Wholesale Changes

Jay Baer on the Future of E-Commerce

By automating business writing, our Wordsmith platform is changing the way people do their jobs. But Wordsmith isn’t the only technology changing the way work gets done. For a broader perspective, we’re interviewing big thinkers on the future of work.

If you’re a digital marketer, odds are good that you already know Jay Baer. Just look at his Twitter bio:

The most re-tweeted person in the world among digital marketers. Author, speaker, podcaster, investor. President of @Convince. http://jaybaer.com

@Convince is Convince & Convert, a digital marketing firm for a lot of brands you know including Best Buy, Petco, and Walmart. For this interview, we turned Jay’s marketing brain toward e-commerce.

I know you have an expansive view of marketing. I’m interested in knowing what e-commerce looks like from that perspective. What are some broader trends that people grinding it out day-to-day in the e-commerce trenches really need to be aware of?

Clearly, mobile. But even more than that, we are going to see wholesale changes in how products are considered and purchased. Be thinking about VR for product demos and showcases. On the purchase side, I’m very bullish on apps (WeChat, FB Messenger) and chatbots being deployed as personal purchasing agents. It’s not going to be “customer goes to website and looks around” much longer.

You’ve written before on social media as an e-commerce tactic. More broadly, what do you think about content as an e-commerce tactic? What types of content actually work for e-commerce? Should e-commerce sites be thinking of their product descriptions as content? I imagine that for a lot of e-commerce companies, content isn’t at the top of their marketing priority list.

The trick with content for e-commerce is that it’s not one thing. You have to create content that answers key customer questions at each stage of the consideration funnel, and you have to answer those questions with multiple types of content. Also, I’m a big believer in decentralized content. Everything good can’t exist only on your own site, because you’re preaching only to the choir in that circumstance.

Can you give a few an example of a company that really understands this?

Lowe’s is terrific at this. Their Fix in Six series of helpful household hints exists on Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, YouTube, and Facebook. But not on their own website.

What e-commerce tactic or trend will be obsolete in five years?

Collecting credit card information on a website.

As you survey the e-commerce landscape, what separates the ones who are able to adapt new technologies and techniques from the ones you get left behind?

A relentless commitment to making it easier and easier and easier for the customer to learn, consider, transact, and get service after the sale. Remember, you’re competing against true one-click players from a customer experience standpoint. How can you make your e-commerce experience as close as possible to Uber?

Companies like Uber want to move from human drivers to self-driving cars. In e-commerce, technology is also automating traditionally manual tasks. Our Wordsmith platform, for instance, automates the writing process for numerous types of content, including e-commerce product descriptions. Given that reality, how should professionals think about adding value and staying ahead of the curve?

Huge trend. I’m an investor in Captora, which does similar things for landing pages, SEO, SEM. The key is to have professionals thinking about how to optimize and push beyond internal boundaries, while employing technology to scale and do the grunt work.

What’s good advice for someone starting out in e-commerce?

Spend as much time as possible talking to customers or at least talking to people who are talking to customers. You’ll learn more from your customer service team than from anyone else in your organization. Especially because we have so much data now in e-commerce that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of treating customers like numbers. They aren’t.

Finally, your own website says you are “The World’s Most Inspirational Marketing and Online Customer Service Speaker.” That’s some damn good personal branding. How should employees think about marketing themselves in such a fast-changing work environment?

Figure out the one thing you’re disproportionately good at (and make sure it’s something you LOVE). Then make sure everything you do supports that thesis.

This story originally appeared on AutomatedInsights.com.