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Aug 31, 2017 | 4 minute read

Defining a Digital Commerce Strategy to Win: 4 Questions Every Brand Should Ask

written by Harry Chemko

Digital commerce has changed business forever.

10 years ago would you even imagine talking to your phone to get recommendations for dinner, getting a real-time map to the restaurant helping you avoid construction, buying something on Amazon for delivery that evening while waiting for a table, and checking in on the kids via the security cameras during dinner? The least exciting thing you can do with your mobile phone nowadays is to make a call.

Commerce today is about customer experience, relationships and consistent personalization across all devices. It’s about discovery, attachment and intimacy. Even more, it’s about being able to future proof business models you haven’t even conceived yet.

For example, what is your commerce of things strategy? When will you be launching your first social commerce experience? The companies at the top of every industry are all working on these challenges and more. They know that their future depends on being able to pivot quickly, taking advantage of new touchpoints and technologies as soon as they arrive. The question is which commerce platform to choose?

From our experience, every brand should ask four key questions:

    1. Does our business demand continuous differentiation? Does your company need to continuously differentiate itself from others through a superior user experience?Businesses competing only on price are in a race to zero. Industry leaders differentiate their brand through customer experience. Choose an ecommerce framework that can extend to new touchpoints and leverage new technologies -- one that is adaptable and scalable and that offers true enterprise-grade commerce capabilities.
    2. All in one? Or build with the best? Most commerce platforms are crippled by early architecture decisions and years of piling on one off customer requirements resulting in an inflexible monolith. These are still early days in terms of commerce platform maturity. New technologies are continuously being brought to market. It might sound easy to go with a turnkey commerce platform. However, all-in-one, full-stack, or monolithic solutions don’t give you the opportunity to easily take advantage of new touchpoints or applications. Worse, they might not be flexible enough to keep up with an evolving business strategy. Their technologies are fundamentally closed; requiring costly customization projects, or are limited to a subset of third-party applications.Today, many Fortune-1,000 companies are taking a best of breed approach to ensure that they offer commerce experiences that no one else does. And that’s not easy because as soon as new functionality hits the market, eventually everyone gets it. Remember when no one had product recommendations? “People who bought this item also bought this?” Now, almost every retail site has that capability. Dynamic pricing is currently being used by airlines, telecommunications and entertainment. Other industries won’t be far behind.Gartner Group is predicting that by 2018 half of all new commerce solutions will take advantage of no less than 15 different vendor applications. The single-stack, monoliths of the computing world would have you believe that their solutions are best of breed. However, when many of the best haven’t even been invented yet, how can that be true? If a commerce platform is not open and flexible it won’t be able to adopt new technologies swiftly.
    3. Is our organization looking to change its business model?The digital economy continues to surface disruptive business models.If you are looking to transform your business, then an open, API-based headless commerce platform will be a good bet for the future. API-based commerce allows your system to easily connect to any front-end marketing application or technology and any backend or legacy system.What’s most important is how the API works. A hypermedia API allows developers to create connections to new devices and technologies more easily by exposing resources as simple links, making it easier to develop new business experiences.

cloud Digital Commerce StrategyCloud or Not? Moving to the cloud dramatically reduces computing costs. Running Elastic Path Commerce Cloud for AWS eliminates 90% of computing infrastructure and labor costs.

  1. Cloud or not?Moving to the cloud dramatically reduces computing costs. For example, we ran the numbers for our new Elastic Path Commerce Cloud for AWS. They showed that running in the cloud will eliminate 90% of computing infrastructure and labor costs. While that’s a compelling cost of ownership argument, there may be a technical or regulatory reason for not shifting your commerce application to a public cloud. In that case, choose a robust ecommerce platform for your on premise solution, but make sure that it provides the option to move to the cloud when constraints lift.There’s another reason to consider the cloud. The internet of things is going to increase the number of commerce touchpoints exponentially. If you are building customer experiences into more touchpoints, you’ll need to easily flex your computing power. Public clouds can on demand right-size the computing infrastructure you need to meet steady and peak demand.

Questioning the pros and cons of different commerce platforms? We can help you make the right decision. Contact Elastic Path for a complimentary Discovery Session.