Winning In Commerce Today

ThinkstockPhotos 654100072Retailers who move beyond traditional web shops and embrace innovation through modern technology to provide omnichannel engagement will survive today’s competitive market. By Arthur Lawida

Commerce has come a long way since it evolved into an online experience in the 1990s. Its next evolution is centering on a tailored, omnichannel model that requires retailers to intimately understand the customer buying journey, while keeping them engaged with compelling content and concierge-like services. 

This evolution has significantly impacted internal organizational behavior. In the early days of e-commerce, channel executives clashed over revenue attribution, product inventory allocation and marketing resources. Now, whole organizations embrace online as a critical part of the sales cycle. Pure online retailers and brick-and-mortars alike are considering new formulas that can help them create more dynamic and engaging relationships with customers. Channel conflict has given way to cross-channel and omnichannel strategies.

One fundamental hurdle, however, lies in relying on old approaches to commerce to address this drastically different omnichannel landscape. Some retailers are destined to be successful in this new environment while others will struggle – or worse yet – fade away. Those retailers who will evolve as winners embrace three core beliefs.  

Shop at Every Stop

Consumers are more mobile than ever. They are more social than ever. And, they are less tolerant than ever. Across every touchpoint, shoppers look for speed and convenience – from researching products and solutions to ultimately making a purchase, receiving shipments and getting support. Retailers who provide compelling, highly navigable content and make purchasing an option wherever their consumers stop along the journey – social channels, mobile sites or IoT devices – will satisfy and even delight the new digital shopper.

Technology Must be Modern

A winning retailers’ secret sauce is either a well-planned recipe or an evolved concoction of solutions they’ve bought or built over time. However, one area that is increasingly coming under fire as retailers try to meet new consumer demands is commerce platform technology.

Originally designed and written nearly 20 years ago, these monolithic software packages limit a retailer’s ability to move quickly. With millions of lines of intertwined code that require months to modify, older generation software is anchoring retailers to an old coding style that hasn’t evolved to meet the demands of modern enterprise developers.

Today’s leading-edge commerce platforms have moved into the cloud and are designed as smaller building blocks that easily connect to other enterprise technology. Modern commerce platforms allow commerce teams to make more changes and adapt quickly without reliance on the IT department and waiting months for changes.

Teams Must Be Agile

Speed and agility are must-haves for business growth and innovation when investing in a commerce platform for next-generation commerce. From launching new products to enabling custom products, to rolling out new promotional campaigns or business processes, agility must be the new mantra for commerce teams.

With modern technology, retailers can roll out, test and modify new ideas in a month. Partnering with physical storefronts has never been easier for retailers who want to enable click and collect. Teaming with other retailers – or like partners – to promote or sell in new channels can be piloted and tested quickly, providing market feedback to adjust to customer preferences.

While commerce platform technology is just one piece of what goes into retail success, increasingly it is becoming a secret weapon in the arsenal of highly successful retailers who are evolving to not only survive, but also grow and prosper in this tumultuous and ever-changing market.

Arthur Lawida is president of commercetools Inc. and has spent more than 20 years in commerce - consulting, selling and implementing a variety of software and solutions.

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