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3 Trends That Are Fueling Experience-Driven Commerce

Have you been wondering what that phrase “experience-driven commerce” that is appearing everywhere really means?

How about why your sales-based business should care about experiences?

And, how your business can implement experiential commerce without busting your sanity, your technology stack, and your budget?

The following article covers everything you need to know about experience-driven commerce, the significant developments in consumer habits and technology that are fueling this shift, and the one platform to implement in 2020 to deliver competitive and relevant experiences.

What is Experience-Driven Commerce?

Experience-driven commerce brings together data, insights, and content to provide consumers with a contextualized, personalized, and omnichannel experience during every brand interaction.

Its power lies in its ability to engage shoppers where they are—whether it’s in-store, on a smartwatch app, or driving past your smart billboard—and in the unique context of their lives, instead of asking them to change their habits to meet your capabilities.

And, most importantly, your customers crave it—and your competition is pursuing it.

Consumers who enjoy personalized experiences are 44 percent more likely to become repeat customers, and 40 percent tell their friends and family about it. Brands that are creating personalized experiences are finding they’re able to grow their revenue by 10 percent up to 3x faster than their non-personalizing peers.

It’s no surprise that the 2017 Digital Intelligence Briefing from Econsultancy and Adobe found that retailers are investing in experience-driven commerce.

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The 3 Major Shifts That Are Fueling Experience-Driven Commerce

Between constant connectivity, the rise of extremely tech-savvy consumers, and the major players that are making personalization a part of our everyday lives, it’s not surprising that experience-driven commerce is the future of successful sales-based businesses in 2020 and beyond.

Let’s explore each of those major trends in more detail, so you have all the insight you need to beef up your experience-driven commerce efforts.

Consistent Connectivity Puts Omnichannel Consumption on the Map for Good

The average smartphone owner reaches for their phone every six minutes.

There are nearly 7 billion mobile phones in use around the world right now—and some sources estimate that the average person will own and use at least 15 connected devices (think smart household devices, voice-activated speakers, wearables, and more) by the year 2030!

At any time, a consumer could use one of these devices to do research on a product or service that their friend just told them about, make a quick online purchase to pick up on their way home, or Tweet about an unfortunate customer service experience to thousands of followers.

They could be doing any of the above while shopping at one of your physical locations.

Over 80 percent of consumers reported using a digital device for shopping-related activities before or during their most recent shopping trip, according to the retail digital transformation experts at I.B.I.S., Inc.

Connectivity is ubiquitous, and consumers expect to be able to get what they want, when they want it, within the context of their unique expectations.

Welcome to what Forrester Research calls the Age of the Customer.

To stay competitive in this age, commerce companies must have a strategy for delivering unique experiences across established, new, and emerging IoT devices and platforms.

Millennials and Gen Z Consumers Have Huge Spending Power—And Demands

Millennials are currently the largest consumer group, but the even more tech-savvy Generation Z (aka the iPhone generation) isn’t far from taking that title.

The majority of your current or soon-to-be consumers grew up using social media, talking to smart appliances, and walking around with some of the smartest computers in the world in their pockets. They don’t know a world where digital conveniences didn’t exist, and if you think they’re going to work with a brand that doesn’t provide them—think again.

When the most powerful consumer group on the planet demands around-the-clock accessibility and personalization, you work to give it to them, or you fall by the wayside.

On this point, we have to agree with Boston Consulting Group’s sentiment: “This generation is ushering in the end of consumer marketing as companies have long known it.”

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Wide-Spread Personalization is the New Norm

Over 35 percent of Amazon sales are the result of recommendations created from shoppers’ personal data.

Netflix’s personalized video recommendations save the company $1 billion every year by retaining subscribers.

If some of the best-known businesses in the U.S. can improve the consumer experience using personalization, why can’t yours?

We know it’s not that simple, but your consumers don’t.

Commerce consumers want to give you their info, which the majority are fine with, and receive customized experiences in return. They’re willing to pay you in the form of personal data if it means they get a personalized experience out of the deal.

