If there’s one thing that the rising stars of commerce have in common across the globe, it’s first-class customer experience. The second is the unequivocal way that they’re anticipating changes in their industry and leveraging technology to push their brands to the head of the pack.
These leaders understand that the way we buy and sell stuff is changing rapidly, and are preparing to compete in a world where buyers have more control. Business strategies built around this new reality emphasise digital experiences and investments in new technologies to help them compete successfully for the attention of today’s increasingly mobile, always connected and fully empowered customers.
“We all agree it’s time to drop the ‘e’ out of e-commerce, but many businesses are not fully embracing a ‘digital-first’ strategy for the entire enterprise,” says Mark Lavelle, chief executive of Magento, whose software powers more than a quarter of the world’s commercial websites.
“We see this digitisation trend affecting every industry. Winners and losers are being defined by how well a business puts the customer at the centre of its digital strategy, and then works back towards constructing a unique, brand-consistent experience regardless of channel or device.”
There are a number of elements driving the sudden acceleration in customer expectations and digital innovation. In the past decade, the building blocks underlying digital trends have been maturing rapidly and all at the same time.
High-speed broadband connectivity is now available to 3.6 billion people and millions of smartphones are operating, putting information and instant gratification just a key stroke or voice command away. The adoption of hybrid cloud technology, both public and private, which makes commerce applications and content instantly available, is now over 70 per cent.
Recently, the vast amounts of data collected by all this digital activity is being utilised to anticipate demand and enhance experiences. The explosion of social media platforms, messaging applications, applications powered by the internet of things in the home, car, supermarket and shopping centre are all directly linked to amplify the power of these technologies. The impact is now being felt in every industry where goods and services are bought or sold.
According to Mr Lavelle, this is just the beginning: “The pace of change that merchants have dealt with over the last five years will continue to accelerate. Rising consumer expectations, lower barriers to competitive disruption, greater demand from global buyers and a further fragmentation of acquisitions and distribution channels are the new norm.”
For businesses looking to be among the winners, he offers this advice: “Embrace the change and make sure your brand has meaning in the digital age. This is the hard part, as it requires you to build a digital-first culture that aligns every part of your enterprise. The good news is the rest becomes easier, because technology is no longer a barrier.”
Mr Lavelle points to many of his companies’ clients who have made this culture shift and are leveraging next-generation digital technologies that are flexible, cost efficient and effective at accomplishing what leading digital-first brands are looking to achieve.
What used to be an expensive black-box application can now be customised for your brand and run cost effectively in a fully scaled, public-cloud environment
Magento operates in over 180 countries and across more than 23 industries, including apparel, education and industrial manufacturing. Magento software handled more than £100 billion in merchandise last year and served more than 50 million shoppers. Currently, it has a 44 per cent share of the UK market; clients include Nestlé, Oliver Sweeney, Dyson and Coca-Cola.
“In a future where connections with your customers are highly influenced by a digital experience, developing the tools and core competencies to control that experience from end-to-end is crucial. You need to make sure you don’t outsource any customer touchpoints. Otherwise, you lose control. You need to own it. It becomes your intellectual property,” says Mr Lavelle. “Brands that are going to win are those that own and work with their content. Adapting to innovation with skill and flexibility is the key.
“The good news for merchants is that commerce software has evolved as rapidly as other digital technology. What used to be an expensive black-box application can now be customised for your brand and run cost effectively in a fully scaled, public-cloud environment. This flexibility and control can now be put in the hands of marketers and developers, whose collective ingenuity is the real secret to digital success.”
Indeed, Magento’s success is directly tied to thousands of partners and hundreds of thousands of developers that represent the world’s largest commerce ecosystem, one that according to International Data Corporation generates more than $3.3 billion in annual revenues.
Together with this community of partners, Magento is focused on delivering a commerce platform that provides merchants with the capabilities they need now, while setting the foundation for limitless commerce in the future. Magento’s unique approach allows customers to maintain creative control over their business, in a world where “cookie-cutter” commerce solutions are threatening to make digital commerce look the same.
Mr Lavelle concludes: “Our whole ethos is based on openness and collaboration. Magento is a living, breathing community that continues to evolve and deliver innovation that our clients can easily take advantage of. It’s all about helping you future-proof your business and keeping you ahead of future trends.”
Learn more about how Magento can power change in your business at www.magento.com