By Walt Rolle

Since the Internet was opened to the public in the early 1990s, technology has enabled online commerce to expand at a rapid pace. As a consumer, you can reflect on how your own experience has evolved: access to new products and services, peace of mind in improved security protocols, flexible payment options and mobile accessibility to name a few. The need to innovate and compete remains strong today, which is why marketers are currently discussing reinventing commerce. This article will discuss five trends in commerce roadmaps that I see across a variety of industries. How does your roadmap compare?

Owning the Customer Relationship

Marketers want to create a direct one-to-one relationship with customers. In order to do this, the brand’s web property needs to be a destination to self-identify. For example, CPG is offering an alternative to the distributor and QSR is looking to serve you without using a third party delivery service. In the marketers’ roadmap, the plan is to attract customers by making products easily accessible and then cultivating that relationship by presenting personalized offers. The following features set the foundation for this objective: 

  • Quick and easy self-service registration 
  • Availability of a product or service that incents self-identification 
  • Ability to capture profile information over time that can be used for segmenting 
  • Social media integration 
  • Tools to aggregate data from multiple systems to provide a 360-degree view 
  • Privacy/preference settings to build trust and adhere to laws

Connected Commerce

Consolidation of web properties and platform tools is another key theme in the roadmap to improve customer experience and marketing operations. Marketers have better control of an outcome when an active session remains in the primary web property. All interactions are being captured during the visiting session which can then be used to present compelling real-time offers. Without consolidation the challenge is two-fold: Marketers having to orchestrate tools across multiple platforms and customers having to navigate multiple websites. Imagine going to a retailer and having to conduct research on one system and then purchasing on a separate system. Now compare this to a consolidated customer experience that tells a story with each click and at the end of the journey presents a personalized product or service. Market research shows that your customer will be more likely to buy. 

Accelerators 

Building this kind of journey requires a series of short impactful projects, but the integrations can be complex, and marketers are facing deadlines. Therefore, marketing’s roadmaps favor the use of accelerators: 

  • Front-end design templates 
  • Standardized data models for product catalogs 
  • Pre-built integrations for ERP, CRM, payment, and tax
  • Out-of-the-box search algorithms 
  • Compliance playbooks

Integration Flexibility

Even if you have gained clarity on the functional output and secured the use of accelerators, there is still an ecosystem to be harmonized. A typical list of systems integrations includes: ERP, CRM, PIM, DAM, data warehouses, marketing lists, Excel sheets, and other legacy data stores. For this reason, the marketers’ roadmap calls for flexibility of integration options. The commerce platform needs to easily ingest and share data with the supporting systems through modern technology standards that are easily understood by implementors.

KPIs and Attribution

The final trend is measurement, and it provides the reasoning for continuing to invest in the platform. Common metrics such as visits, average page time, abandoned cart percentage, and total sales are not enough to tell a story that supports marketing spend. Marketers need to know if the hypothesis behind a particular campaign has paid dividends. Examples of measurement are: 

  • Scoring engagement to separate raw visit metrics from value 
  • Comparing conversion of a targeted journey for a persona vs. one-size-fits-all messaging 
  • Attributing sales to recent campaign activity such as a product rollout 
  • A/B testing of various messaging techniques 
  • Promotion effectiveness 
  • Sales funnel reports using website activity 
  • Referral activity from influencers

As 2020 quickly approaches, this article provides some ideas that should be top of mind on when building a roadmap for reinventing commerce. Use these examples as target objectives and then let your project team evaluate the best platform to solve for these goals. With this information in hand you can plot out a roadmap that incrementally delivers these features to market, over time, to establish direct relationships with your customers, a relationship that will last for life.

Walt Rolle leads the Digital Sales & Marketing practice for RDA, a Sitecore partner, helping his clients launch digital transformation that works through accurate technical guidance and a rock-solid management strategy.

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