With 2014 just begun and the digital revolution in full swing, it’s a good time to look back over the tremendous amount of change that has taken place in the industry over the past few years to chart exactly where it’s going.
The Evolution of Ecommerce
Ecommerce from its beginning until now has largely been about shopping online in a traditional web storefront. Now things are changing and the lines between offline and online are becoming increasingly blurred. We are literally only seconds away from a piece of glass that gets us connected anywhere – mobile phones, tablets and a number of emerging gadgets even act as “second screens” in front of our computers and televisions. At any given moment, you are connected.
Always On, Always Connected
Whether you’re consuming a piece of content, playing a game, researching a company or trying to find your friends or photos, your experience is always available, all the time. Companies now have to figure out how to live in this world. How do they put themselves in front of their customers 24x7 in a way that tells their story, engages and delights their customers, and pulls them into their community to ultimately generate revenue?
In this always-on world with its multi-touchpoint devices, you may be walking down the street with Google Glass and spot something that’s interesting. You may want to buy it, learn more about it, or you might just want to send it to a friend to see what they think.
Companies need to find a way to foster this engagement. Instead of sending a person to a website to do the browse-find-discover-buy process over again, instant engagement captures customers at their “zero moment of truth.” No matter where customers are, they can be one interaction away from purchase.
It’s all about the Customer Experience
Marketers want to delight their customers by creating brand experiences on apps, mobile sites, interactive billboards and a variety of emerging touchpoints. It’s all about the experience and it’s all about the customer – what people want to buy, when they are ready to buy.
With a traditional online storefront, all you had to do was create an efficient, good looking website that was simple to use and served the purpose of that shopping experience. But now, ecommerce capabilities that once were the domain of IT now must be made available to the business user, causing a seismic shift in roles and responsibilities.
In order for marketers to create these really awesome customer experiences, IT has a set of technologies that are what are traditionally call backend systems or systems of record. This is where a lot of the data lives. All your business rules and logic – everything that your business does is somehow contained in these systems, such as your ERP systems, CRM systems, databases of all types and Content Management System.
These are not technologies that IT or businesses treat lightly. They have invested in them, built them over time and protected them so they don’t change very quickly. That’s one side of the coin.
The other side of the coin is, as a marketer, half the technologies and half the scenarios that you are trying to wrap your head around didn’t even exist three years ago: devices like Google Glass, smart watches and applications like Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat that have come out of nowhere.
The way marketers need to interact with their customers on the front end is moving at the speed of light. Meanwhile, front end systems have to interact with these slow moving pieces on the backend. That’s a real problem.
Elastic Path - New Architecture for a New Paradigm
What’s needed is something in the middle that can bridge this gap.
So that’s what we did with our new Cortex API orchestration layer, which brings both ends of that spectrum together in an entirely new way. Cortex organizes and federates transactions and data going to and from back-end platforms, and exposes them as a simplified, streamlined level three REST API that is much more manageable and useful to marketers. Instead of working with the IT department for months to integrate enterprise capabilities into new digital experiences, internal business groups, agencies, and systems integrators can access them easily via a Cortex API – accelerating innovation, and making it realistic to quickly develop amazing new customer experiences.
We’re currently doing just this for same great global brands like Pearson, Google, Symantec and Western Union. These companies are on a mission, and they’re looking for ways to bring their vision of tomorrow’s digital customer experiences to life.
They love Cortex because they understand where their customers are, the changing landscape of social, mobile and context and they know they need to be there. They are big companies with big backend systems, facing all the IT challenges of every other customer, but keeping with the pace that their customers are at. That’s what makes them great companies.
They’ve invested in Elastic Path to get the technologies they need to pull all the business pieces together so that they can surface them quickly to build great customer experiences that they can generate revenue from.
Opportunities at the New Frontier
I’m excited to announce the next release of our flagship products, Elastic Path Commerce Engine 6.9 and Cortex 1.9 to the readers of Get Elastic. Together, they represent the industry’s first modular and headless ecommerce solution – one specifically designed to provide merchandising and monetization capabilities as an API service that can very easily be integrated into other products and technologies, like content management systems, customer experience platforms, and mobile app development frameworks. It’s a radically new way to engineer an ecommerce platform, and it sets the stage for an amazing new product that we’ll be announcing right before the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in March.
As we head into 2014 it is my hope for all the Get Elastic Readers to be able to create innovative and engaging customer experiences and stay ahead of their competitors. If you would like our help monetizing your brand across every digital touchpoint, please let me know.