What is the role of platforms?

A good e-commerce solution should not be content to control this single channel. It should provide an overview of the two major developments that digital commerce has experienced recently.

The world of online sales is constantly changing. This is even more true today as it suffers from the consequences – economic and societal – of multiple crises.

Over the past two years, e-commerce has been essential to continued growth. Digital is now playing the role of a key focal point towards blended, multi-channel or unified shopping experiences. Thus, e-commerce and digital strategies in general are no longer considered another sales strategy, but should serve the overall strategy of the company.

The concept of e-commerce is limited. Analysts such as Accenture, BCG, Gartner, and major global media outlets are now talking about digital commerce to go beyond “e-commerce,” once an isolated channel, and today it is a strategic sales driver.

Unfortunately, the e-commerce platforms that brands rely on are often tailored to meet tactical (not strategic) needs. This makes it difficult for them to adapt to changes in the market, and prevents brands from adopting a global approach to sales.

A good e-commerce solution should not be content to control this single channel. It should provide an overview of the two major developments that digital commerce has experienced recently.

The evolution of the e-commerce field of influence

The e-commerce business is no longer just about the internal e-commerce/IT duo. The departments involved are more numerous and the projects are much more complex. The entire company is now involved internally (Supply Chain, All Sales Force, Comex) because all sales processes (B2C, B2B, etc) must be digitized to serve a common goal of growth. This increases the need for a platform where everything is “outside the box” and thinks about a global strategy.

It is about going beyond monolithic models and assembling technological bricks at the right rhythm, according to the specific needs of the craft and the general goals of the company.

While Comex will decide to distribute directly at BtoB, marketing will want to launch direct shopping and field teams will be ready to manage virtual shelves. This is just one example of the many changes internal teams are envisioning every day. But it is rarely implemented.

As for the external ecosystem, today it requires an openness to the outside to engage suppliers, distributors (internal stores, a network of franchisors, partner distributors, exclusive or non-exclusive sellers in the marketplace) and of course customers. For the same type of activity, the ecosystem will be very different depending on the sector, business model (BtoB, BtoE, BtoC, etc.), sales model (online, offline, mixed) and sales format (licensing, white label, franchising, cooperatives, franchises. ..)

The platform that drives digital commerce must be highly connected and flexible in taking on new functionality according to the needs of the business model.

Finally, remember that these internal and external problems vary and even become more complex depending on the nature of the company, which may own many brands, many sales models, and operate nationally or internationally.

Evolution of the timestamp of e-commerce

With digital commerce now at the heart of the company’s overall strategy, it is no longer just about a complementary axis of online sales, it’s about all of the company’s growth axes, including upcoming ones. Hence the importance of managing digital commerce via a platform that is able to respond to any strategic direction, whether expected or not.

For this platform to be sustainable, it must be scalable and responsive. Digitization has now had such an impact on the business model that it must be able to evolve over the long term, without starting from scratch or imposing endless technological layers on it. Its base should evolve with the business by supporting full or partial “re-platform” because technology should serve the company’s growth strategy, not constrain it.

Until then, current practices consisted of combining and linking solutions (OMS, CMS, etc.) to get the best out of each business. This structure is now largely obsolete. It is not ready to respond to the strategic axes that must be decided and implemented quickly in the face of external risks. These disruptions sometimes severely affect the supply chain (the conflict in Ukraine) or consumption patterns (COVID-19).

Nor does it adapt to changing uses (live shopping, chatting, metaverse, etc.), nor to the requirements that are now part of consumers’ daily life. Allow differentiated delivery of many items during the same order (home, store, relay point), view available stocks in real time, allow online ordering from the store, etc.

It is difficult for these multi-channel mechanisms to be pivotal when they are the result of technological entanglement, not to mention the cost and maintenance of successive redistributions. Redesigning the online sales system solely to meet a new, isolated need no longer makes sense today. This is the best way to always fall behind in the market and above all to see your costs explode.

Digital commerce is essential because it is a strategy. It should be placed at the heart of the company’s vision for long-term growth. All internal teams and external partners must unite around these challenges in order for the company’s digital ecosystem to be sustainable and profitable.

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