E-Commerce is not merely just about exhibiting and merchandising products online through web but about creating a delighted shopping experience that is all-in-one across all customer touch points. It is about offering an enriched, tailored experience across several supply networks of your business and exploiting the power of your brand and its value to your customers.
This blog is focused on how IBM WebSphere Commerce provides an e-commerce platform that can deliver seamless and consistent omni-channel shopping experiences, including mobile, social and in-store and how you can use IBM WebSphere Commerce to innovate buyers experience by delivering them products and services at their convenience, with brand new features that’s not just limited to online but can also be used in-store and across all physical and digital touch points.
IBM WebSphere Commerce empowers you to create a powerful customer interaction platform across all digital touch points including mobile, social media and in-store. It’s easy to use tools create and manage precise marketing campaigns, promotions, catalog and merchandising through contextually targeted content and public promotions across multiple sales channels, allowing you to centrally manage a cross-channel strategy.
Some of its key features which could be of great benefit to its users are listed as follows;
- Helps you compete more effectively with several features
- Lets you drive customers for making purchases on each visit
- Employs paid and organic search marketing to increase customers traffic to your site
- Makes your average order size grow significantly
- Comprehensive integration from fulfillment of order to customer services
- Makes easier estimation of potential of online channel with a true e-commerce platform
- Offers wide collection of features like catalog, selling, marketing, trading and order management
- WebSphere commerce offers tailor-able and integrated package to its clients.
Built on Java EE platform using open standards such as XML and web services, WebSphere Commerce is a single and unified customer platform supporting all business models including B2B and B2C, online commerce and collaboration with existing and new customers, and partners through effective management of online trade relationships.
IBM WebSphere Commerce, when used with WebSphere Commerce Express and WebSphere Commerce Professional also provides you additional features such as work space, empowering you to customize your entire selling process that includes everything you need to develop and test an entire e-commerce website. Its integrated development environment allows developers to build and test customization to any extent including changing the appearance of your site.
The distinction between retailer and e-tailer is becoming less defined, as more consumers turn to the web for product information, recommendations and purchasing decisions. This year the line will continue to blur. Omnichannel, m-commerce, brick meets click, and lightning fast checkout are important strategies for e-commerce merchants to embrace. Today’s consumer is not only knowledgeable about which product she wants at what price; she also wants comprehensive reviews and information, inventory availability, and fast (often free and overnight) shipping.People shop online—more than ever before. Knowing how and why they do it is critical to retailers.
Lets have a look at few e-commerce trends to pay attention over the next 12 months:
=> Mobile Commerce and the Omnichannel Advantage: Effective mobile commerce isn’t happening in a vacuum. Mobile shoppers don’t use phones to the exclusion of in-store or full website research and purchasing. Consumers don’t live in one channel today. Flipping between tablet, phone, computer, and store is merely part of today’s shopping experience. Mobile commerce may have been considered an add-on in 2012, but in 2015 it’s simply the way things are done. It’s not hard to imagine a customer researching a product online, comparison shopping while in the store, and later ordering the item from their iPad.
Driven by technological changes that create opportunities to capture more of the market, payment and delivery of goods across channels will become ubiquitous in 2015. Consumers expect retailers to give them what they want, when and where they want it.
Mobile-centric strategies should continue to be top of mind with retailers going this year, with an emphasis on:
- Easy to use and secure mobile payment options
- Optimized mobile web — Small screens are big and companies who optimize the mobile web experience (faster load times, user-friendly, and customized presentation) will be better positioned to capture market share.
- Hybrid shopping — Integration between brick and mortar, online, mobile commerce and other platforms will be the norm rather than a game-changer in 2015.
=>Social Commerce and Personalized Marketing: e-commerce merchants will have to “socialize” more if they want to stand out from their competitors and protect their brands. Reviewers, raving fans, and, yes, complainers, take to the blogosphere and Twitterverse to endorse products, share favorites, make or ask for recommendations and lodge complaints. Now, more than ever, engagement is key, and the customer is always, always right!
In addition to implementing effective mobile and omnichannel strategies, smart retailers will use social networks to customize product and service offerings. As people turn to their peers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for recommendations, social selling must be part of any e-commerce company strategy in 2015. Responsive web design with functional customized views (based on social as much as data), and personalized rather than corporate content will be a brand differentiator.
