Consumer demands continue to drive technology innovation while ecommerce managers and Internet professionals try to keep pace with their evolving behavior and growing number of touch points.
Whether accessed through a tablet, a mobile application or a computer, the website must ultimately deliver a unified experience and maintain a consistent look and feel of the brand. Combining this challenge with the need to anticipate the "next big thing" in technology to enhance the cross-channel shopping experience, and keeping your digital backbone in optimum shape, might seem downright daunting.
So, how can retailers deliver a digital experience that attracts and retains consumers?
Simply stated, consider a scalable and flexible cloud-based commerce platform that enables innovation. If your commerce site is frozen in time, bound to on-premise infrastructure that limits growth and necessitates the involvement of outside IT teams for major overhauls, you cannot continually enhance brand interactions. The accelerated pace of consumer control, access and knowledge requires that retailers ready themselves for frequent change.
This cannot be done easily or quickly on an on-premise platform.
Having a digital commerce management (DCM) strategy in place can help retailers better manage all digital interactions with consumers across devices, applications and channels. There are several important facets to DCM, but success is predicated on a cloud delivery model.
Here is why is a commerce cloud is essential?
Innovation is seamless: Commerce in the cloud enables brands and retailers to continuously develop new and innovative digital experiences. New enhancements are frequently and quietly introduced to the commerce environment. Unlike on-premise software, capabilities are automatically delivered without a potential laborious and costly upgrade cycle.
Site is open: Openness is key to a successful digital strategy. The commerce cloud enables organizations to invite partners and developers to complement core functionality. Because of the common code base, integration and developer customization is not point-in-time that must be maintained over time.
Merchandising control: Cloud platforms also encourage user empowerment that allow experts to drive all aspects of the user experience - from cross-channel merchandising, to unique innovation and quick reaction to market opportunities. Merchants and marketers have complete control of the consumer shopping experience.
So, while competitors' requests are waiting in a queue or hampered by an older version of software, the commerce cloud delivers capabilities to drive brand loyalty and advocacy.
Enjoy the "Ah Ha" moment: Every retailer dreams of that magic moment when their business changes forever and consumers bust down their virtual doors, but most cringe when they contemplate how their infrastructure will react to a deluge of traffic. Those occurrences can be overwhelmingly exciting and incredibly stressful at the same time, but cloud platforms should provide peace of mind.
A scalable, secure, and stable foundation ensures an efficient response to heightened traffic and effective allocation of additional capacity when required. An on-premise or merely hosted commerce product might need weeks - and costly hardware - to manage this possible surge in traffic. The commerce cloud is already built and ready to plug into.
Retailers often find themselves in reactive modes, working furiously to respond to new customer demands. Commerce that leverages proven cloud environments allows retailers to streamline operations providing more time for merchandising, innovation and the creation of new brand experiences.
This model offers more control of the customer experience and enables faster response to new consumer trends like multichannel, mobile and social commerce. In this digital world in which we live, why invest in anything other than a digital backbone in the cloud?
About the Author: As vice president of product and solutions marketing for Demandware, Rob Garf taps into his more than 20 years of retail industry experience. Prior to Demandware, Garf served as the global retail strategy leader of IBM Global Business Services and was vice president of Retail Strategies Service at AMR Research, where he led coverage of customer intelligence and multichannel operations.