Over the next decade, we will see large changes in the way people prefer to do business. Brands that study and stay ahead of emerging trends will see success and growth, while others that lack in preparations will see the effects. Being able to be agile in your processes, continually change and evolve with ease but still use the foundation you have built to maintain your core capabilities will allow you to see this success and growth in the near and far term.
One part of your core foundation moving forward should be your e-Commerce technology platform. The biggest challenge merchants are faced with when choosing an e-Commerce technology platform is assessing their current state, taking stock of what’s working well and what needs to be improved in order to advance growth long-term and achieve leadership’s vision.
So how can you choose e-Commerce technology that will ensure you are ready for whatever the future of your business holds?
1. Reduce barriers and gaps in your digital operations. Don’t think of these barriers as exclusively “customer facing” or “backend” operations — they encapsulate your entire organization. You will want to align with anyone within your organization who touches the e-Commerce experience to create this list. Some important items might include:
- Integration with other systems to have one single view of customer data;
- Ease of use for business users to make their updates now and in the future;
- Ability to continually and effortlessly evolve the site content and experience;
- Ability to create customizations to the checkout process;
- Making every moment in the customer journey “shoppable” by thinking beyond e-Commerce to social, blogs and videos;
- Ease of integration into marketplaces such as Amazon and Google Merchant Center;
- Improving device capabilities for both customer-facing and backend applications; and
- Personalization capabilities: are they available on your current platform and do you want to see additional options? If so, what are they?
2. Update (and integrate) your technology. Creating your core foundation for future-readiness means bringing together all systems and infrastructure, including your e-Commerce technology. Many merchants are running numerous disparate systems, many antiquated and unable to keep up with the modern demands of the digital customer. By updating technology to offer improved, ideally complete integration, you will then be able to gain your single view of customer data across all business units and improve elements such as customer loyalty, speed to market and personalization through your collaborative platform. This alone will help you become more agile and aware of emerging trends that you should work towards.
3. List your Must-Haves (and don’t sell yourself short!). The e-Commerce technology you choose should, at minimum, provide superior scalability and offer the performance to continuously innovate into the future, but what other requirements do you want your technology to hold? After identifying barriers and gaps, it will be a lot easier to make this list of “must haves” in your e-Commerce technology. Once this list is created, don’t sell yourself short and settle! Common requirements listed by merchants that are peering into their future include capabilities such as responsive storefront, API-first architecture, personalization capabilities, multi-site on a single platform and reporting tools.
Knowing where the market is growing and where to invest is an important part of the success and growth of your business. Consider the company you want to become in three, five or 10+ years, and what you will need to do from a creation and innovation perspective without continually revamping your back-office systems and related business processes. Choosing the right e-Commerce platform will help drive growth through the opportunity to sell new services, new supplies and new value to your clients.
Kali Kasprzyk leads marketing strategy at Echidna, a leading digital systems agency dedicated to helping merchants with the strategy, design, implementation and continuous innovation of their modern commerce business systems. Echidna believes that by taking a holistic approach to collaborative solution design, merchants will be empowered to accelerate their growth and create a true competitive edge in their market. Kasprzyk’s expertise includes researching and writing about cloud technology, user experience, and e-Commerce trends.