Inside the Minds of eCommerce Execs

White Paper

A personalised consumer experience is the new frontier for ecommerce retailers, and the US knows it. Whether it’s app-based commerce for easy mobile shopping or using technology like dynamic pricing and mobile pay, US retailers are enthusiastically reaching past the boundaries of what’s known into new realms of innovation.

We wanted to know what strategies US ecommerce retailers are considering, how they’re looking to innovate and how that compares with their peers overseas and in Canada.

Likely driven by the fact that consumers are using mobile now more than ever, respondents to our survey say they’re focused on improving the consumer experience through operational efficiency and new strategies and technologies, such as one-click purchasing options. They are also enthusiastic about forward-thinking initiatives, such as dynamic pricing, which will improve the mobile experience.

In this report, you’ll learn what US ecommerce retailers are thinking about, including:

  • Their priorities and where they plan to focus moving forward
  • How strategic digital initiatives like dynamic pricing pique their interest
  • Their take on the importance of mobile strategy
  • What issues, technologies and techniques they have their eye on.

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Digital Reigns Supreme

We asked, “In your opinion, which of these have the highest potential to improve sales or profit for your business?” For US respondents, website was their No.1 choice. And it makes sense: Website is one of the most common ways that consumers interact with ecommerce.

Highest Potential to Improve Sales or Profit

  • Website Experience - US (61%), All Others (59%)
  • Dynamic Pricing - US (51%), All Others (42%)
  • Social Personalisation - US (49%), All Others (45%)
  • Logistics - US (48%), All Others (41%)
  • Channel Attribution - US (47%), All Others (40%)
  • Search Personalisation - US (45%), All Others (35%)
  • Coordinated Strategy - US (45%), All Others (38%)
  • Shopping Personalisation - US (44%), All Others (39%)
  • Mobile Experience - US (44%), All Others (49%)
  • Cross-Border Selling - US (32%), All Others (37%)

Fifty-one percent of US respondents chose dynamic pricing, a relatively new concept pioneered by Amazon, as having the second highest potential to improve sales or profit behind improving the website experience.

Amazon’s impact makes this choice logical for US respondents, but it might be a bit of wishful thinking, at least for now. Dynamic pricing is both complicated and expensive to implement. And there’s a risk of alienating customers when they discover that the price offered to a new customer (or one not logged in to an account) is lower than the one they are charged for loyal patronage.

Given the enthusiasm, US respondents would be well-served to explore the comparatively easier tactic of dynamic couponing. Through understanding the consumer and their behaviors, retailers can provide coupons that offer the “best” chance of converting for the lowest amount offered.

Social Sells

Social platforms also have capabilities that drive consumers to websites, email sign-ups and conversions to sales. In all regions, respondents agreed social media is the marketing channel that has the greatest impact on sales.

Top Three Marketing Channels That Impact Sales

  • Social Media - US (65%), All Others (62%)
  • Email Marketing - US (52%), All Others (53%)
  • Paid Search - US (40%), All Others (35%)

According to Deloitte, consumers who use social media before or during their trip to help them shop are 29% more likely to make a purchase that same day. And consumers who engage with social media while they shop are four times more likely to spend more than those who don’t.

Based on these numbers, it makes sense that when asked what they would focus on if money and time weren’t an issue, 35% of respondents named selling on secondary and emerging social media. Since so many consumers spend at least some of their leisure time on social media, focusing on these channels may be a wise move. Retailers can benefit from building a strong social presence and encouraging consumer engagement with their brand through social discussions, public reviews and other social-based incentives.

Consumers who use social media before or during their trip to help them shop are 29% more likely to buy that same day and 4x more likely to spend more.

When spreading your message across a variety of channels, it’s important to manage the customer experience and ensure you’re reaching consumers with the right message at the right time. When it comes to this task, US respondents are very sure of themselves:

  • 67% said they’re always capable of delivering the right message vs. just 48% in other regions.
  • 52% said it’s always at the right time, compared to 43% of other respondents.
  • 50% said it’s always on the right channel, with 46% of respondents in the other regions reporting the same.

