The creation of a great meal combines top quality ingredients with the creativity of a master chef. Similarly, the best digital experiences are created when the best software is brought to life by imaginative creative agencies and technology partners. With this thought in mind, Episerver launched a Partner Innovation Spotlight program at our annual user conference, Episerver Ascend.
We gave early access to some of our newest and best software innovations and invited them to make something magical with it. We invited them to design and develop innovative proof of concepts that showed customer-focused organizations how consumers can engage and do business with them using capabilities like personalization, machine learning and experience management. The result? Two Episerver Premium Partners, Making Waves and Valtech were voted the overall winners after they showcased how Episerver can be used to connect online and offline experiences and empower marketers to understand their customers like never before.
Shoppers are willing to use new in-store and online shopping technology for the first time, according to recent Episerver research, but 51 percent of surveyed consumers will turn down a second chance if the technologies did not improve their experiences initially.
In other words, technology cannot be used for the sake of using it – and longtime Episerver partner Making Waves knew that from the onset when accepting the challenge of creating original use of Episerver's newest products as part of the 2018 Partner Innovation Spotlight.
Making Waves presented how its team made Episerver products their own – in this case Episerver Insight and Perform – impressing the crowd to the tune of co-winning the inaugural Partner Innovation Spotlight by a count of votes (tied).
[From left to right: Justin Anovick, VP of Worldwide Product at Episerver; Casper Rasmussen, Technical Architect & Episerver Practice Lead at Valtech; Joe Grause, Director of Business Development at Making Waves.]
To learn more about what was created, let's hear from one of the winners himself, Joe Grause, Director of Business Development, Making Waves.
Joe Grause, Making Waves: We were immediately excited about the opportunity to create something straight out of our imagination and that would potentially benefit our clients and the tech community. We also felt that it would be a great way to demonstrate our expertise as one of the most experienced Episerver partners and to highlight our innovative and strategic thinking beyond building Episerver solutions. Plus, we thought it would be a great way to generate extra awareness at the Ascend conference.
Grause: Our idea was to tackle one of the most stubborn challenges in the digital marketing era: to connect digital and physical/in-store actions and attribute them to one another. We built a sample shoe store where customers viewed and interacted with products online via mobile device, then offline within the booth. These experiences were personalized based on their actions, and at the same time we attributed those actions to a single customer profile—realizing a true business value of a unified vision of customer behavior across channels.
We utilized Episerver CMS, Commerce, Insight and Perform alongside Bluetooth beacons, an in-store display, and a mobile app to make the experience as real as possible and demonstrate that by combining Episerver, other available technologies and some creativity, it's possible to create a truly engaging customer experience and a powerful business solution.
[Grause presenting Making Wave's proof of concept.]
Grause: Many retailers and manufactures struggle to attribute digital customer interactions to those that occur in-store or within a retail environment. Traditionally, it has been difficult or even impossible to know what effect your digital solutions and tactics are having on customers in a retail environment, or vice-versa.
Furthermore, consumers have grown to expect relevant, personalized experiences, and are often frustrated when a retailer or brand cannot meet their needs or communicates in ways that are no longer relevant to their position in the customer journey. For example, say a customer researches products online before visiting a store, and ultimately ends up buying a different product than they first envisioned, how do we ensure we attribute their purchase to their online profile, and send them relevant follow-up communications?
We feel that our innovation solves both challenges.
Grause: Beyond Episerver CMS and Commerce, we made use of Episerver Insight and Perform.
We utilized Episerver Insight to capture physical and in-store customer interactions onto the customer profile. This means that not only do we know what products a customer viewed, liked or purchased online, but we now know whether that same customer visited a store, what products they interacted with, for how long, and whether they made an in-store purchase.
We also used Episerver Perform to offer personalized product recommendations to the customer both online and in-store based on their profile. The power of this comes from the fact that Perform is using not just online/digital interactions to influence recommendations, but also the in-store data that we have been able to capture about the customer.
From our view, the new Episerver Personalization suite provides a powerful toolkit for Episerver customers to be able to deliver more engaging, relevant customer experiences.
Grause: We feel that what sets our innovation apart is its depth of insights and practicality. We didn't use technology for technology’s sake. Instead, we built a solution that could be implemented in a real-life retail environment, either by a brand or a big box retailer. There are natural ways people interact with products—our solution builds insights on top of every interaction to ultimately provide customers with a better, more personalized experience that’s convenient for them, online or offline. This could apply to any number of industries where consumers experience products in multiple environments—products within fashion, electronics and home appliances come to mind. With increasing Bluetooth usage by consumers, we hope to see more retailers take advantage of this capability to gain new insights about how consumers perceive their products, and in turn provide better product experiences going forward.
Grause: This was a fantastic initiative and a great opportunity to join in all the great innovations that take place at Ascend. We’re really proud of the work we did and are looking forward to next year’s Partner Innovation Spotlight!
Stay tuned to learn about Valtech's co-winning innovation!