Reformative Change Makes CX, Commerce, and Creativity Essential

One of the undeniably major stories of 2020 is the explosive growth of eCommerce. As we discuss in our newly published Capitalise on Commerce report, COVID-19 has accelerated the progress of ecommerce adoption by 4-6 years within a matter of months. Customer journeys everywhere have gone from digital first to digital essential. Alongside the growth is something else: tremendous turmoil. This tumult creates an unprecedented challenge for creative professionals to respond with empathy.


As a leader of Isobar’s Creative Experience teams, I spend a lot of time thinking about this subject. As a group, we’ve always tried to find the moments that create and add value to our client’s customers lives, and in 2020, creating and adding value happens in a new context.


Society and our current environment presents us with undeniable cues and pointing in the direction we need to lead. From massive disruption in supply chains, to evolving social norms and behaviors, to people in the streets demanding justice, and creating consciousness out of thin air through the power of their voices. 


This moment demands not just perseverance, but an unflinching dedication to providing creative solutions that rise to it. We have an opportunity to reform the way we think about brands, businesses, people, and the products and services we put out into the world.


I used to believe that the brands people chose to identify with gave us part of our identity. Now I believe that, we associate our identity with the brands that are doing the things we see as worthwhile for either ourselves or our communities at large. And brands that are finding every opportunity to do so, will win.


For us, this is in complete alignment with our philosophy and work. Because it’s not about whether we need to invest in digital experiences such as commerce platforms, it’s about how to differentiate those with creative experiences. Experiences that DO what your brand says it stands for.


In 2020, consumers are increasingly asking, what does your brand stand for? Do the experiences you provide align with my own values and needs in a meaningful way? For brands, answering that question with meaningful experiences does not necessarily mean addressing social justice or COVID-19 head-on in overt ways – although it can. Creating meaningful experiences means connecting with people’s emotional needs and values as they’re rapidly evolving (in 2021, that evolution could look different). It could mean creating a gender-fluid eCommerce navigation. It could mean using a more soothing and empathetic tone befitting the tremendous emotional strain people are experiencing during the pandemic. It’s about creating an Emotionally Intelligent Customer Experience.


An Emotionally Intelligent Customer Experience connects with people by meeting their needs emotionally, not just functionally, and in context of who they are and what they identify with during different stages of their lives. That’s what Isobar did with instrument maker Zildjian when we created an eCommerce experience that reimagines products through their emotional significance depending on whether someone is a beginner or seasoned musician. Empathy is about creating connections like that. Empathy is about understanding someone’s needs and delivering an experience that connects with those needs. A customer’s needs might be connected to a life-changing event such as COVID-19, but not necessarily. The experience we created for Zildjian had nothing to do with COVID-19. But the experience was rooted in empathy just the same.


Rising to the challenge takes a process and a team that seamlessly combines digital expertise, empathic human understanding and a willingness to be bold and take creative risks. Empathy allows you to tap into your customer’s wants and needs and align your experience design with them. You also need tools that help you understand the emotional drivers that inspire people to act.


Creativity IS an essential component of survival for business and the human experience. And I don’t just mean the content we all survived on from streaming services during lockdown, though that plays its part too. But, survival is the task at hand for many businesses and brands and we’re digging in to make it happen. 


On Wednesday, July 22, at 11:00 a.m. EDT, our own Head of Commerce Strategy Jon Reily is going to share a number of insights about how the customer journey has changed and how businesses can respond to it successfully. He’ll draw from the Capitalising on Commerce report that I cited earlier in this post. Sign up here and learn how to uncover five key actions to help enhance the commerce strategy of your brand as we evolve through COVID-19.