Retail industry executives have issued a mandate to commerce technology providers to help retailers and brands exceed expectations of the new and empowered digital consumer. “The Digital Directives:a Manifestoto Commerce Technology Providers” was collaboratively developed during a workshop initiated and facilitated by Demandware, Inc. preceding the Cross-Channel Retail Executive Summit, hosted by RIS News, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Shoppers experience the brand through the lens of technology, but most retailers are unable to innovate at the same pace of today’s digital consumers. Recognizing that drastic changes must occur to meet these escalating expectations, 20 leading marketing, ecommerce and IT executives across multiple industries including footwear, apparel, sporting goods and several specialty retailers, convened to outline clear marching orders for technology vendors.
“The Digital Directives” calls for vendors to fundamentally change their traditional engagement and delivery models and partner in a more meaningful, strategic and sustainable way. Bending under stress from consumers, participants asserted that technical interoperability, flexibility and usability from their commerce technology is required to deliver a harmonized brand experience across all shopping interactions, including websites, social networks, mobile devices, tablets, kiosks or in-store.
With a unified voice, these retailers established seven interrelated directives that ask the vendor community to deliver capabilities and innovation required to excel in front of consumers. The Digital Directives are:
- Deliver ongoing success beyond the software sale.
- Solve business problems; don’t sell products.
- Ensure technology is interoperable and extensible.
- Enable faster innovation to consumers.
- Extend commerce capabilities easily into any application, channel, or device.
- Unify brand experiences for digital consumers.
- Enable merchants to do their job with minimal reliance on IT.
Yul Vanek, vice president of IT at Deckers Outdoor and one of the 20 participants, illustrated the importance of these directives by saying, “Internal teams must be allowed to focus on business enablement, user experience, and systems integration. We don’t want to be in the software development business.”
The fact that e-commerce is inherently a customer-facing activity puts a lot of stress on retailers, says Rob Garf, vice president of product and solutions marketing for Demandware. Retailers can get by with bumps in the supply chain and wrinkles in their merchandising activities, but it’s difficult to “hide your unwieldiness from the consumer,” he adds.
“While the burden largely falls on our shoulders from a vendor standpoint, I was encouraged that the retailers and brand manufacturers acknowledged that there is also an opportunity for them to redefine relationships, share strategic direction and focus on collaboratively solving business and consumer problems,” said. “There is tremendous momentum and excitement behind these directives and we look forward to sharing how Demandware will help to address these challenges.
“We wanted to define a common language through which retailers and ecommerce vendors can solve their business problems,” Garf continues. “As one participant said, ‘CIOs want to see the love after the P.O. is cut. They want to see ongoing success – and accountability – after the software sale.”
Influence the Mandate: Join the Discussion
Over the coming months, Demandware will hold a series of panel discussions in various cities where retailers and brands can discuss and debate the implications of “The Digital Directives.”Representatives of retailers and branded manufacturers are invited to attend these exclusive events and influence the mandate through these open discussions.
The first events will take place in New York City on Oct. 25 and in San Francisco on Oct. 27. Each will consist of a panel of retail executives and industry influencers and will be moderated by Jeffrey Rayport; operating partner with Castanea Partners during the New York City event and Cathy Hotka; principal with Cathy Hotka & Associates during the San Francisco event.
For more information about The Digital Directives and these events, email [email protected]. The Digital Directives mandate can be found at www.digitaldirectives.org.