And, as we’ve explored before, personalization is powerful and profitable in many ways.

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(To learn how to make personalization work for you, check out our Guide to One-to-One Marketing for the Forward-Thinking Enterprise.)

So how can you gather and use all that data to provide personalization and deliver on all these other new consumer demands? That’s up next.

Delivering on Demands: How to Take advantage of Experience-Driven Commerce in 2020 and Beyond

To deliver experience-driven commerce, several departments of your business need to come together, including IT, marketing, sales, design, and beyond.

When these teams collaborate effectively, you’ll be able to develop and deliver always-relevant messaging, product information, and services whether you’re providing customer support on social media, serving a sales email campaign, or supplying important details to seal the deal on your commerce platform.

With a digital experience platform (DXP), you can unite these teams as well as the strategies, processes, and technologies you need to create, deliver, and optimize consistent commerce experiences.

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And DXP implementation all begins with a headless CMS that empowers hyper-personalized experiences through API-first architecture that integrates with CRM, AI, analytics, AR/VR, mobile apps, and any other tools that your IT, sales, marketing, design, and other teams need to do their jobs.

It’s time to meet consumer demands and build the tech stack that will deliver experience-driven commerce in 2020 and beyond because, as the famed writer Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

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CMS Debt Series: How the Wrong CMS Can Rack Up Insurmountable Technical Debt

In the first installment of our series on CMS debt, we talked about the high cost of replacing a poorly-chosen CMS.

In this segment, we’re going to explore the not-so-obvious technical debt that comes with continuing to try to make a poorly-chosen CMS work in your tech stack.

If your business is suffering from stunted growth, an inability to scale, squandered salary dollars and productivity hours, lost opportunities, failure to deliver on consumer expectations, and even a weak search engine presence—it could very well be the result of trying to force a square peg into a round hole when it comes to your CMS.

Here’s what you need to know about technical debt, how it can quietly ravage your company, and what you can do to nip it in the bud before it becomes downright impossible.

What is Technical Debt, and Where Does it Come From?

Technical debt is the sum of the money, flexibility, and opportunity lost when a company makes a poor technical investment or decision.

Businesses get into technical debt when time or budgetary constraints force CMOs and CTOs to choose the fastest or the most affordable solution instead of the best-fitting one with the most longevity. Often, this leads to the implementation of stand-alone pieces of technology that are simple enough to implement but that, over time, amount to a disjointed tech stack that only gets harder to secure, maintain, and update over time.

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One of the most notable differences between technical and financial debt is that many companies are not monitoring and governing technical debt as they are financial debt.

This lack of attention makes it all the more likely that a business will get in over its head with insurmountable technical debt before they realize what’s happening.

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While the monetary costs of technical debt aren’t typically tracked and are, therefore, hard to understand, it isn’t so hard to understand the damage it has on businesses when it comes to stunting growth, wasting productivity, and worse.

How Choosing the Wrong CMS Can Result in Technical Debt

Before we delve into the cost of choosing the wrong CMS, let’s quickly revisit what a CMS is and why it matters.

A content management system (CMS) is the platform most businesses use to create, distribute, and otherwise manage their content assets.

If you’re like many modern organizations, these content assets are the heart of the experience you create for consumers.

So, choosing a CMS that’s extremely expensive to maintain or incapable of being reconfigured to meet your growing business needs can understandably result in a large amount of technical debt, very quickly.

Stunted Business Growth and Scalability

It’s nearly impossible to predict what the future holds for your business but, hopefully, it’s growth.

That should be top of mind when you choose to implement any technology—and especially when you’re selecting your CMS.

Growth means more products or services, more content, more advertising channels, and more software and systems. To avoid getting into massive technical debt later, you’ll want to start from square one with a solid foundation for your tech stack—and the right CMS platform can be just that.

While a traditional, monolithic CMS will only be able to publish content to a website, a headless, API-first CMS decouples content from how it’s displayed and designed.

