Allen Weiner

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Allen Weiner
Research VP
7 years at Gartner
23 years IT industry

Allen Weiner shares insights on how to monetize digital marketing through commerce. His focus on “Commerce Everywhere” provides perspective on how social, mobile, search and emerging channels can be tapped to improve customer experiences and drive business results … Read Full Bio

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What’s The Big Deal About Commerce Experiences?

by Allen Weiner  |  February 14, 2014  |  1 Comment

With the trumped-up hullabaloo around the golden anniversary of the Beatles performance on the iconic “Ed Sullivan Show,” I have to show my age in a word association game that reflects my topic du jour. When I think of the word “experience,” which is thrown around in digital marketing circles without any regard to meaning or context, I see the image of Jimi Hendrix (with band mates) on the bright yellow album cover for “Are Your Experienced?” While I have always thought I understood Hendrix’s application of term, I am intrigued by what digital marketers mean when they refer to “experiences,” especially as they relate to commerce.

Perhaps millennial and others in desirable target demos delight over layer upon layer of meandering distraction as they click about their favorite online shopping site. At issue would be creating a path that focuses more on edutainment and neglects the injection of transaction opportunities within the experience. Is this a case of consumers wanting to navigate from review to video to rating to product description to purchase contemplation or digital marketers thinking that’s what consumers want? Or, is it a case of digital marketers feeling to need to implement every techno-social trend that passes through their RSS inbox? My days of face-to-face selling gives me pause the recall that you never want to give a customer the time to change his mind which is what led to the time-honored saying: capture the hot lead. While pouring information into the buying journey empowers a customer to make informed decision, I offer the argument that it might be more efficient for digital marketers to avoid overly complex and often trying/annoying…experience. Context and driving a buying journey across channels should be paramount.

My favorite part of shopping on Amazon is the one-click purchase. That feature plays to my limited attention span and the fact that, like many others, I have done my research about a product or service in a totally separate and unrelated part of this transaction. As such, digital marketers must truly broaden their thinking about buying journeys and commerce experiences. These activities are rarely linear; don’t follow any sort of funnel metaphor and result in individual, personalized purchase maps that defy broad categorization. The bottom line states that in their breathless pursuit of creating “commerce experiences,” digital marketers should never lose sight of their endgame: Always Be Selling.

To create powerful, compelling commerce experiences I urge digital marketers to adopt the full range of big data possibilities to ensure you deliver the right experience to the right consumer. I also encourage marketers to follow the lead of The New York Times who just hired a data scientist to turbo-charge its use of big data. Such moves will take you away from thinking less about one-size-fits-all experience peddlers and more of creating a value-added event like a personal tour guide: I want to get from Philadelphia to New York quickly—send me on the turnpike. My friend likes the scenic route; send him along Route 1 where he can enjoy leaf peeping and all the stop lights. I’ll wait for him when I arrive at my destination.

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