This guest post is written by Nate Barad, product marketing director at Microsoft Partner Sitecore.

Technology improves customer relationships — right?

Today, with the majority of consumers rating online purchasing as their “overall favorite,” “easiest” and “most, convenient” method of shopping, companies are still looking to build the perfect customer relationship. They depend on sophisti­cated commerce platforms to maintain fluid customer con­versations that cross interaction points including websites, mobile and social platforms, and technologies that bridge online and in-store, such as Quick Response (QR) codes.

While commerce applica­tions create profitable experiences when the customer is on the website, they typically require more to keep the conversation going beyond the point of conversion: more systems, more coordination with other departments, more hassle for marketers. That typically makes for brief, and far from perfect, customer relationships.

Sitecore keeps the conversation flowing

Sitecore plays an integral role in a large and growing number of ecommerce environments. The Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) allows companies to easily marry the most sophisticated capabilities of popular commerce platforms with a content management engine that intuitively determines what information a customer needs, when, and delivers it through the appropriate channel.

Sitecore CEP enables companies to drive the fluid conversations that drive conversions into first and repeat purchases, fostering the life-long loyalty that is the true hallmark of the perfect customer relationship.

QR Codes and the In-Store Connection
Companies that sell products online and in stores can use Sitecore to engage customers in conversations that flow across on- and offline channels. For example, a footwear company can use Sitecore to create a personalized, multichannel interaction that looks like this:

  • A prospect sees a bus station poster promoting a new running shoe and wants to find out more. She uses her smartphone to scan the QR code on the poster.
  • The Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform generates a follow-up email containing a link to the shoe’s microsite. On her smartphone, the prospect opens the email, goes to the mobile version of the microsite and activates a 10% off coupon.
  • The microsite generates the discount coupon, using her phone’s geo-location information to direct her to the nearest retailer carrying the shoe. She can have the coupon scanned at the point of sale, or enter the discount code if she decides buy the shoes later, on the manufacturers’ main or mobile commerce site.
  • The promotion also gives the prospect the option to post her interest in the running shoes as a status update on Facebook, so she can tell her friends.

The coupon brings along all of her engagement with the brand to the website.  We know which bus station she traveled in, how she shopped for the shoes, her size.   That first handshake with the salesman is incredibly more relevant and future interactions will build to a more personalized experience.

Retail’s BIG Show   
Next week in New York City the retail community gathers to network, trade ideas and announce demonstrate new solutions at the NRF Annual Convention & EXPO also known as Retail’s BIG Show. Sitecore will be in Microsoft’s booth #1005, along with Avanade demonstrating all of these solutions I just discussed. Our goal is to help marketers deliver personal, seamless and differentiated customer experiences.  In addition, we will present how Microsoft Windows 8 plays an active role in starting and continuing the customer conversation and providing a deeper understanding of the customer journey. Windows 8 provides marketers a canvas for Sitecore’s software and its native mobile data connection to interact with customers with relevant and immediate content and context.

Stop by the booth or contact me at nba@sitecore.net