The COVID-19 pandemic has made e-commerce a necessity for B2B, B2C and D2C businesses. An analyst study found that 75% of people using digital channels for the first time will continue to use them when things return to “normal.” And it is the nature of e-commerce platforms that will determine how successful an organization is in the immediate future.
Digital commerce is a sophisticated practice with long-term financial impact on capex and opex – this makes it necessary for digital commerce managers to upskill and be ready to lead their organizations into the future.
Today, digital commerce brings a set of exciting technologies into play. The key areas that need attention include real-time data management, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), which have become central to interpreting supply and demand signals. Studies show that by 2023, most organizations using AI for digital commerce will achieve at least a 25% improvement in customer satisfaction, revenue or cost reduction. This makes the criteria for choosing a suitable e-commerce platform extremely important. For most organizations, the safe path is to partner an IT provider with the required domain experience to evaluate platforms, match them to the digital maturity of the organization and complete the implementation.
Assess digital maturity and select platform based on business needs, features & capabilities
At ITC Infotech, we measure digital maturity through organizational priorities, implementation of customer-facing initiatives and the intention of management to adopt digital practices over time.
Next comes the task of defining platform features and customization capabilities to meet unique business needs, from payments to SKU management and from workflow to processing refunds. Let’s examine the top 10 criteria for assessing a platform:
1. Functionality: The uniqueness of the e-commerce store, its target market, nature of the product catalog, geo and the need for international sales along with currency, language, tax requirements, expected traffic, etc., determines functionality.
2. Hosting: E-commerce platform hosting comes in various flavors, from pure SaaS to fully managed cloud hosted. This is an important component of infrastructure that ensures availability, cost and provides the desired level of scalability and security. SaaS is the best option for stores that need limited features and where upfront cost savings are a major requirement.
3. Licensing/Cost: The licensing and set up costs of an e-commerce store include platform licenses, software/subscriptions, cloud servers, IT staff, designers, marketing and promotions and taxes. These costs can quickly add up and impact ROI. Therefore, meticulous planning needs to be put behind these aspects.
4. Customizations: Customization of page templates should be easy, using standardized plug ins to save costs and time, and should be aimed at increasing traffic to the store.
5. Integrations: The e-commerce store should seamlessly integrate with ERP, Order Management Systems, CRM, Payment Gateways, Logistics Management, Product Information Management, etc.
6. Internationalization: For global operations, stores should support multi-lingual and multi-currency capabilities, multi-payment gateway configurations, custom tax rules, and custom shipping integrations.
7. Mobile Commerce: With the growth in smart phones, mobile commerce has become extremely popular. Businesses must therefore focus on providing mobile commerce support for iOS and Android platforms.
8. AR/VR and ML: According to reports, as many as 78.65% shoppers abandon their carts before completing a purchase. Emerging technologies like AR and VR increase customer engagement and improve conversion rates. Businesses would want to use AR/VR for improving awareness, saving costs, allowing customers to simulate real life scenarios (such as trying on eye wear or a jacket or seeing how furniture looks in the living room) and reaching better decisions. Similarly, Machine Learning (ML) and analytics should be used for Customer Segmentation, Personalization, and Targeted Campaigns to convert prospects into buyers, to optimize pricing, prevent fraud, and improve product recommendations.
9. Security: E-commerce stores should use the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI/DSS) to collect and store credit card information. The PCI/DSS is an industry standard and is designed to keep customer information secure and the business protected from reputational damage resulting from compromised card data. In addition, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) should stay protected in order to meet privacy regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR).
10. BI Analytics/Reporting: The capabilities of analytics and reporting tools plays an important role in analyzing e-commerce trends such as popular products, most searched products, etc., and creating insights into customer behavior.
ITC Infotech’s unique capabilities for digital commerce solutions
ITC Infotech’s Digital Commerce practice has the expertise to implement innovative, intuitive and collaborative digital commerce solutions while staying focused on the top 10 criteria for platform selection across retail, travel and hospitality, healthcare, consumer goods, and fashion. Our design thinking capabilities around e-commerce solutions have set new benchmarks. Clients who have used our expertise have also managed to take advantage of support and continuous development options – both being critical to ongoing e-commerce success.
To know more, check out the whitepaper on ‘Choosing the right digital commerce ecosystem’.
Nazeer Akbar Hussain,
Solution Architect, Customer Experience