Is there anything at all that is not being traded online these days? Every possible industry today has jumped on the bandwagon and set up its e-stores. But that’s only a good start. To gain a digital ground and initiate sales, businesses need to implement a process that adopts a digital approach at every stage of their journey.
57.7% of businesses invested in Digital Commerce technology in 2019, however, most of the organizations often treat digital commerce as a one-time project and leave the application architecture out of sync with business requirements.
Shaping Your Digital Commerce Strategy
For any eCommerce strategy to succeed in a growingly competitive landscape, it is essential to ensure that every stage of its development appoints relevant resources and functionalities that can aid in delivering great customer experience. Here are the 6Ds that can help businesses navigate the uncharted waters when building a digital commerce strategy.
1. Develop Cross-Functional Collaborations
What better way to start than cultivating a team culture that breaks silos and allows a free-flow of information? The most important reason to adopt a cross-functional setup is to diminish the gaps between various teams and ensure optimal performances, better innovation, and greater results. By doing away with rigid processes and bulky technologies, teams experience improved communication and higher proficiency that eventually reflects in the products and the customer experience.
For instance, CarMax, the largest used-car seller in the US, has adopted an agile approach that relies on cross-functional teams.
“Data and analytics are core to evaluating test results, and the heartbeat of the concept is driven by the work of a collaborative and cross-functional team.” – Jim Lyski, CMO, CarMax
In fact, even beyond teams, CarMax applies this methodology for its stores, allowing its staff to learn and execute multiple functions for a cross-functional workplace. In addition to the Agile approach, DevOps too as a set of processes helps unify teams and by focusing on production and performance rather than individual goals.
2. Define Business Requirements
Mapping the factors that pave the way for a successful product help in establishing a vision and defining goals for the business. Business requirements can be effectively drawn by collecting perspectives from different stakeholders to collate key elements that ensure that the business thrives. These can include relevant data, sales forecasts, and robust marketing plans. All of this eventually leads to powerful customer experience, consistent digital revenue, expansion to new markets, and successful customer retention.
In 2018, an estimated 1.8 billion people worldwide purchased goods online. During the same year, global e-retail sales amounted to 2.8 trillion U.S. dollars and projections show a growth of up to 4.8 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021.
This data stresses on the importance of prioritizing business requirements and aligning the digital marketing strategy with your business goals to be able to cash in on the huge number of online shoppers.
3. Design an Omnichannel Experience
In a time when your customer is likely to look for your product at one place, buy it at a different place and collect it from a third, omnichannel is your best bet. This customer behavior also indicates how important it is to ensure that all of them are seamlessly linked to push your customers through the sales funnel without compromising on their personalized shopping experience.
Customers who have an omnichannel experience spend 13 percent more than those who only use one channel.
A good example of brand delivering omnichannel experience is that of the personal care and beauty brand Sephora which offers its users multiple ways to indulge in their shopping journey. Their innovative approaches enable customers to shift from online to instore and vice versa without feeling disconnected while shopping for a product.
4. Determine the Technical Architecture
The next step is to decide on the content management aspects. With the rise of omnichannel approaches and personalized content, it has become imperative for businesses to sync and manage content on a large scale. To maintain consistency in the user’s online experience at every touchpoint, businesses have a range of digital experience platforms to choose from including CMS, DXP, DAM, and CRM.
73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
Yet only 49% of U.S. consumers say companies provide a good customer experience today. These numbers are in fact an opportunity for businesses to switch to the ideal digital platform, which can help enhance your organization’s interaction with customers.
5. Derive a Solution
The success of a product or solution is eventually pushing its users towards a successful transaction. Factors that can encourage sales involve customer care, digital store management, localization, merchandise management, reporting, and data analytics. All of the above processes can succeed when they are backed by data-driven insights. For instance, sellers need to efficiently use the relevant data available in order to localize and plan assortment to meet local demands.
Instead of separating metrics from online and offline channels, we focus our attention on capturing everything including website activity, in-store sales, call centre volume, return volume, order cancellations, and much more, thus enabling us to make the best decisions to improve the shopper experience across all touchpoints. – Ranjeet Bhosale, director of online analytics and business intelligence, The Home Depot
The Home Depot, one of the largest home improvement retailers in the US has built a solution that relies on data-backed insights to be able to access a 360-degree profile of their customers. The sixth-largest e-commerce site in the world, The Home Depot offers more than one million products, while helping the company achieve $108.2 billion dollars in annual revenue.
6. Deploy Continuously
When the platform is all set to go live, continuous deployment helps automate the steps that lead to the code release so that every integration is successful and the new code is parallelly updated. This makes changes visible to the users and in turn, helps get quicker feedback whenever a new feature is released. Also, no product can stand the test of time if the business is not at the forefront of research and innovation which is aimed at persistent improvements and optimization.
With the big technological leap in 2014, Walmart showed the world how it’s done. To up its online game and keep up with the ever-changing customer preferences, it shifted its eCommerce stack to OpenStack.
Walmart runs 170,000 computing cores on OpenStack, but perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that Walmart is not just a consumer of open-source; it is also an active contributor with more than 60 open-source projects.
It wasn’t a predictable decision from a brick and mortar business nevertheless, an inevitable step to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of technological advancements.
A carefully curated digital commerce strategy can help a business create an impactful customer experience. The multiple examples mentioned above depict how innovation and experiments have resulted in building products that offer their users unparalleled shopping experiences.
Omnichannel processes, agile approach along with the other key factors stated in the article are imperative for establishing an integrated and seamless user interface. Therefore, in addition to managing an eCommerce website and having a marketing plan in place, it is a clear digital commerce strategy that has become a driving impetus in transforming a website visitor into a loyal customer.