=>Shipping, inventory, and same day service: Until now, brick-and-mortar stores have had a strategic advantage over online stores—immediate fulfillment. Purchase now, leave the store with your item has been the name of the game for physical shopping since layaway and delayed gratification became an artifact of bygone days. Leave it to e-commerce to convince consumers that touching, feeling, hauling goods, and rubbing elbows with the throngs isn’t necessary. Thanks to faster, cheaper, and easier shipping, consumers need not sit around pining for the courier man any longer.
Here is why:
- Shipping — It all started with free overnight delivery and returns at the click of a mouse. The window of delivery has since shrunk further, as companies move to same day and 30 minute delivery options.
- Inventory control and availability — You can’t ship nothing, so e-commerce companies have had to get tighter and more accurate when making inventory visible to today’s consumer (only one more item left in stock!)
=>Compliance in the shopping cart:Lightning fast delivery, wearable technology, and market-disrupting deals are only window dressing if the underlying infrastructure isn’t accurate and compliant. Compliance may not be attractive, but it is the only way to succeed in e-commerce these days. It can potentially make the difference between a banner year and going out of business.
Here is how:
- PCI compliance — The news is full of hacked customer financials and fraudulent purchasing. Not even the biggest brands are spared. PCI compliance originally set out to protect consumers from these kinds of breaches, but in-house auditing and assurance systems are often lacking. The costs of lost data to consumers and companies is in the billions. While this won’t scare many consumers away from online shopping, it might slow revenue growth if protocols aren’t followed and strict protections aren’t in place.
- Checkout accuracy — Customers expect to see a final price at checkout that includes accurate shipping rates and estimates, application of coupons, discounts, or incentives, and sales tax. Accuracy throughout the checkout process is critical to maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty and growing your customer base. These days, checkout accuracy isn’t just about abandoned shopping carts. Unhappy customers can take complaints viral and ignite PR firestorms.
Need of the Hour: 2015 might be a brave new world for e-commerce, but it needn’t be a runaway train. With the right tools for the job, savvy and planful e-commerce retailers will play to win. Staying on top of fast-moving trends like m-commerce, brick meets click, social web, customer loyalty and retention, and compliance are must-haves. Each strategy positions retailers to capitalize on opportunities to capture more market share before all of this becomes old hat. Traditional engagement strategies won’t work anymore. Old ideas are lucky tickets to failure. Seamless paths to shopping experiences and post shopping services offered to customers help a business retain customer relationship. Every business needs a cross-functional workforce to update their space with emerging technologies. Accept changes, welcome new technologies, live up to customers’ needs and expectations; you are going to see your business in smooth waters very soon.
By Boney Moshahary
Solveda Software India Pvt. Ltd
If you are considering getting into e-commerce business, now is the time. Why? Forrester, the global business consulting firm, has predicted that among all the markets in the Asia-Pacific region, India is set to be the fastest growing one. Figures such as those expounded by the Forrester study in question point to a combination of vast potential and impressive growth percentages. With a projected CAGR of 57 percent over the next four years, it looks like it is time to think that e-commerce is the business of the future. The most striking aspect of this optimism is that this rate is set to be sustained till at least 2016, according to the study.
Promising growth rates
The size of India’s e-commerce market in 2013 was around $13 billion, according to a joint report of KPMG and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The e-commerce business in India is expected to reach around $50-70 billion by 2020 on the back of a fast growing internet-connected population and improvement in related infrastructure like payment and delivery systems.
The Contributing factors
What factors will propel India’s projected spurt in growth in the e-retail sector? The main ones, according to Forrester, are an increase in adaption to technology, growing urbanization and subsequently, changing consumer preference for this mode of shopping.
Look for these when starting an e-commerce business
So, when you consider e-commerce business as an option, what all do you need to succeed? Since it enjoys the advantage of not needing a big physical space, sound e commerce software is the most important need. One of the most important of these is choosing the right e-commerce platform. It should coordinate and synchronize all the functions of e-commerce websites. You could also incorporate important elements such as e-commerce website design, e-commerce shopping cart and a functional e-commerce site.
By Boney Moshahary
Manager-IT Services & Solution Marketing