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Marketing eCommerce judge Christine Guerru on brand’s purpose and culture in CX

With over a decade of expertise in eCommerce and omnichannel strategy, Christine Guerru (pictured) led digital commerce strategy across North America, the Middle East and Australia. Currently as head of eCommerce at pharmaceutical company Sanofi Consumer Healthcare Australia, she specialises in leveraging business intelligence, customer insights and new technologies to deliver business solutions.

In her career spanning 14 years, Guerru has contributed to the digital evolution of dynamic industries such as fashion, beauty, grocery, and consumer health. She was previously the head of eCommerce at Sephora and was based in Dubai. Prior to that, she was with Canadian grocer Metro, managing the overall strategic direction and business model for eCommerce initiatives.

As a judge for Marketing’s Asia eCommerce Awards, Guerru is on the lookout for brands that showcase purpose and culture. According to Guerru, these can be experienced by shoppers, leaving them feeling empowered. Here is more from her interview:

Marketing: What is your perspective of the eCommerce industry?

Guerru: I believe we are just scratching the surface on the possibilities, and both retailers and brands need to accelerate to keep up with consumer expectations. ECommerce is still often seen in a silo, even though it can be a strong, growing contributor to the total business. The technology and data are both available; AI is already being used by many. The challenge many companies face is harnessing both of these to create a profitable, consumer-centric experience, while rallying the entire organisation around this exciting channel.

Marketing: How have you witnessed the eCommerce industry evolve over the past few years?

Guerru: I’ve seen encouraging steps towards building exceptional experiences around consumers and how they want to research, browse and shop, whether it’s voice search, social media integration, automation or simply using AI to make better recommendations. Instead of adopting the latest tech or gadget, we’re seeing more consideration around what works best for the shopper, and how to properly personalise. I also see more purpose-led digital experiences combined with extra awareness around pricing as retailers and brands fight for the consumer’s attention.

What unfortunately has not evolved as fast is the need to grow teams, especially when it comes to analysing data and consumer behaviours to better tailor the experience.

Marketing: What comes to mind when you think of eCommerce excellence?

Guerru: It’s often as simple as building on the basics once you truly understand your consumer and are leverage data to create personalisation while also allowing for discovery: crafted range of products, strategic pricing, super rich content, UX and UI tailored to consumer behaviour and focused on making it easy for them to use the site or app, integration of the company’s purpose and culture, just to name a few.

And just as important: exceptional fulfilment: fast delivery, convenient payment options, sustainable packing choices, excellent customer service care. ECommerce leaders are also very clear on the objectives, and how eCommerce is an integral part of the business because it contributes to much more than online sales.

Marketing: What qualities will you be looking out for in the entries for Marketing’s eCommerce awards?

Guerru: Companies that create meaningful experiences for consumers: rich content that is well curated and optimised, personalisation. It should ideally have contextual, intuitive and frictionless navigation from the moment they enter the site until after they’ve purchased or browsed, well organised sections making it easy for consumers to find what they need or interact with the brand, accessible customer care options, integrated journey tailored around the consumer needs and context (where is the consumer in their journey and how does the site reflect this).

Entries that also showcase the brand’s purpose and culture always stand out, ie can we experience the culture through the online experience? Can we recognise the brand’s tone of voice? Do we understand what this brand stands for and can shoppers feel empowered with their purchase? Is there a sense of community around the brand allowing people to feel connected?

Marketing: Why do you think recognising eCommerce players is important to the industry?

Guerru: It helps move the industry forward faster by showcasing best-in-class examples that companies can adapt for themselves. Highlighting great examples from various industries can inspire others to adapt these strategic and well-executed experiences for their own business. For examples, seeing how certain companies use data and context to better personalise is something most industries can benefit from. Or analysing best examples of UX and UI for mobile is also relevant for many.

Marketing: Where do you think eCommerce will be in five years?

Guerru: Considering how digital is so strongly connected and influential to total business performance, the term eCommerce will probably have become irrelevant and it will simply be commerce. The lines between online and offline are blurring as the shopper becomes channel agnostic and businesses undergo a true digital transformation, replacing silos with connected teams. All channels will be seen as a route to market and digital knowledge will be part of basic skills across the business.

Consumers are already in control and have shaped the expectations towards brands and retailers. But it’s just the beginning. They will continue to push the industry to keep up with them and deliver more connected experiences with seamless data capture, machine learning which delivers contextually relevant insights and facilitates automation.

Beyond knowing who consumers are and targeting them with the right message, context and life-cycle will be fully integrated, both in-store and online to remove any friction, whether it’s with product selection, product customisation, pricing, content, purchasing options, delivery and post-purchase experience.

[Asia eCommerce Awards welcomes you to submit your entries by 23 August. Designed to recognise excellence in eCommerce across Asia, there are 30 enterable categories offered to showcase the best industry players from brands and eRetailers to agencies and enablers. Register now!]