This decoupling allows IT, marketing, and design teams to work separately but in tandem to publish flawless content across channels at the speed of the consumer.

Plus, thanks to separating the content from the presentation layer, a headless CMS can serve as the base for an entire digital experience platform into which you can plug your ecommerce, marketing, data, personalization, and optimization tools to create a tech stack that scales up (or down) as needed.

Lost Salary Dollars, Productivity, and Opportunities

Do your systems keep getting harder to work with by the month? Are workers often spending more time wrangling resources, fixing bugs, or putting out fires than doing their actual jobs?

If so, you’re losing salary dollars and productivity that you can’t get back on developers and other personnel who are merely maintaining instead of moving your business forward.

And, if yours is one of the 90 percent of IT teams that report that the maintenance and expense associated with legacy systems prevent them from taking advantage of the technology their organizations need to grow—then you’re also missing out on significant business opportunities.

Putting a CMS at the center of your tech stack that’s expensive to maintain and too rigid to update is sure to rack up technical debt in the form of squandered productivity, salary dollars, and opportunities.

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Weak Search Engine Presence

Just over half of all website traffic on the entire internet starts with organic search. Plus, over 40 percent of revenue is thought to be the result of organic traffic.

Search engine optimization (SEO) matters, and it all starts with creating and managing awesome content.

You want to choose a CMS that is thoughtfully designed to boost your SEO efforts at every turn. If it isn’t, you may notice your search engine presence is weak thanks to:

Poor Meta Tags

The search engine crawlers that “read” and help rank your website on search engine results pages rely on meta tags to learn what message each page is conveying. A CMS that doesn’t let your marketing team use relevant page titles, unique descriptions, and high-quality meta tags will prevent crawlers from finding and assigning a high ranking to your website pages.

Generic URLs

You want to be able to implement the keywords and phrases for which you want to rank in your page URLs. If your CMS doesn’t let you create your own keyword-rich URLs, you can say goodbye to highly-visible search results.

Inferior Code Base

While your website design may be the best on the planet, readers aren’t ever going to see it if the underlying code is bad!

Search engine crawlers can’t “see” your design. Instead, they rely on reading the code. If your CMS isn’t using search-engine-optimized code that these crawlers can understand, they’re not going to be able to prioritize your website over those with better code.

Getting the most SEO juice out of your content isn’t just about the content itself but the CMS you choose to use to host it. Start with a well-built and user-friendly CMS to keep yourself out of technical debt.

Inability to Keep Up with Consumer Expectations

By 2030, each person on the planet is expected to interact with as many as 15 different internet-enabled devices on a daily basis.

That’s great news considering that omnichannel shoppers tend to spend more. MasterCard found that consumers who shop both online and off buy 250 percent more than consumers who don’t. Macy's reports their omnichannel shoppers are eight times more valuable than their single-channel ones.

But this is not-so-great news for businesses who aren’t enabled with the technology needed to keep up, these omnichannel shoppers expect personalization at every touchpoint.

Nearly 80 percent of consumers will only engage with personalized offers, and 78 percent say relevant content makes them more likely to buy.

Whereas plain-text brand blogs were the status quo just a decade ago, today, consumer expectations are changing just as quickly as the technology that enables them.

You probably know where this is going. Working with a traditional CMS that forces you to publish the same general type of content to the same website day after day? That’s technical debt in the making.

But thanks to decoupling content from the presentation layer, a headless CMS enables businesses to create content once and redesign, reoptimize, and republish it as necessary.

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Win “first-mover” advantage by being the fastest among your competitors to meet consumer expectations and secure your place as a market leader.

Prevent Racking Up Technical Debt by Choosing the Right CMS from the Start

There are tons of CMS options out there. What’s important is taking the time to choose the right one for your business.

To learn how to avoid racking up insurmountable technical debt by selecting the best-fit CMS from the very beginning, check out the do’s and don’ts in the first installment of this series on CMS debt: The High Cost of Choosing the Wrong CMS.

