Today’s commerce platforms not only allow businesses to go online, they also offer the agility needed to reach their customers through all channels (online and offline), rapidly adapt to market change and handle complex logistic and fulfillment scenarios, for starters. But it’s the platform that caters to each company’s unique needs that sets it apart and makes it truly awesome.
Capabilities such as order orchestration, enterprise-level fulfillment, merchandising management, single product information system, web store development accelerator, optimized search, dynamic pricing, checkout tools, payment gateway integration, and customer service support are at the heart of the modern commerce platform.
Let’s take a look at what really makes a commerce platform stand out from the crowd.
While a good commerce platform allows order taking at every touchpoint, such as in-store, web, customer service center or apps, the awesome platform unifies all channels to give the business the flexibility to orchestrate complex order scenarios, and to offer a single view of customer interactions and history across all touchpoints.
Today, the business requires flexibility to leverage their fulfillment centers (let it be stores or warehouses) for online and in-store orders, as well as the ability to access the inventory of those fulfillment centers from every channel. With this information available at all times, you can expect the commerce platform to adjust order routing and fulfillment logic based on many factors such as location, capacity and time.
As the business wants more and more autonomy in the execution of this strategy, an awesome platform not only provides developers with hooks to customize business logic, but also provides a rich set of tools through a user interface (UI) so that the business can change fulfillment logic and enrich the business model by themselves.
The order orchestration engine should also provide interfaces to capture orders, manage fulfillment centers, view customer profiles and history, while supporting edge-case scenarios such as back-orders, pre-orders, multiple shipments / multiple locations and split payments. All the information must be made available to any representative who serves the customer at any touchpoint, and the platform must provide rich algorithms and workflows to support updating and canceling current orders at different points in time.
The excellent platform does not only serve as a hub for order taking, but truly becomes the centralized data source for all orders and customer information across the organization. And it provides flexible business flows and reporting.
Checkout and Integration
An excellent commerce platform offers a rich toolset to allow the creation of an outstanding checkout experience, including dynamic pricing, inventory, taxes, shipping and extra fees. While the platform may come with its own tools, surely the business will require more specialized needs, for example international taxes and shipping fees computation. For those scenarios, the platform must be flexible enough to integrate with third-party tools such as tax providers, payment gateways or shipping services, and offer dynamic options for the customer during checkout.
The integration should not be limited to the checkout process, but to every aspect of the customer lifecycle. At some point, the business will need reporting and statistics on the orders and the behaviours of customers. The platform should provide rich reports about every aspect of the business and applications, such as user paths and flows, orders, returns, back-orders, customers, retention, fidelity, demographics, referrals, effectiveness of marketing campaigns, etc. Integration with accounting software should also be straightforward to allow the business to manage the invoices, revenues and payments.
Product Information Management and Web Store Development
The product and services offered are differentiation factors at the heart of an organization, and should be treated with much care.
While a good commerce platform includes a basic way to manage SKUs and integrate with the offline offering, an awesome platform will provide centralized capabilities to enrich product information adapted to today’s web, apps and mobile reality, allowing the business to manage all its product details in a single application.
The ability to enrich the basic product attributes with custom attributes proper to the business, update product relationships (such as upsells and cross-sells), manage rich product images, manage multilingual descriptions, manage links to product categories and merchandising, are vital in today’s ecosystems. We should not have to go through more than one application to update all those attributes.
Nowadays, it’s typical to be redesigning an online store every two to three years. The awesome commerce platform comes with a framework and professional templates that allow developers to accelerate the development of online shops and apps, as well as allow organizations to rapidly deploy new versions of it.
Flexibility and Agility
While a good commerce platform allows orders, customers, products and inventory management in its own online/offline silos, an awesome commerce platform provides a unified software that brings all channels together and facilitates the flow of information through the platform, the enterprise back-office systems, the traditional and the digital touchpoints.
By unifying the systems and processes, they allow the company to focus more on the real business issues and to speed up their response time to market changes. All that by offering numerous integration points that give more flexibility to integrate the platform to other enterprise solutions.