Many companies are daunted by the idea of building a richer digital experience for consumers right now. Those with limited infrastructure or resources can consider using no-code and low-code tools to create experiences that go beyond the transaction. These tools require little or no help from a developer, making them compatible with working from home. You can use them to create digital experiences that go deeper than transaction basics, like payment processing and order fulfillment. You engage customers in ways that add value to your brand.


Make digital commerce more “in-person”

We are hurting for the day-to-day interactions that used to lift us up, like a laugh with our hairdresser or favorite barista. People are turning to digital experiences – like meeting friends for coffee online. Commerce brands can join the trend with online forums and other digital experiences that help everyone feel more connected right now. How can you play a role in fostering these connections?

While it might seem too difficult to build digital experiences from scratch right now, creating a commerce portal is relatively easy. It also boosts customer engagement while getting them the information they need. A commerce portal is simply an authenticated digital doorway to interactions and content that you tailor to your customers. Look for tools with out-of-the-box (OOTB) components to speed the creation of engaging digital experiences. OOTB components are ready-to-use building blocks that let you deploy experiences like the ones listed below faster.

Here are five digital ways to use portals to go beyond the transaction while working from home:


1. Make loyalty programs digital-friendly

Ensure your best members have an easy way to manage and redeem rewards online. Revisit your rewards experience, ensuring it doesn’t require an in-person interaction. You may find customers who usually shop in stores need a little explanation of how to take advantage of your loyalty program digitally.

Beer and beverage company Mahou San Miguel created a personalized loyalty portal. Fans of Mahou San Miguel brands sign up for the program online. They get points when they enter product codes from cans and bottles online. Redeeming points is as easy as selecting a gift or experience. Based on the members' stated interests and locations, the company matches members with experiences they might enjoy.


2. Personalize your portal content

Initial content efforts should focus on delivering fast access to information about crisis-driven changes to policies and hours. Personalize that content by region and customer using the data in your CRM. Some content management systems connect to CRM data readily, making personalization simple. But don’t stop there.

Once you’ve handled crisis communication, focus on connecting customers to information they may find useful or interesting in their current situation, while hunkered down during a pandemic. For example, pizza lovers might be interested in trying to make dough from scratch for the first time. So if you’re a grocer, your portal could offer instructions along with a recipe and related shopping list.  


3. Promote (or launch) community forums

This is also the perfect time to let the world know about the community or forum you already use to connect with your biggest fans. Now that access is limited to in-person events, people who aren’t usually “forum types” may be surprisingly eager to join your community, share tips, and give and get advice.

Financial technology provider nCino does a nice job offering added benefits for its online community members. Within the community, members share ideas, interact with subject matter experts, and vote for future product developments. The digital experience keeps people up to date and adds value in an environment that’s also social. nCino also highlights their community on its COVID-19 response page, helping users take advantage of this interactive resource. 


4. Reimagine VIP experiences

Use data-driven personalization to help customers find and schedule in-person product pick-up options in their areas. Consider ways to offer an online version of the VIP shopping experience you may provide to your best customers. A portal can help you stand up these VIP experiences quickly.  For instance, an exercise retailer might offer VIPs access to a coaching tool or goal tracker. 


5. Streamline post-purchase transactions

Make it easy for customers to register warranties, schedule deliveries, and apply for credit – without having to start an assisted interaction. These types of interactions don’t need to feel like contacting customer service. For example, you can make scheduling (and rescheduling) a delivery more seamless by finding ways to reduce the number of clicks required. Easy post-purchase management goes a long way toward making customers happier. That’s because you’re providing customers with processes that they control. 

Outerwear-maker Canada Goose stands behind its products with a warranty covering materials and craftsmanship – for the lifetime of the product. And the company provides a simple and digital way to connect to warranty information and registration. An online warranty experience can be as simple as a digital form that lets customers register their product no matter where they bought it. But what if you sell products covered by a variety of warranty terms? Retailer Mattress Firm sells products from multiple manufacturers, each with their own warranty. To simplify this, Mattress Firm offers a portal that guides customers through the warranty process for the many products they sell. 

Upgrading digital experiences can have a big impact on customer loyalty during this unprecedented time. Commerce businesses can use this as an opportunity to create new experiences for their customers and think beyond the transaction.

Learn more about building your own portal

To learn more about how to implement the advice above, watch “Reimagine How You Digitize the Customer Lifecycle as You Work from Home.” You’ll hear from portal experts and explore how you can forge deeper relationships with customers – even if you’re working from home. Watch it now.

To get more tips on navigating change, read other articles in our Leading Through Change series. Find thought leadership, tips, and resources to help business leaders manage through crisis.