With people becoming dependent on devices, it is essential that we ensure they are optimally protected from damage. Otterbox is a top brand in the technology phone case and accessories industry. They design a variety of products which can allow our phones to be used in high intensity situations, enabling them to be moisture resistant and making them more durable in the situation of an accident. We interviewed Pat Waller, Director of eCommerce at Otter Products to hear his opinions on the innovative world of online retail.
Firstly, we wanted to know more about Waller and what inspired him to get involved in ecommerce. Growing up in Ottawa, Waller knew he had a passion for travelling. Therefore, he pursued a degree in hospitality at the University of Guelph. Later on, he became the manager of a bar where he was responsible for growing revenue and profit. Here, he practiced what he learnt in school whilst applying it to a business. Additionally, around this time Facebook was starting to become popular. He took to Facebook to market the bar and it was extremely successful. From there, he decided to merge his love for travel with his newfound interest in marketing as he moved to Europe to work for UPS and has since spent the past 10 years in corporate marketing roles in Europe, Asia and North America, accelerating company growth by investing in awareness.
Omnichannel is a word that is extremely prevalent in the retail world right now. Waller takes a different approach when describing the meaning of the word. Traditionally, omnichannel is seen as multiple different channels that bring the customer to purchase a product. Although for Waller, the consumer is the channel itself and everything that the company does is focused on the consumer journey to become smoother and more convenient. Waller notes that the omnichannel discourse is all about the ways in which the consumer can be served best.
In terms of in-store customer experience, Waller believes an exceptional customer experience online can be carried through by paying attention to each customer’s touch points. Waller notes, “if you have a weak link anywhere, it can have an overall ripple effect on the consumer and on the overall value proposition.” Each channel has specific unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, the in-store experience is a critical point where your product is directly in front of the client and you are able to answer customer questions live in person. Waller also explains that the beauty of the online experience is that it is also live and every consumer action on your website or digital marketing indicates the customer answering a question on what they are looking for. It removes the social awkwardness and interactions of the in-store experience and replaces it with endless opportunities available to the customer 24/7. With having an online platform, it is essential to remember that you must make it as easily navigable as possible. In this way, customers can make more convenient decisions that could in the end lead to purchases.
With his expertise in the field, we also wanted to know Waller’s top 3 priorities in terms of ecommerce initiatives retail brands should be taking. His responses are as follows:
Make the buying process simple. Do not overwhelm your customers. You are working to serve them, not bombard them.
Invest in the best tools for your website. An ecommerce platform is a product in itself, therefore, you must consider what tools would serve your consumer best and go from there.
Keep up with the needs of your consumers and make sure you are exceeding them. It is their expectations that you are trying to meet.
As Waller has been involved in the industry for a long time, he has been able to witness some major changes in consumer behaviour over the past few years. The biggest changes that he has seen is the merging of historical departments within a company. eCommerce has been a department that partners equally with sales, marketing, technology and customer service. For example, ecommerce has grown to be a major sales component of big brands and continues to expand industries with more direct to consumer strategies. Marketing can see ecommerce platforms as communication centers for the customers. Part of what has made ecommerce so successful is that it allows us to receive feedback easily through consumer insights on marketing content, product, pricing, and service levels. Service levels gives you insights on, you are serving your consumer as customer support, post purchase support, warranty and nurture campaigns. Last but not least, is investing in technology can be a game changer for all of the above on how you offer payment methods for sales, consumers experience your brand, and how you serve your consumer base.
Lastly, Waller discussed what he thinks the next 5 years will look like for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce. Interestingly, he identified that both the online and in-store experience will merge over time. With this, it will be vital that companies keep and eye on consumer behaviours in order to adapt accordingly.