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Adobe Summit 2021: A Partner’s Perspective

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Star power like tennis great Serena Williams, comedian Dan Levy, and author Malcolm Gladwell. Firepower across 400 sessions and 11 tracks. There was a lot to be excited about and learned at the Adobe Summit 2021 and I say this as an enthusiastic Adobe Commerce partner. For three days Adobe leaders and industry pros shared their vision for where commerce is headed. They offered insights into the latest innovations and what businesses need to know for a digital-first future.

LiveArea is a longtime partner of Adobe Commerce – formerly Magento Commerce – and we share many clients that have taken digital commerce to new heights with the company’s transformative technology. So, it was no surprise that many leading global brands joined the summit to tell their transformation stories – companies like Pfizer, FedEx, Peloton, Walgreens, General Motors, The Coca-Cola Company, Verizon, and, well, the list goes on. The range of topics covered was equally broad – like Adobe’s expanding commerce portfolio.

The following summit outtakes and observations shed light on digital transformation and opportunities arising in today’s “new normal” with and through the Adobe Experience Cloud. But don’t just take it from me. I encourage you to watch sessions from the Adobe Summit to learn more.

Digital-first world

In his keynote address, Shantanu Narayen, Adobe Chairman, President, and CEO started by highlighting the company’s Digital Economy Index, which revealed record-breaking global growth in digital commerce ($844 billion in eCommerce between March 2020 and February 2021). Adobe predicts that 2022 will be the first trillion-dollar year in eCommerce. To quote Anil Chakravarthy, Adobe Executive Vice President and General Manager, Digital Experience, “Every day felt like Black Friday.”

In 2020, LiveArea along with our sister brand, PFS, saw many of our customers blowing through previously held peak revenues. This kept both teams busy across the front-end experience and back-end warehousing and fulfillment operations. With customer expectations now permanently changed, 2021 shows no signs of letting up on this front.

What’s New

Innovations announced across the summit were too numerous to feature.  For many brands, digital is a critical component of their business, so many of our clients are constantly seeking perspective on what else they can do to drive incremental growth across their commerce business.  Adobe’s strong product roadmap with innovation solutions helps LiveArea bring ideas and thought leadership to our clients in the spirit of continuous improvement.   Here’s a quick look at major announcements — solutions and capabilities to help businesses accelerate their digital transformation

  • Adobe Commerce Capabilities: Powered by artificial intelligence through Adobe Sensei, Product Recommendations in Adobe Commerce now unlock new ways for customers to discover products. Live Search, now in beta, delivers fast and hyper-relevant results and search experiences through a cloud-based SaaS service.
  • Adobe Journey Optimizer: The new Adobe Journey Optimizer, built on Adobe Experience Platform, will help marketers optimize the customer journey at any touchpoint. Brands can actively listen to customer signals while anticipating and delivering the most relevant journey at scale.
  • Customer Data Platform (CDP):Adobe’s next-generation real-time CDP is architected for first-party, data-driven customer acquisition and engagement. This new version of Adobe’s CDP is designed to use brands’ own data, rather than insight from third-party cookies, which are blocked by several web browsers and are soon by Google Chrome. The Adobe will let clients ask consumers for permission to use their information.
  • Customer Journey Analytics: Brands can integrate and standardize their online and offline customer data, enabling anyone to connect that data, visualize it in a unified view, and better understand the entire journey to help inform marketing strategies.
  • Marketing System of Record: This single source of truth connects and manages work across the entire marketing lifecycle, from strategy and planning to execution and measurement.
  • Adobe Experience Manager: Innovations within Adobe Experience Manager help brands create, manage and optimize the content businesses require at the velocity needed to stay ahead. This includes Headless Content Management System (CMS) capabilities, which deliver immersive content as data over APIs and bring advanced AI to content automation.

The total package: Adobe + FedEx

A new collaboration with FedEx was announced that will allow Adobe Commerce merchants to integrate their storefronts with FedEx ShopRunner, allowing them to offer free two-day shipping, seamless checkout, easy returns, and the ability to access FedEx post-purchase logistics intelligence.

Adobe’s collaboration with FedEx and ShopRunner will help brands and merchants better manage their shipping and logistics and allow them to offer a great last-mile delivery experience to retain customers and build loyalty. Brands and merchants shipping with FedEx will also benefit from FedEx post-purchase logistics intelligence to help create a more efficient and reliable experience for brands, merchants, and their customers.

What’s exciting is that this offering can help small and medium size businesses to compete more effectively in an era where the marketplace model, through massive players like Amazon, dominates overall commerce transactions.