And to learn more about headless CMS itself and why it’s fast becoming the future of business and marketing, download our Ultimate Guide to CMS or see it in action for yourself—take Contentstack for a test drive today and see how seamlessly it can fit into your tech stack.

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Build Nested Data Structures with Embedded Modular Blocks

Contentstack now allows nesting of modular blocks. This means that developers can, while creating content types, add Modular Blocks within a Modular Block field. This provides content managers with the flexibility to create deeply nested data structures without the need to engage a developer for changes in the content type structure.

Modular Blocks Overview

Modular Blocks is a field that allows content managers to dynamically create and modify components of a page or app on the go.

While creating content types, a developer can add various blocks (a group of fields) within a Modular Block field. For example, ‘Banner’ block (Single-line Textbox and Image fields), ‘Product Details’ block (Title, RTE, and Image fields), or ‘Video’ block (File and Multi-line Textbox fields). Content managers can then, while creating entries, select the required block or multiple blocks from these options, move blocks up or down, and remove them as and when required.

This offers content managers the flexibility to create dynamic and rich pages, without needing developers’ help for changes in the content type structure. Read more about Modular Blocks.

What’s New: Nested Modular Blocks

Previously, nesting was not possible with the Modular Blocks field. This meant that having a Modular Block as a choice for a field in another Modular Block was not possible.

With the latest release, it’s now possible. This gives more depth to the flexibility of Modular Blocks, and more power to content managers.

Developers can add up to 5 Modular Blocks in a content type, and add up to 20 blocks within each Modular Block field, with the max limit of total fields being 100 for each content type. Only one level of nesting is allowed for the Modular Blocks field. This means that you cannot add a Modular Block field to a Modular Block that is already a part of a Modular Block field. Learn more about the limitations of Modular Blocks.

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Let’s look at an example to understand this well.

You want to offer flexibility to news authors by providing page structures that allow them to create either standard news articles or submit a set of photos. Further, when creating standard news articles, there should be flexibility in the usage of images, image description and body content as required.

To achieve this, you can create a content type by adding a Modular Blocks field, and add two blocks within it: “Standard News Article” and “Image Gallery”. Within the first block (i.e., Standard News Article), add another (nested) Modular Blocks field, and add a block each for the following fields: ‘File’, ‘Single Line Textbox’ and ‘Rich Text Editor’. For the “Image Gallery” Modular Blocks field, add a ‘File’ field and mark it as Multiple. Save this content type.

Now, while creating entries for this content type, news authors can choose between ‘Standard News Article’ format or the ‘Image Gallery’ format. Further, they can create varieties of Standard News Articles by adding any of the three given fields anywhere in the page multiple times.

Another example where Nested Modular Blocks could be used is a super menu navigation of a website where each of the submenus contain a different dropdown structure.

Additional Resources

Log in to your Contentstack account and try adding a Nested Modular Blocks field to your content type to check out its flexible use cases. For more information, refer to the links below:

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CMS Debt Series: 5 Signs Your CMS is Causing Astronomical Opportunity Cost

Welcome—or welcome back!—to Contentstack’s three-part series on CMS debt. In this series, we’re breaking down all the ways that doing business with the wrong CMS can have a detrimental impact on your success.

In this installment, we’re going to examine the opportunities that companies miss out on when they’re stuck with an outdated or rigid traditional CMS that limits their ability to take advantage of new opportunities and compete in a quickly-evolving market.

5 Signs Your CMS is Costing You Big Business Opportunities

Opportunity cost” is the phrase used to represent the benefits that are lost when a business chooses to integrate technology that doesn’t end up meeting their unique needs.

Because it isn’t a cost that’s immediately tied to money, opportunity cost isn’t accounted for in financial reports. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t very real and that plenty of businesses are struggling under its strain.

As the heart of the customer experience, content is one of your most important business assets. And as the “hub” that ties all of these assets together, your content management system (CMS) plays a vital role in determining which opportunities you will and won’t be able to pursue.