The Mobile Experience Means so Much

The average consumer uses their mobile phone over 150 times every day, and retailers know that each time is an opportunity for their brand to connect. A whopping 81% of US respondents said consumers frequently use mobile to search for products with their brand, and 70% said they use it frequently to research or compare prices and purchase products. Additionally, 95% of US respondents (and 92% of those from the other regions) said that mobile commerce is either critical or important to the future of their brand.

95% said that mobile is either critical or important to the future of their brand. But only 24% of US respondents named improving the mobile experience as their No. 1 priority in 2017. This may be due to their assessment of their own mobile sophistication: When asked about their brand’s mobile strategy, 49% responded that they have a dedicated mobile strategy and make dedicated investments in the mobile experience, while 51% treat desktop and mobile the same.

How does this decision affect their success? Despite less than half of US respondents committing to a dedicated mobile strategy, 92% reported that their mobile strategy is working. The disconnect here is clear: With the increasing amount of ecommerce happening via mobile, retailers must tailor the consumer experience for mobile or risk missing more sales opportunities. If consumers are browsing on mobile devices, it can only help to enable a seamless purchase process on those devices rather than forcing them to switch to a desktop or other method.

The Overconfidence Conflict

Of the five countries surveyed, US respondents were the most confident and driven group. These qualities aren’t unwarranted: 59% reported beating their sales objectives in 2016, compared with 52% in the other regions.

When we look at meeting business objectives, however, the rest of the world holds steady, even if they aren’t beating their goals: 38% of all other regions surveyed reported meeting their objectives, while only 24% of US businesses did. Even the most confident know there are always opportunities to do more.

For instance, many US retailers feel constrained by other data-related barriers, including the cost and complexity of hiring experts in data analysis or investing in more sophisticated analytics. Although 75% of US respondents said that they are very effective at leveraging data to make decisions, it may be difficult to get the most from their data, and therefore, create an optimised consumer experience without investing in ways to analyse it.

Technology Tops the Wish List

When US retailers consider ways to improve, they continue to look beyond the horizon. For ecommerce retailers, this means optimising the user experience. We asked, “When you think about innovation in ecommerce, where would you focus if money or time were not an issue?” Just under half (44%) chose new payment options, such as one-click choices that streamline the shopping experience.

With many respondents focused on enhancing the user experience in areas such as mobile and operational efficiency, this initiative is one that makes sense for driving sales, increasing profits and creating a seamless consumer experience.

eCommerce Innovation Wish List

  • New Payment Options - US (44%), All Others (45%)
  • Social Selling - US (35%), All Others (33%)
  • Subscription/Curation Services - US (33%), All Others (27%)
  • Content Marketing - US (33%), All Others (25%)
  • Dynamic Personalisation - US (26%), All Others (22%)
  • Video - US (24%), All Others (22%)
  • Beacons/RFID - US (20%), All Others (20%)
  • BI/Big Data Insights - US (18%), All Others (16%)

For in-store sales, US retailers continue to emphasise the digital experience. We asked, “Which of the following would have the greatest impact on in-store sales?” Nearly half (45%) would like to equip sales associates with tablets for real-time product information. Forty-four percent said in-store Wi-Fi for online shopping and price comparisons would have the greatest impact. Both scenarios point to the idea that dynamic pricing may soon become the standard for many retailers.

Moving in the Right Direction

Commerce marketers in the US are focused on the right initiatives for growth. They realise that consumers are interacting with brands in increasingly new ways and have come to expect personalised experiences. Web, mobile and social - their main areas of focus - are opportunities to use data to get the consumer’s attention, create exceptional experiences and ultimately convert those experiences into sales.


Working with research firm Demand ROI, we surveyed ecommerce managers, directors and vice presidents at companies in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands with a minimum headcount of 200 employees. The survey was conducted via email in the spring of 2017, and we received 409 qualified responses. The largest number came from the US, with a total of 144. Of these, 70% reported having both brick-and-mortar and online operations.

This content was originally published by Oracle + Bronto.

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