Digital Marketing: The Convergence of Art and Science

Customer data is the new business-critical asset fueling value and growth, and that data is powering the more personalized digital marketing and experiences that customers increasingly crave. According to Adobe research, 49% of consumers clicked on a product more often when an ad presented to them was customized. But here’s the rub – and it’s not the move to a cookie-less climate (that’s for another blog): Many companies have more than 10 data platforms, so how can they realistically build a cohesive, intelligent customer journey from so many sources? You must be smart about combining them – this is a “must-do” for digital marketers, in addition to these recommended activities:

  • Improve and prioritize measurement capabilities.
  • Address the move to first-party data, consent, and identify resolution to build consumer trust in a cookie-less world – something innovations in their CDP handles elegantly.
  • Expect a heightened focus on brand purpose along with hyper-personalized ads.
  • Use data to build content marketing agility to feed non-linear customer journeys that continue to evolve.
  • Apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to generate more intelligent, hyper-personalized content.

Many LiveArea client conversations in 2020 and 2021 have been predicated on this notion of improving the fundamentals of their digital marketing capabilities. Like Adobe, LiveArea’s Performance Marketing team believes a strong understanding of the customer, the right supporting technologies, refined content, and disciplined operational processes are the critical elements that factor into driving strong digital business results.

Focus on “total experience”

People aren’t buying products. They are buying experiences – total experiences, which Adobe defines as improved experiences at the intersection of customers, employees, and partners to achieve transformational outcomes.  This focus on the total customer experience is good for business, and numbers shared in a commerce roadmap session bear this out. A “total experience” approach achieves these outcomes:

  • 6x more brand awareness
  • 9x higher average order value
  • 9x greater return on spend
  • 6x higher customer lifetime value
  • 5x more employee satisfaction
  • 7x higher customer retention rates
  • 6x more customer satisfaction
  • 36% faster revenue growth

Not your father’s (or mother’s) B2B

There’s been a dramatic shift to digital in B2B. Jason Woosley, Vice President of Commerce and Developer Experience at Adobe, provided eye-opening stats from a McKinsey survey of B2B decision-makers:

  • 89% said digital is the new norm
  • 85% shift to digital commerce
  • 70-80% prefer digital to in-person interactions
  • 75% said digital is as effective as in-person.

Later this year, Adobe expects to announce additional intelligent commerce support for B2B, but for today it is rolling out an impressive arsenal, including enhanced buyer workflows for B2B. Business buyers now can set up and manage approval workflows within the storefront experience.

Adobe also announced the new B2B Edition of its Real-time Customer Data Platform (CDP), built on Adobe Experience Platform. Available this summer, the platform unifies person and account profiles across systems to give go-to-market teams a complete and trusted understanding of their customers. With real-time profiles, B2B companies have the right foundation for building high-precision audiences and delivering consistent, personalized, account-based experiences quickly and at scale.

With these enhancements, Adobe’s CDP offering now supports both B2B and B2C use cases with a single, unified profile for every person. Companies with both B2B and B2C businesses can ingest, unify and manage both types of data (like a personal email address and buying habits) with account-related data (like open opportunities related to the company they work for) to form B2C person profiles, B2B person profiles or a single profile that contains both types of data.

Adobe Commerce + LiveArea

We are very excited as we roll into Q2 of 2021 — What a great time to be an Adobe partner, especially for LiveArea.  We are on parallel paths as we help brands imagine, design, and execute a digital-first future. The Adobe Experience Cloud continues to evolve ahead of customer expectations for commerce and LiveArea’s portfolio of services is a perfect complement.

LiveArea-Services

We share an unyielding focus on innovation, emerging technologies, connected commerce, performance marketing, and the infusion of data to animate and personalize the customer journey.  Now more than ever, with a robust experience platform and a strong vision to drive differentiated experiences and commerce for brands, we believe our partnership with Adobe will continue to grow.  We are living in a digital world now…not in a world with digital in it.

A huge shout out goes out to the Adobe team for delivering a very successful virtual summit this year.  Not a small task as we have all spent countless hours over the past year on conference calls, at virtual events, and countless webinars with some very real fatigue setting in.  We are all hopeful that next year, our entire LiveArea team supporting the Adobe relationship will be back out under the bright lights of Las Vegas to connect with clients, prospects, and Adobe team members at Summit ‘22!

 

Author: Peter Giersch

Peter Giersch is Senior Vice President of Global Alliances for LiveArea.

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