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How to Think About Your Tech Stack Strategically during COVID-19

A man strategically analyzing a wall full of paper during COVID-19.

This blog post was contributed by David Campbell, CEO of Tropic.  Tropic is a Buyer Enablement Platform designed to make researching and buying the right software quick and easy, and they are a partner of Zaius.  

We have seen an influx of marketing software decisions during Covid-19, and we’ve categorized those decisions to help other brands optimize their stacks. 

The data we’re discussing today was collected from Ecommerce businesses generating between $10M and $200M in digital revenue, specifically. For the avoidance of doubt, we are 100% unbiased in our analyses and do not produce sponsored content, ads, or anything similar for software providers. 

Today, we’re going to focus on what the most successful D2C brands are doing on our platform.

The Opportunity and the Risk for D2C Brands

Market conditions have opened a lane for nimble companies shipping direct-to-consumer to beat Amazon on shipping time, which is driving new customers to them they wouldn’t otherwise be activating. For some it’s a long-term opportunity. For others, these new audiences will evaporate when Amazon returns.

Here are three things D2C brands can do to ensure they retain their new customers after Covid-19:

Consolidate Your Tech Stack

You may be serving a fragmented customer experience, and frustration is higher than ever right now due to Covid-19. Platform consolidation can fix this. Here are the most frequent examples of consolidations we’ve seen during Covid-19: 

  1. Basic email tool used for batch and blast with separate marketing automation tool for triggered communicationsOur recommendation: consolidate to a single platform so the emails talk to each other. If your marketing automation tool can’t handle that, time for a new one.
  2. Brand use a standalone CDP and a separate marketing platform in use for less than 5 total data sources.  Our recommendation:  We have seen a spike in consolidation across Ecommerce brands with fewer than five data sources. Brands are bringing marketing communications and CDP capabilities into one platform, leading to a fully integrated cross-channel journey. Until you have more than five sources of data, you probably don’t need to have a standalone CDP alongside your marketing platform, so find an all-in-one platform to reduce cost and simplify your marketing.  
  3. You have point solutions for SMS, push notifications, email marketing, personalization, etc.  Our recommendation: If your email tool permits journey building, it might not “see” interactions in other channels (with a few exceptions). Consolidate. Missing the mark on these interactions and not having an omnichannel approach will cost you customers. 

Be There at High-Churn Moments

There are specific moments in the customer journey that have been infused with increased emotional intensity due to Covid-19. If a product is out of stock, shipping is delayed, or a shipment is lost, or if you’re not able to be contacted – you’re likely to lose the sale.

  1. Integrate back-end inventory data with your marketing platforms. Front-end scraping isn’t enough, or you could wind up selling a product you can’t fulfill.
  2. Make it ridiculously easy for customers to get in touch with you. Bring more visibility to live chat, phone numbers, and every other customer support channel you offer. Double down on your commitment here so your customers can access you at these high-intent moments.
  3. Leverage on-site personalization. It’s never been more important to show your audience the right products at the right times.  For example, we have clients who have leveraged personalization in order to hide products from customers who live in areas that they are not able to ship to.

We have seen an increase in CDP and chat vendor investments. For these brands, the CDP has become the connector between back-end data, marketing platforms, chat, and personalization tools.

Focus on the Future

Not every shopper wants to become a customer today, but it’s imperative to isolate every shopper who has shown intent that they may become a lifetime customer.  Double your efforts and focus on effectively segmenting and marketing to this audience. 

Here are strategies for capturing these high-intent audiences:

  1. Make it very easy to create a wishlist and then notify this user when items on their list are on sale. Some people won’t buy today, but they will buy later if you stay relevant and top-of-mind.
  2. Acquire list subscribers with back-in-stock notifications. Be 100% proactive about products that are not in stock, and use that moment to build your list. Then you can offer the user similar products that are in stock via email.
  3. Consider a buy now, pay later option. This can soften the blow for your customers and ensure long-term commitment to your brand.

We have seen a spike in the implementation of flexible payments options, as well as increased adoption of existing email platforms to include things like back-in-stock that may not have been active beforehand. 

On Tropic, we have observed an increased focus on unifying customer data, increased focus on consolidating tools to decrease cost, increased willingness to switch to a less expensive option in every case, and increased focus on retention

The brands we’ve seen successfully activate customer data platforms and new communication channels are spending less money with higher ROI, and we anticipate they will be the ones who retain their audiences when Amazon is up and running again post-Covid 19.

If you want to see how you can do this for your brand, and you want to bypass 50+ hours of vendor research and stack analysis, Tropic is offering a free martech audit

This article originally appeared in the Zaius blog and has been published here with permission.

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