27 June 2012

Commerce with many names


The IT industry and the industry analysts have a habit of talking acronyms like WCM, ERP, CRM and ECM - creating long, complex and confusing concepts and product names. I think this is hurting the industry - to talk mumbo-jumbo about what we do, instead of sending a clear and understandable message about the business value that IT-solutions bring.

We also have to live with all kinds of new and perplexing concepts: Agile commerce, F-commerce, M-Commerce, e-Commerce, Multi-channel, Cross-channel, Omni-channel and Channel-less are just a few for doing business in the modern marketplace. Concepts that are meant to highlight subtle changes to already existing concepts, but baffling as to what software vendors and analysts actually mean when they talk about “commerce” and “channel/touchpoint”.

My primary focus is to find fundamental facts about where the market is heading. My secondary focus, unfortunately, is to keep track of all the new names, concepts and acronyms. I read a lot of analyst reports as a part of my role as inRiver’s product strategist. Recently I read a report from RSR called “Omni-Channel 2012: Cross-Channel Comes of Age, 2012 Benchmark Report”. It contained some interesting facts that I wanted to share with you.

For the first time in six RSR studies, retailers report that they operate more online/e-Commerce channels than they do traditional stores (92% vs. 89%). That says a lot about how the market has changed in just a few years’ time. Another interesting fact is that while 100% of the responding retailers believe that the customer shopping experience should be consolidated and consistent across all channels, only 32% have actually achieved this goal. There is still a lot of work left to be done in this area.

The RSR report also confirms the fact that customers interacting across channels are significantly more profitable - but for the first time RSR saw a decline. I think this is because the market is maturing.  I also believe that RSR draws the right conclusion when they say that cross-channel shoppers are rapidly becoming just "shoppers".

The winning business concept may have many names, but the winners are creating a single view of the customer and are leveraging their product content across channels. If you don’t have a single view of your customers and can use and control your product content across channels, then it’s time to get started.

The whole report can be downloaded here for free (registration required).