FOCUS ON RETURNS, NOT FEATURES, WHEN EVALUATING INVESTMENTS IN COMMERCE PLATFORMS

The feature war (defined as delivering as many features as possible) between Commerce Platforms is essentially over, and as a result most consumers have ended up as winners…and as losers as well.  In the race to deliver features to win sales, the bigger question of, ‘how do you empower customers to generate top-line returns on their feature investments?’ was never answered, or perhaps, never even asked. Everyone won, because we got the features, yet simultaneously almost everyone lost, because no links were drawn between features and results.  Over the feature war (defined as delivering as many features as possible) between Commerce Platforms is essentially over, and as a result most consumers have ended up as winners…and as losers as well.  In the race to deliver features to win sales, the bigger question of, ‘how do you empower customers to generate top-line returns on their feature investments?’ was never answered, or perhaps, never even asked.

Everyone won, because we got the features, yet simultaneously almost everyone lost, because no links were drawn between features and results.  Over the past few years, features and strategies such as segmentation, targeting, personalization, business intelligence, video shopping, content-drive-commerce, experience-driven-commerce, gamification, content marketing, big data, data lakes, and crowd-sourcing have been delivered via platforms, yet how many have actually translated into top-line results?

I started by saying the war is over, and I feel that way because over the past 12 months I’ve seen a dramatic shift in the questions my customers and opportunities are asking me.  They’ve transitioned from asking questions like  ‘do you have feature Y,’ to ‘how will I make money with this implementation?’, and ‘what type of skills will my team need to use this platform?’ This is a great thing.

We are closing the five year cycle that featured the re-platforming from legacy, home-grown solutions to standardized platforms from Oracle, SAP, and IBM, where features were king.  Now, as customers transition to the new cycle of re-platforming to the Cloud (where everyone has the same set of features), leadership and competitive advantages are being born from those who can use the systems the best.

Thanks to new market offerings like Oracle Commerce Cloud, enterprise-grade sites are being delivered in as little as 90 days, so the challenge for partners and technology providers is to arm customers with the knowledge on how to properly convert (technology) releases to revenue.  In a sense we’ve gone back to the basics, but the ‘basics’ are light years ahead of where we were in comparison to the previous upgrade cycle.  Today it is much easier to improve traffic quality through SEO and SEM, improve merchandising to have conversations with visitors, improve the way long tail products are priced and marketed, etc.  However, that also means that if you aren’t doing all these things today, you are at that much more of a disadvantage than you were in the past, because all these things (plus much more) are necessary in order to just ‘keep’ up with the competition.

If you run, or are a part of, an e-commerce team that doesn’t have the operational knowledge to leverage the tools at your disposal, help is much more affordable today than it has been in the past.  All the necessary features to run a successful online business exist on the most basic of cloud platforms, so the question is how to utilize them?  A new generation of solutions firms now exist, those that have taken the by-products of the billions spent by the most successful in commerce, and developed affordable solutions for the next tier.  Do some research and reach out for help – there is a good chance your competition is doing the same.

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