The Rise of Converged Commerce
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Categories: Thought Leadership

The Rise of Converged Commerce

Over the past few years the retail / brand industry has been talking about Unified Commerce. However, most smart retailers saw this strategy as a brick of Swiss cheese.  It has a lot of holes along the road to reaching the consumer. However, buying a complete package from one company could have some internal benefits. In theory, integrations between different sectors of the software should already be in place. I say “in theory” because half of the time retailers find out the products are not actually integrated together, and worse, they have long roll out schedules. The reality is that the so called “unified” solution you are buying could have a ton of holes where there should be business-critical features. This is shown throughout the Gartner Market Guide report published in July 2017. So, what makes Converged Commerce different?

What is Converged Commerce?

A more savvy commerce strategy is combining best-of-breed systems to for a complete solution

A smarter commerce strategy is to combine a number of “best-of-breed” systems to form a complete solution that “converges” on the customer. This is Converged Commerce. More and more analysts and retailers are realizing that the customer should dictate on how you sell to them. They do not want to buy from retailers that cannot adjust in real-time or cannot provide complete fulfillment services to them.

Singular Unified Commerce (SUC) solutions providers won’t agree with this option. They will argue that you do not have tight integrations between solutions from different vendors. But, if you work in technology today, you should know that this is not really a challenge. Advanced platforms can integrate to 95% of today’s retail solutions. Also, there is Middleware to further help with the integrations if needed. In other words, if you are buying into a closed solution you are putting your business in danger. Today’s connectivity technologies take away the concerns of systems that don’t integrate well.

 
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Hard-Coded Systems

The rise of Converged Commerce - Super Businessman about to take flight

As mentioned above, retail customers want real-time updates and adjustments. This means that certain platforms that I would consider 1.0 user experience solutions, are also not optimal. The days of being a developer or programmer that is certified on a few platforms are over. Technology has advanced far past this point. Advanced platforms today are configurable by any user within the business operations.  They should NOT be complex to operate or require a certified coder to adjust them.

Furthermore, hard-coded solutions need a developer for any system changes. This is a major drain on your budget. A great example is a large book retailer with which I spoke at NRF.  When “Fire and Fury” by  Michael Wolff was pre-released, many customers wanted to order it for click and collect (in-store pickup). This was not a book that anyone wanted to wait for. However, with the amount of interest the book created – the merchant needed to ensure that they had enough safety stock in their stores as well. In the end they could comply to neither of these as their hard-coded system could not change the order routing rules fast enough. And the result? Customers and sales went to the competition.

E-Commerce as the Lead?

Converged Commerce enables the retailer to put the customer first and collect data anywhere

POS or E-commerce lead solutions could also be a danger for your business. Customers shop on numerous channels today. Which means all sales channels should be treated evenly when taking in data. Converged commerce enables the retailer to put the customer first and collect data anywhere. If you are buying a solution that is POS heavy or E-commerce centric, then you will be missing out on data that will help you service the customer. These solutions also do not prep you for the future solutions (e.g.  Voice (Alexa, Google, Siri), Car, TV etc.). If a vendor created a great POS, why push it beyond the boundaries of its capabilities, to force fit it to do things for which it is simply not suited?

You might say “wait, you should have all systems talking to each other to provide that best experience for the customer”.  I completely agree but if you do not put the customer first as the “Chief Customer Officer” of your systems you are thinking backwards.  It is time to put the customer first.  After all, they dictate the health of your business.  In essence, a Converged Commerce strategy includes “best-of-breed” solutions that integrate well together and can interact in real time based all service levels the customer deserves.

 

Author:  
Adam Moncrieff - Account Executive at OrderDynamicsAdam Moncrieff has been in Retailing and Technology Solutions for 17+ years. He has worked with large and small retailers globally, with brands like Walmart, Staples, GoDaddy. Reach out to Adam directly at: Adam.Moncrieff@OrderDynamics.com

 

 

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