There’s much to be said for originality when it comes to commerce, and yet what customer-centric brands often struggle with is striking the balance between trusted best practices, and building on top of this default setting to stand out.

At Emark, we use the 80/20 rule. 80% best practice, 20% brand special sauce.

I’m going to outline a few examples of how commerce retailers can make the most of their CX investment by using well-supported, tried-and-tested commodities within Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud. This means that teams can spend more time and energy on that magic fifth that really matters – tweaking out-of-the-box templates to fit your brand, differentiate from competitors, and convert casual browsers into loyal customers.

1. Map out the customer need for custom vs. cookie-cutter

Every online retailer has a homepage, a category page, a product listing page, wishlist and order history. These are all commodities. What will make your webshop unique? Your first port-of-call is to talk to the customer, validate their needs and work out which steps in their buyer journey need to be custom, as opposed to cookie-cutter.

Take a surf clothing brand for instance. You have an optional mix-and-match campaign for two-piece swimwear, which can be sold separately or in a set. The customer goal of buying a bikini bottom is usually to find a top, and so the goal of your product detail page is to showcase cross-sell options in a way which shines the best light on your surfwear, offers the right customer recommendations, and makes their next-best-action as easy as possible.

This is a simple but extremely effective example whereby making a slight divergence from the standard Commerce Cloud template will set your experience apart, reducing steps from first-click to sales conversion.

Then, it means you can replicate much of the rest to stop you getting left behind in the race to add value.

2. Make personalisation your 20% by using data-driven design

How can you combine activities across Commerce Cloud and your Data Management Platform (DMP) to make your customer data work harder, and make the most of your customised templates?

Dynamically personalising elements from your website doesn’t have to be so difficult, and can have an unprecedented impact on sales growth by putting the customer’s needs first. So start by prioritising your highest impact pages and augmenting their content based on key audience attributes. You can build on this basic segmentation by starting with demography, loyalty or seasonality, evolving all the way through to affinity modelling.

And when you can combine your customer’s previous purchases with their telling browsing behaviour to surface the right product on the right page, the sky is the limit when it comes to designing flows which stand out.

Let’s go back to our surf brand: buying a bikini may be more interesting for female website visitors than for males, unless their search history says otherwise. You can save your swimwear-seeker several steps in their journey by serving them the product category they’re looking for, as they land on your homepage.

And for a general sportswear seller, high-value visitors who have a partnering gym membership might expect to see different offers to first-time visitors, so recognise them and serve them the experience they’re here for. They might prefer rowing to running, so your homepage carousel and subsequent recommendations can reflect this.

3. Use commerce data to drive customer service (via trying new channels like voice search)

There are so many opportunities to showcase personalised components in Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and sometimes all we need is to find shortcuts where the groundwork has already been done, so we can focus on the really special use cases.

So why not use a more mature channel, like email, as a basis to easily experiment with emerging customer technologies like voice search. This way you can cater to your existing subscriber base by using gender or average spend to supplement shopping experiences, and at the same time offer a new level of frictionless buyer journey by introducing hands-free service.

This can work particularly well as a customer service supplement, for more high-investment or one-off purchases; like a tailored suit as opposed to a pair of socks. Greater product complexity usually requires highly customised service, so step in with a more human conversation in the right instances to take your experience to the next level: are they buying shoes for a stroll on the beach, for work or for a wedding? What are their colour preferences and what kind of style or are they looking for?

This kind of approach gets more value from your mature customer data e.g. email-based transactions from Commerce Cloud, by using this as a basis for a one-to-one conversation and driving opportunity via an underserved channel.

4. Using predictive intelligence to automate repeat purchases

Lastly, you can go the extra mile to impress your customers through your data-driven webshop, by predicting their next-best-action based on their repeat purchases. What can you do to make life easier for your customer through hyper-intuitive design, and which tasks can you automate for your team? Think grocery lists and weekly supermarket orders, populating wishlists with ‘you-may-also-like’ recommendations which fit their wants and needs perfectly.

Through the Salesforce Einstein module, you can include or exclude specific product categories or groups, creating right-sized page templates for your most loyal customers which move with and anticipate their preferences.

It’s time to give more thought to what you’re spending on customer experience design – and why. Are you building your webshop from scratch when you could be using industry best practices to pick up speed?

Are you spreading your resources too thin, when you should be focusing on the 20% which makes your brand truly different, by customising the parts your customers truly care about?

The technologies and interfaces already exist to make your shop window work in a million different ways for your customer and your business. It’s up to commerce leaders like you to be critical about what comes out-of-the-box, and what deserves the work of your creative brain cells.