4 Tips for Survival in the E-Commerce Jungle

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4 Tips for Survival in the E-Commerce Jungle

By Laura Brooks - 12/13/2017

Retail organizations need more than a website overhaul or targeted push notifications to stay relevant. They need to rock their e-commerce strategy to its core.

Customers are expecting personalized experiences across web, mobile and even IoT devices. But innovation on the consumer side can fall flat if the back end doesn’t pull its weight. Behind the curtain, commerce teams are juggling payments, warehouse logistics, in-store systems and delivery management solutions all at once. Luckily, the market for e-commerce tools has evolved to ease the burden, but as always, new technology is a big investment in time, money and resources. Without a clear commerce strategy in place, the risks can outweigh the rewards.

It’s time to face the facts: upping your e-commerce game is no longer a choice—it’s a necessity. For brands to do so successfully, they’re faced with two options: adopt a best-of-breed strategy, or go all-in on a vendor suite. Opting for the all-in-one approach will inevitably require ripping and replacing existing solutions, with the risks, costs and time this implies. Even more, questions will linger about future technologies or capabilities hitting the market: how long will it take for your “suite vendor” to accommodate new technologies? Will there be an added cost or heavy manual integration to follow?

Given the fast-paced nature of the e-commerce landscape, opting for best-of-breed solutions is quickly becoming the preferred path. This approach gives teams the freedom to identify and adopt agile solutions that easily integrate into their existing digital ecosystem. Each user will have access to the best possible solution—allowing different teams, departments and regions to work with commerce tools that support their specific needs.

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Discover more on how to become the digital hero of your organization, transforming your customers’ experiences, at NRF 2018 on Monday, January 15, from 11:30 to 12:30. Elsom Eldridge, National Sales and Marketing Director, Boy Scouts of America, Supply Group, will share insights in the session "Digital Transformation All Stars: Not All Heroes Wear Capes."

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As brands start investing in best-of-breed strategies, they’ll find themselves in a strategic position to boost customer experience, and ultimately their bottom line. But before customer demands are fully met, e-commerce teams should keep the following four tips in mind:

  1. Enable flexibility: When evaluating digital commerce platforms, look for an open, flexible solution that can accommodate integrated services. This will ensure that your platform works with current and future investments, trends in the market, and evolving buyer expectations. Working with a platform that’s API-driven will enable easy integrations with current commerce technologies, and won’t lock you into a specific vendor down the road.
  2. Unify content & commerce: Today’s consumers expect relevant information at their fingertips and cohesive experiences across devices. Ultimately, this requires brands to merge content with commerce. By breaking down silos between systems, data and content, brands can build and scale experiences on demand. From there, teams can quickly create cohesive shopping experiences with relevant content, which will influence purchase decisions.
  3. Identify a strategic partner: To make the most of your commerce platform, it’s crucial to choose a strategic partner who can provide ongoing expertise, guide you through implementation and ensure that your ecosystem is performing as it should throughout your relationship. You partner should provide integration support across multiple systems, commerce operations, training and onboarding, compliance and security, and continued evaluation of your commerce strategy.
  4. Thoughtfully calculate the TCO: Calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with each of the points above, but be careful not to compromise on flexibility and support. Make sure you take into account the cost of the platform, integrations and implementations, in addition to the cost of maintenance, upgrading and expansion. Luckily, the TCO of taking a best-of-breed approach will likely be far less than a rip and replace strategy in the long-term.

Brands that struggle to keep up with evolving e-commerce trends and technologies will find it increasingly difficult to stay top of mind. Adopting a best-of-breed strategy that enables both flexibility and agility in the market will prove to be a crucial asset for brands across the board, offering the edge needed to compete in an ever-changing e-commerce ecosystem.

-Laura Brooks, VP Commerce at Acquia