Digital commerce is continuously evolving. Customer behaviors are changing, and new technologies are on the horizon. And businesses want to be disruptive along the way. Some brands are facing significant roadblocks to delivering better customer experiences that evolve with their customers.
So, what’s the problem? Your outdated commerce platform.
Legacy monolithic commerce platforms are holding you back from transforming your customer’s digital journey and owning your commerce ecosystem. You don’t have the freedom to experiment with new technologies and digital experiences without hurting the entire platform. One mistake can alter your systems and your teams will need to start over.
The modern solution to your infinite problems of broken systems, limited flexibility, and technical debt is a microservices digital commerce architecture. Microservices, as you might’ve heard, are standalone, independently deployable business applications. Each has a dedicated database, well-defined APIs, and an admin console that runs in its process. Microservices enable businesses to build, test, and deploy faster and are easier to develop and maintain as they’re broken into smaller, composable pieces that work well together.
Skava Commerce is built from the ground up on a microservices architecture, with a rich set of APIs to provide access to the individual services. Sounds great. If you’re in the IT organization, the benefits are music to your ears: more scalable, more maintainable, and lower total cost of ownership. But why should the business care?
In my time as a product manager and as a consultant to retailers, I’ve been involved in digital commerce for over two decades and have had the opportunity to see a wide variety of ecommerce platforms in action. Being in a role that sits between the development organization and the business, I’ve formed a perspective on what matters to both groups. When you are not on the IT side, it’s easy to get lost in discussions about architecture and database choices, SLAs and uptimes, and lose the plot on how software platform choices impact your ability to drive the business forward. But the capabilities (and sadly all too often, the limitations) of your platform define the digital playing field for your business and it is critical that you consider the implications of your technology choices.
The Millennium Alliance sat down with Arish Ali, Co-founder and CEO of Skava to gain a first-hand look and perspective on the retail industry as it is today. Check out the interview. Thanks, Millennium Alliance! Skava will also attend the upcoming Digital Retail and Marketing Transformation Assemblies.
What do you believe are the new priorities of retailers in the “new generation of modern commerce?”
Retailers need to be obsessed with closing customer experience gaps. Consistent experiences in-store and online, omnichannel customer support, fast loading websites and apps, products in-stock and fast and free shipping are what customers care about. These “new” priorities are of course old priorities — but many retailers still struggle to satisfy the basics.
Retailers also need to be obsessed with new customer acquisition. Customer loyalty in a world with instant access to unlimited choice and heavy competition won’t keep a retailer alive without a steady stream of new customers at all times. Continual testing and optimization of customer acquisition tactics, from SEO and paid search to co-marketing, social and influencer marketing, affiliate and content marketing is vital and must be carefully balanced against discount strategies.
I was shopping at a pharmacy in Toronto recently when I came across the discount tag depicted at below. (Take a moment to study the picture closely if you don’t see the issue). I’ll start with the most likely scenario: an antiquated system without safeguards created a $0 discount as a side-effect of a large pricing change.
The discount price tag at a pharmacy in Toronto
Not knowing the internal systems of this particular retailer, I can only guess what happened, but it seems likely that their pricing systems include fields for a regular price and a markdown price (or perhaps multiple markdowns and promotional prices, each with effective dates). The system might print bright yellow discount tags whenever there is an entry in the markdown field. It might also require the business user to select an option to do so, but in any case, this item met the criteria in their system to trigger the label to be printed. A simple safeguard would be to ensure that the markdown price is less than the regular price. It might make even more sense to have a threshold: for example, only print a discount tag if the markdown price is at least 5% less than the regular price.
Conversion – orders divided by visits – is one of the most common metrics in retail. Easy to calculate and simple to understand, it’s a measure of “efficiency,” like batting average in baseball, that tells a retailer how well their stores are, well, converting traffic into sales. And like batting average, while it is a decent indicator of one aspect of performance, it has several shortcomings. It should remain a key component of any retail dashboard, but modern retailers need to look beyond conversion to better understand and optimize their businesses.
The old standby
Conversion has been tracked by retailers since long before ecommerce rose to prominence. As a metric for traditional brick and mortar retail, it had the appeal of being easy to calculate: just count the number of people who came into the store and the number of sales made in a given time period and compute the ratio. Advanced analytics this was not. Conversion doesn’t require that you know who your visitors and purchasers are, what they bought, or why. But it does provide a good yardstick against which individual stores can compare their performance and the impact of various business decisions over time. And given its success as a key metric in brick and mortar retail, it’s not surprising that it became one of the go-to metrics in digital commerce.
With the 10-year anniversary of Satoshi Nakamoto’s famous white paper Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System approaching in November, it’s safe to say that Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain have entered popular lexicon. Most businesses tuning into the crypto airwaves are figuring out how to leverage cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. The first in a series, this post will explore how cryptocurrency and blockchain are affecting payments in ecommerce.
The easiest start: how cryptocurrency payment works within existing payment strategy
As the best-known entry point, many businesses begin leveraging blockchain by understanding how Bitcoin fits into their current business model and if it’s the right time. Businesses may merely accept payments from consumers in-store and online. Although the list of ecommerce businesses integrating into Bitcoin, Ethher or various other cryptocurrency payments is still relatively small, some brands, such as Overstock.com have been providing crypto payment options for several years.
A practical application requires businesses to consider some of the fundamental concepts when governing cryptocurrencies. It’s important to address the security requirements that wallets or exchanges impose that are different from existing business practices, such as direct deposits, wire transfers or ACH transactions.
Though ecommerce sales make up just 10% of total US retail sales, digital influences half.
To keep pace with customer expectations and close experience gaps across touchpoints, retailers are making serious investments to extend digital commerce beyond their .com storefronts into physical stores. Forty-five percent of digital retail executives are expanding, upgrading or investing in technologies to deliver digital content, offers and customer service features to their physical shops, support store associates with a digital tech and enhance the buying experience.
5 Key Focus Areas of In-store Digital Investment
Enhanced mobile Over 80% of shoppers consult their mobile phones for product information in-store. Both native apps and HTML5 mobile websites can be augmented with voice search, image recognition, QR-code scanning and NFC (near-field communication), as well as “store mode” features like wayfinding (in-store navigation) and location-based content and offers.
Universal accounts True omnichannel retail connects all customer touchpoints, including online account activity with retail POS systems and other in-store digital touchpoints. Purchase history, loyalty status, reward point balances and personalized content should be seamlessly accessed in-store and updated to a universal account in real time.
Implementing Microservices as an alternative to a heavy, monolithic architecture is an exciting IT trend that’s gaining momentum amongst Digital Commerce customers and vendors worldwide. At the Adobe Summit in March, Adobe’s Senior Product Manager Martin Buergi shared that 36% of Adobe Marketing Cloud customers surveyed have at least “several [microservices] projects live,” and 64% are getting started, or have microservices on their roadmaps. (Yes, that means no respondents had no interest in microservices!)
Microservices are also catching the attention of leading analyst firms, including Gartner. The Gartner Magic Quadrant is an annual report that thoroughly evaluates leading technology vendors within a given space. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports have earned the respect and trust of business and IT leaders for their rigorous selection process, inclusion and exclusion criteria, and evaluation based on the context of current technology trends and forecasts.
We believe the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce recognizes the market’s demand for a modern API-oriented, modular and flexible solutions from enterprise-grade digital commerce leaders.