The most important trait for a professional working in digital marketing or ecommerce is empathy. It’s the driver to keep improving customer experiences in a world that’s continuously redefined by technology.

That’s the view of Matt Day, Digital Marketing & Ecommerce Manager Spalding, the world’s largest basketball equipment maker.

“When you have empathy you always want to make things better. That’s really important with digital because, at best, you’re only ever going to be halfway there because it’s changing all the time,” Day told Which-50 during an interview between sessions at Salesforce’s Connections event in Chicago last week.

“The thing about journeys, and especially the digital journey is that it is never over, and that takes a lot of optimism and a lot of empathy to get up everyday and say, ‘what can we make better today?’ and have that always be a continuous loop.”

For example, every Thursday Spalding’s customer service team exports data from its Service Cloud about what customers are saying which is sent to the marketing and development teams to identify what can be changed in the next sprint.

Spalding reassessed its digital strategy 18 months ago to ensure the brand understands its audience (both B2B and B2C) and connects with them in all the ways basketball impacts their lives, for example from the first time they dribble a ball to becoming a fan or coaching a team.

The brand selected the Salesforce family of software, including Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud to enable its ecommerce platform and customer loyalty program.

As well as launching its ecommerce site, Spalding’s digital strategy also had to provide value to its other retail and channel partners, Day said. That meant developing specific strategies for fans, retailers and partners.

For example, last week the company announced its basketballs are now in every Amazon Prime Now facility in the US to enable two hour delivery.

“We saw the value of being able to shorten the time when you need something, especially in America’s biggest cities, where the game isn’t as accessible as you think. There’s always going to be moments where your ball might be flat, or if you’re a coach and you lock yourself out of your car and can’t get the ball bag. What happens in those moments?”

With a bricks and mortar retailer like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Spalding created a limited edition basketball line that was offered first to Spalding MVP members.

“Not only did our members sell our inventory out, they also sold out Dick’s Sporting Goods inventory immediately,” Day said.

And, on the consumer side, Spalding launched a tool to customise basketballs on its own ecommerce store with logos, colours and text.

“There’s a lot of things that we’re opening up to see what would be valuable to customers and will be valuable to our retailers,” Day said.

“The rule of thumb there, though, is no one should offer a better experience with your brand than yourself.”

“The brand has to own that relationship so they can go to the retailer and say ‘this is what our customers want’ or if they bought something from somewhere and have an issue with with it, we better repair it fast because that helps the retailer out too.”

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