When you get retailers together on a roundtable, the conversation is engaging and the insights are enlightening! Throw an analyst into the conversation, who by her own admittance loves to talk and 90 minutes disappears after only a few topics! HCL Commerce has been hosting a series of roundtables and fireside chats to help our clients get more from their commerce platform. With roundtables like this, we can introduce them to new ideas, share new ways to engage the consumer or customer or simply treat this as a therapy session as we face the challenges together.

I was lucky enough to host 4 amazing retailers on a roundtable discussion with Forrester’s Senior Analyst for B2C, Emily Pfeiffer. This was billed as a way to learn, to give back, to network in a private conversation. Needless to say, by the end of the call these executives were exchanging plans to meet in person where their travel schedules overlapped. Since I promised privacy, I won’t share names, but I can provide insight into the top 3 topics these retailers shared that are ‘top of mind’ today.

1. The Supply Chain and Logistics Challenge

Customers seem to be navigating the pandemic, but for retailers, the supply chain and logistics process, which heavily involves people was perhaps the top problem. The challenges of hiring have slowed down retailers and their partners, making every step of the process fraught with issues, regardless of whether the retailer was predominantly an online business or those that had physical store locations. It’s everything from securing raw materials, securing line space factory operations, container space, then once they are in the country, getting them off the boat, through customs, getting the goods on the rail system, and when they finally reach the locations, getting them unpacked and into the warehouse. Not to mention the picking and packing, through to managing fulfillment via FedEx or USPS, basically all the way through the supply and logistics process.

A knock-on effect of the supply chain issue beyond availability, is simply the range of products. Inventory levels may be down 30%, but the assortment range has taken an even greater hit with levels down 60-70%.

2. Death of the third-party cookie / taking advantage of first party data

Most people are aware of the changes in privacy that are being rolled out in many countries, which is changing how browsers like Chrome and Safari will track your movement across the internet and manage personal information. Cookies will go away after 2023, so how will retailers tailor the experience and personalize the journey by getting customers to the right place based on their interests on their store quickly and easily? Their engagement strategy is to retarget and navigate customers using first-party (1P) data, but that will only get you so far and the death of cookies means a reevaluation of how they serve their customers going forward. Without a solution, the risk is you will end up flying blind!

3. Going Global to Grow Revenue

For many retailers, the biggest growth opportunity is outside of their home country. The challenge is how to gain traction, get brand awareness and get to know your customer. Understanding local country regulations make this even more challenging. Data regulations in China, for example, are changing – they recently announced all customer data must stay in-country as of 11/1/21. Companies like Yahoo and LinkedIn have already moved out of China, citing an increasingly difficult commercial climate. These changes are making it difficult for retailers, many of whom like to host one commerce platform managing hundreds of brand or geo specific sites, while taking advantage of the cost savings from a single catalog. Clearly these types of approaches do not keep customer data in-country. The implementation of China’s new data protection law, which came into effect last Monday is just one example of the challenge of managing local regulations that are forever changing.

For retailers, current market conditions may be challenging, but as one retailer said on the roundtable “Retailers have always needed to be innovators, that’s what we are good at.” Which is very true but sometimes you need help with the ideas. That’s where the new HCL Design Studio can help – This is a free service we offer clients to help them get the most HCL Commerce and the best way to get started is to schedule a consultation.

The next HCL roundtable is scheduled for after the holiday season, on Jan 26th, please reach out if you would like to participate. You can contact me at peter.wharton@hcl.com

Click here to find out more about how HCL Commerce drives relentless innovation.

 

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