a “backstage” Instagram account.

User Experience design should be based on the essence of the brand, the nature of the retail presence, the offering as well as the distribution channels, but most importantly the context of the interaction. The engagement between the consumer and a brand should be appropriate, meaningful and based upon the user’s objectives.

For this reason, mapping a multichannel User Journey out is a must: it helps projecting oneself into the context, where the person is coming from and what would be the next step towards (re)purchase. It also helps pointing out the risks and where the business could lack presence based on the pertinence or importance of an engagement.

Designing the right interaction for the right touchpoint

Each digital touchpoint has its own set of psychological and physical properties. It is today commonly agreed that designing interactions on a phone is different to a tablet or a desktop.

Thanks to the user and context knowledge gathered by the User Experience consultant, each interaction will be fine tuned and take into account user objectives, state-of-mind, and prioritize displayed information and calls to action, as well as some of the touchpoint’s limitations.

Sources

Halfords, the Customer Journey from Search to Checkout – econsultancy.com
Building A Luxury Brand Image In A Digital World – Gulf Business

2 thoughts on “How User Experience matters in multichannel commerce – Part I

  1. Pingback: How User Experience matters in multichannel commerce – part II - Azur Digital

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