In today’s rapidly evolving digital world, often referred to as the “Age of Amazon,” it's become increasingly important for companies to envision and implement comprehensive commerce strategies to better connect with consumers in a meaningful way. However, only a quarter of executives at major enterprises believe their organizations are on the right track in this regard. While it's generally understood that huge opportunities exist for those that can leverage the potential of digital commerce channels, many lack the ability and commitment necessary to execute a successful program.
According to new research from Verndale, there's a need for retailers to improve the execution of their commerce strategies in 2016, enabling their actions to support the vision and plans that have often made it only as far as a few whiteboards drawings. Seventy-two percent of marketing and technology executives surveyed agreed that user experience for commerce is a high priority within their organization, however, the majority feel they aren’t currently reaching that channel’s audience in an effective way to drive sales and ultimately brand loyalty. Today’s marketplace is filled with demanding consumers who hold high expectations when it comes to brand experiences, making it critical for companies to not only have the right strategy in place, but also the expertise and capacity of resources to deliver these relevant and personalized experiences.
The majority of executives surveyed recognize digital commerce platforms as highly complex systems and feel they lack internal expertise when it comes to implementation. With shoppers accessing products across numerous channels and expecting a fluid, unified and personalized experience, the infrastructure necessary to support these experiences is only getting more complicated. Forty-five percent of marketing and technology executives admit that managing an IT platform is their company's biggest day-to-day challenge, and many are bringing in outside help. Fifty-three percent of executives acknowledge that hiring external partners or blending external expertise with their internal resources is central to their implementation of digital commerce projects moving forward.
For retailers, digital commerce is a huge priority and many see it as their ticket into the future. That said, many are still working to address the challenges and complexities in making this a reality. Creating an individualized experience for visitors is an important end goal for all brands as they determine the most effective way to engage directly with each consumer. Retailers should re-evaluate how their IT platforms deliver customized experiences by working through the complexities that exist in linking multiple channels to one another.
In today’s digital world, consumers expect more from retailers. They're looking for unique experiences that are unified across all channels, devices and touchpoints. If a customer feels disconnected from a brand, they can choose from hundreds of others that are similar and offer an experience more aligned to their expectations. Digital commerce technology paired with a relevant and cohesive marketing strategy is key in achieving the best customer experiences. Senior management across all disciplines are coming to recognize that open and frequent communication between IT and marketing experts will inform this digital commerce strategy and lead to better execution results.
2016 will be the year that redefines digital commerce approaches and enables companies to learn how to successfully execute plans for immediate results. Reflecting the increasing connection and common purpose between IT and marketing, the Verndale study confirms 2016 budget levels of up to 30 percent — from both marketing (54 percent) and IT (48 percent) respondents — will be directly applied to the digital commerce platform and experiences. If designed against a properly constructed strategic vision and plan, these digital commerce investments will increase customer engagement and a brand’s ability to build on these strategic capabilities in the future. All this will return not only increased sales revenue, but also secure the loyalty of these customers well beyond their first purchase.
Jeff Pratt is the commerce experience practice director at Verndale, a marketing technology agency.