Keep reading to learn about the signs you should look out for to determine whether your CMS is empowering or limiting your business success—and what to do if it’s the latter.

It’s Near Impossible to Keep Up to Date

Like plenty of other software platforms, traditional, monolithic CMSes (yes, there are several types of CMS—which we’ll get to soon!) are often purpose-built and can be cumbersome to change.

This is unfortunate because the businesses that use them must change.

Whether you need to make a branding update, add new pages, expand a product line, or implement a full facelift courtesy of a merger—the CMS upon which your website is built should be agile enough to make these changes easily.

If difficulty making these and other relatively simple changes is holding you back from taking advantage of partnerships and cutting-edge campaigns, it’s time for a CMS upgrade.

IT Has to Get Involved in Every Little Thing

Modern CMS tools empower marketers to manage their content without technical intervention.

Not-so-modern CMS tools force marketers to rely on IT any time they need to make any little content update.

The result is costly downtime, (understandable) frustration for both parties, and the inability to move with agility even when an exciting new opportunity arises.

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Your Security Alarms are Constantly Going Off

If your IT team is spending more time maintaining than innovating, your business has already suffered from a cyberattack, or your CMS vendor is no longer supporting the software you’re using—updating your CMS needs to become your top priority before your system goes down or gets taken down.

There’s nothing like going offline unexpectedly to force you to miss out on new opportunities and get dropped from existing ones!

You’re Using Multiple Tools to Manage Your Content

Are your essential content assets scattered among several platforms?

How many tools are you using to get your content created, optimized, designed, and distributed to all the right channels?

How many tools do you wish you were using instead?

Your CMS platform should serve as a single source of truth from which to manage all your content assets from creation through distribution and effectively wield them to take advantage of new business opportunities.

There’s No Functionality for Personalization or Distributing Across Channels

Speaking of effectively using content assets—are you able to deliver relevant content that speaks to various audiences on each of their preferred channels?

If you didn’t even know that was possible, chances are you’re using a monolithic CMS that isn’t equipped to help you meet modern consumer demands.

By 2030—which is alarmingly soon in business years—each person is expected to use as many as 15 different internet-enabled devices every day. And, these omniplatform and omnichannel consumers expect to experience relevant content everywhere.

Even today, nearly 80 percent of consumers only engage with brands that provide personalized offers. On the upside, 78 percent of shoppers do say relevant content makes them more likely to complete a purchase!

If you continue to work with a CMS that doesn’t empower you to create and distribute relevant content everywhere your audience is, the cost of missed opportunities is going to become astronomical in the coming years.

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So, did any of those signs seem familiar to you? If so, and if you don’t make an effort to move on to a better CMS soon, your outdated tech is going to “help” you rack up astronomical costs in missed opportunities.

The Opportunity Cost of Sticking With the Wrong CMS

While the cost of lost opportunities might not be as obvious or easy to track as traditional financial expenditures, there’s no doubt that it can harm your business.

These are some of the opportunities that your legacy CMS could be causing you to miss out on:

  • The opportunity to create, optimize, and distribute omnichannel experiences that speak to a whole new generation of consumers
  • The opportunity to deliver the personalization that consumers crave
  • The opportunity to develop a productive workplace culture that attracts and retains top talent
  • The opportunity to beat your competitors to market, win a significant share, and establish yourself as a leader in your industry
  • The opportunity to save a ton on salary dollars and prevent fines when it comes to CMS security and maintenance
  • The opportunity to develop a reputation as a “first-mover” by deploying your apps and content on emerging platforms

What are “pacesetters” doing to take back these opportunities? They’re ditching their monolithic content management platforms for headless CMS.

Adopt Headless CMS to Save on Opportunity Costs

While replacing your CMS certainly comes with its costs—so do missed opportunities.

With the former, if you do it right, you pay for it once, and it’s over. With the latter, you keep losing money on those missed opportunities every single day you choose to ignore your aging technology.

