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Four Steps to Retail Commerce Innovation

Today’s retail landscape is disrupted by new technologies and channels that are emerging at breakneck paces. This creates a retail future that’s full of both challenges and opportunities. From direct buy options on social media to robots, voice-activated assistants, and even virtual dressing rooms, retailers are tasked with finding creative ways to stand out and support customer experiences across all channels in the post-web era. There is a wide array of technologies available to realize this, but many retailers remain constrained by outdated commerce platforms, written in a monolithic style that is costly to maintain and require weeks or months to modify.

Do more with less reliance on IT
It is obvious retailers need to shift to a more flexible, componentized architecture, based on content and experience management solutions that are more accessible and intuitive for business users than ever before. And when coupled with an API oriented digital commerce platform, these applications enable marketing teams to do more on their own with less reliance on IT.

Which steps should you take to transform from the old world to the post-web era and to benefit from commerce innovation?  Transforming retailers are taking the following four steps:

Step 1Evaluate your needs and opportunities. What are the gaps in your current solution that need to be filled? Think about the problems hindering your business, as well as new opportunities for change. Do your research to pinpoint primary goals, customer demands, benchmarks for success and target segments, to name a few. A tech-savvy web design agency or solution provider can help with this step.

Step 2 –  Decide what you want to change first. Go after the biggest gaps to get started. Or take on a smaller, more isolated project to test first. Regardless of what you choose to tackle in the beginning, be sure that your goals, strategies, and decisions align with your overall company focus and direction for the future.

Step 3 –  Start innovating, without the risk of failure. Run your current platform and new commerce functionality in parallel to test a single, stand-alone component (a so-called microservice) and see how it performs (i.e., payment or cart and order management). Get creative and add new functions that keep your company ahead of trends. For example, you can maintain your current website and also start selling on Facebook using a customized, pre-configured social integration. Or, integrate on Pinterest to gain more visibility for your brand.

Step 4 – Maintain forward momentum. Stay focused on your big goals to encourage ongoing innovation. Continue replacing parts of your old architecture to arrive at a complete, modern commerce solution — one that creates a consistent, engaging experience across multiple channels and touchpoints. Eventually, the same back-end platform will support every aspect of your innovative brand experience, whether your customer is looking at a virtual shelf or browsing products on a mobile device. And as time goes on, you can leverage your new commerce platform to gain better insight into customer behavior and gauge the effectiveness of certain components and campaigns.

The Benefits
By taking these gradual, yet effective steps toward a new and improved modern commerce platform, your company will benefit from an agile platform, delivered as a cloud-based solution that’s ready for use. That means you don’t have to do a single thing to maintain it. And because the platform is automatically and seamlessly updated several times a week, you don’t have to waste time and energy worrying about how your solution is running, if it’s performing properly, or whether it’s safe and secure. Instead, you get the freedom to implement smart functions, ideas, and campaigns to make your job even easier.

Scalability Guaranteed
In addition, scalability is guaranteed, as a cloud-based solution automatically accommodates increases in traffic. As your business evolves and grows, the platform automatically scales based on  your needs, ensuring ongoing performance. So instead of hesitating to launch a campaign because you’re worried about site downtime or slow performance, you can focus on ways to create unique commerce experiences.

Speed is one of the most significant benefits of modern commerce solutions.  You’ll be better equipped to keep up with customer demands, allowing you to launch new  products quickly and seamlessly, without relying on IT. With a single, omnichannel product catalog (website, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.), there’s no need to manually add new products into individual management systems. Moreover, the hassle of merchandising separately across channels or updating individual catalogs is eliminated.

Last but not least, a modern platform will provide an outstanding return on investment. Instead of a time-consuming and costly rip and replace project, it is possible to innovate with reasonable resources and see a big impact in a fairly short period of time.

If you’re interested in jumping right in to see which tools you need for retail innovation, please visit our Resources page and have a look at the white paper ‘Reimagining Retail Commerce…With the Right Tools’.

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