A Vision for the Future of Commerce: Understanding the Customer Journey in the Age of AI
By Carl Bleich
Understanding the customer journey seems like it should be so simple.
Yet, as almost every marketer has come to learn, it is anything but straightforward.
A customer’s journey with your company includes all of the experiences had when interacting with your brand. Rather than looking at just one transaction or one experience, the customer journey looks at the complete picture of what it's like for consumers to interact with your company.
Publications across the globe have written about the best ways of mapping the customer journey, all with different takes on important stops along the way.
Despite so many attempts at quantifying them, nobody really knows the intricacies of the customer journey. Moving customers from the awareness stage to the conversion stage and all of the stops in between is far from an exact science. All of the variables that must be accounted for make mapping the customer journey an exhausting process.
Perhaps it’s time to consider that mapping the customer journey is no longer the best way to understand your customers. Bloomreach CEO and co-founder Raj De Datta believes the future is brightest for brands that can adapt to a new way of thinking about the concept.
In reality, the customer journey may never have been what we thought it was to begin with.
“In many ways, it is a really artificial construct,” De Datta said. “We have been told over many years that customers behave in a very linear fashion...When in fact, when we all think about our own shopping experiences, it’s anything but linear.”
Artificial Intelligence makes connecting with customers a breeze
But it certainly isn’t breaking news that consumers can be more complicated than brands wish they were.
Human beings are complex. Human communication is messy. Companies never truly know how a message might be received.
Where brands set themselves apart from the competition is not only understanding the complexities of their customers, but knowing what to do about them.
Enter artificial intelligence.
“With the emergence of data science as a category and data present everywhere, the machines can play a much more significant role in distilling where customers are and what they might be seeking,” De Datta said. “That’s something that would not have been possible without technology taking giant leaps forward.”
The Pairing of Customer and Product Data Paves The Way to Conversions
AI can put your brand in a position where it can communicate with customers in real-time with messages that resonate personally. And these days, the pairing of customer data and product data is the best way to make that happen.
If your company’s goal is to put the right product in front of the right person to fill that seeker’s need, you need the perfect combination of product data and customer data to facilitate that.
“We need deep data about customers,” De Datta said. “But if we just understand the customers and don’t know what product to put in front of them, it kind of doesn’t matter. Equally, we need a deep understanding of products. But if we don’t know how to match that against the customer preference, it also doesn’t matter.”
“We’re ultimately faced with the conundrum that we must have deep understanding of both. And as importantly, we must know what to do with that deep understanding.”
This conundrum is solved when companies concentrate on building their brand in a way that focuses on deeply understanding the motivation of their customers. In 2021, businesses have to realize that customers aren’t just buying a piece of plywood, they are taking the necessary steps to finish their back porch deck that will host family gatherings for the next 10 years.
Bloomreach understands this and helps companies use AI to communicate with customers in a meaningful, personalized way. Bloomreach solutions combine the power of unified customer and product data with the speed and scale of AI and predictive decisioning.
If you’re ready to see what the combination of ample amounts of product and customer data can do for your company, schedule a personalized demo with Bloomreach today.
If you’re looking for more from De Datta on what the future of commerce looks like, watch his video interview with Business Reporter. The interview touches on the aforementioned topics and gives actionable insights on how to drive business growth in our new digital-first world.