There are four primary roles
When you think about the various exchanges that take place through ecommerce, there are four key roles that contribute to the success and complexity inherent in ecommerce.
· Creator of the good/service – think of this as a manufacturer of a product like L.L. Bean or provider of a service like an HVAC company. The creator can also be the seller.
· Seller of the good/service – traditionally, this would be a retailer like Target, Kroger, a Home Depot, etc. Sometimes this can also be the creator of the product as more B2C and B2B organizations go direct through the digital channel.
· Buyer of the good/service – while this role is always the person who provides payment for the good or service, the person who buys may not be the actually user. In some cases the buyer then sells on the product or sells the service on behalf of a service provider.
· User of the good/service – this is the person who actually puts the product or service to use. In many cases they are also the purchaser, but sometimes they could have a procurement team that manages the buying experience and then gives over the use of the product or service to them (the end user).
Ecommerce is complex
As ecommerce has grown to be a bigger part of the retail pie, expected to be almost 18% of all retail sales in 2021, it has correspondingly grown in complexity. This has been driven by the evolution of technology available to the retailer and the consumer – both pushing ecommerce to deliver richer, more personalized digital shopping experiences. A few of the key developments that have added to this increasing complexity are:
1. Omnichannel commerce – formerly called multi-channel commerce, omnichannel commerce is the concept that the buyer no longer researches and buys products through a single channel. The buyer will typically engage with an organization, be it business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C) through multiple channels – they may now read a post on Facebook or Instagram, read an article or review of the product, visit a manufacturer’s site or a retailers site (or both), they may then visit a physical store (for physical products) to touch and hold the product while comparing prices on their phone and then complete a purchase at the manufacturer’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) website. Mobile commerce (mcommerce) is fast becoming a vital component of the omnichannel experience, already more than half of ecommerce sales are done on mobile in B2C. Throughout this journey, it is imperative that the manufacturer and any retailers involved deliver a consistent experience (same product/service images, descriptions, prices etc), a personalized experience where possible, a simple experience and ideally, an enjoyable experience that brings customers back.
2. Evolving technologies – as mentioned above, one of the key contributors to the complexity challenge is evolving technologies, and not just that they are evolving, but evolving incredibly quickly, putting strain on the technologies and people (IT and business people) that deliver ecommerce as they struggle to deliver a differentiated customer experience. Whether it’s the increasing reliance people have on their phone and the expectation that a mobile experience is as good or better than a desktop, or the incursion of the internet of things, taking commerce into car dashboards and refrigerators, it is and will continue to be a (fun) challenge to create meaningful ecommerce experiences wherever and whenever a customer desires.
3. Demanding clients/customers – while changing technology is key to the complexity within commerce, the driving force is the customer, whether B2B or B2C. They are constantly pushing for more relevant experiences that make it easy for them to find what they are looking for fast and consume it fast and that includes products and services. They expect you to know them and serve them at an individual level and maintain loyalty only as long as you make it easy to shop and buy.
Stay tuned for part 3 of the three-part blog series coming soon and elaborating on the ecommerce platform and its role in successful digital commerce deployments. If you missed part 1 or just want to read it again, you can find it here.