If you’re ready to save some money on maintenance and make money from new audiences and opportunities, here’s what you need to know.

Traditional, monolithic CMSes (think WordPress and Squarespace) were the original content management and delivery tools. They use an all-in-one, or “coupled,” system with a singular codebase that pulls in everything needed to manage and publish content to a website.

But when digital experiences developed beyond websites to multiple channels and devices, new technology was created to keep up: the headless CMS.

A headless CMS “decouples” all the technology that goes into managing content. Instead, all the tools it takes to create, store, optimize, and distribute content are held together using application programming interfaces (APIs). This modular architecture allows for the content to be created once then re-optimized and re-distributed in the way that’s most relevant to the channel and audience.

(For a more comprehensive look at the different types of CMS, download a free copy of the Ultimate Guide to CMS Vol. 2: Content Management Systems Pros and Cons here.) 

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Contentstack’s headless CMS is uniquely positioned to help your company overcome all five signs of missed business opportunities: It’s user-friendly enough for anyone to keep up-to-date, we strive to ensure that marketing folks can perform all their important content tasks free from IT intervention, our security authentications are enterprise-grade, our stream-lined features empower you to keep all your content assets safe on one platform, and our Experience Extensions enable you to take advantage of best-in-class integrations including CRM platforms, localization services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, personalization engines, and more.

Avoid the astronomical opportunity cost of working with the wrong CMS altogether with our tips on selecting the right CMS—or jump right in and see the right CMS at work when you take Contentstack for a test drive today.

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Create Reusable Fields Using Global Fields

Last week, we released a feature that gives more power to developers by eliminating manual, recurring work. Introducing: Global fields.

What Is a Global Field, You Ask?

A ‘Global field’ is a standalone, reusable field (or group of fields) that you define once and reuse in any content type within your stack.

An apt use-case is ‘SEO’. You can create a Global field called ‘SEO’ by adding ‘Meta Title’ (Single-line Textbox) and ‘Meta Description’ (Multi-line Textbox) subfields within it. Now, simply add this SEO Global field in any content type, and the subfields will be added automatically. The content within those subfields can be changed per instance, i.e. each blog can have a unique meta description. This eliminates the need to create the same collection of fields repeatedly for different content types.

Another important benefit is that Global fields can be managed from a central location. If the developer changes the structure or settings of a Global field, the changes are reflected across all content types where this field is being used.

How Global Fields Benefit Developers

Let us look at a few situations where using Global fields is particularly helpful.

Reduce manual work: Instead of adding and configuring the same field in multiple content types, define a Global field and use this field in multiple content types. This cuts down developers’ time and effort considerably.

Auto-update changes: Global fields can be managed from a separate, dedicated section. If a Global field is updated, the changes are reflected automatically in all the content types. This further reduces manual work for developers and gives better control over the fields.

When to Use a Global Field

Here’s a rule of thumb:

While creating a content type, if a field (or a group of fields) takes time to build, and you are likely to create the same field for different content types, it’s best to create a Global field instead, and then reuse this field in the required content types.

Global field use cases include:

  • SEO group field
  • Address group field
  • Taxonomy group field
  • Any other field used repeatedly in multiple content types

Does Global Field Help Content Managers?

Not directly, as it is a feature for developers. However, since it helps accelerate creating and updating content types, it cuts down the wait time for content managers in case of change requests. Visually, a Global field looks like any other field (or a group of fields) to content managers.

How to Create and Use a Global Field

Perform the following steps to start creating your Global field:

  1. Log in to your Contentstack account, and go to stack.
  2. Navigate to Settings > Content.
  3. Click on the Global Fields tab and then the + New Global Field button. You will be led to the Create New Global Field form.
  4. Provide a Name and Description for your Global field, and click on Create and Add fields. You can now drag and drop fields into your Global field, just like you do for content types.
  5. Create a new content type, and add a Global field to it. Under Edit Properties on the right-hand side, select the Global field that you want to use.

Read more about Global fields.

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