Digital commerce and ‘the Goldilocks effect’

This is the single greatest barrier to digital commerce success for businesses and retailers alike. Take Black Friday as an example – there are so many moving components involved in launching a promotion on the biggest shopping day of the calendar year.

All of these have to be stacked up like dominoes, ready to set off a chain reaction. All it takes is for one of those dominoes to fall the wrong way to throw your online (and offline) stores into disarray. So you may be selling your products across multiple sales channels (online, offline, social media, marketplaces, etc.) but if those sales channels aren’t connected, there’s simply no way that your business is optimised to maximise sales.

Decisions, decisions…

There’s no doubt about it – digital commerce is tricky business. There are so many solution providers on the market, and competition is fierce – understandable considering the fact that online sales are due to hit $4.5 trillion a year by 2021, according to Statista. And because digital commerce is notoriously complex, what often happens is that retailers often either underestimate or overestimate their predicted return on investment when choosing a platform to power their online store. 

Then, over time, what transpires is that the enterprise-level solution that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to implement, is only bringing in tens of thousands of pounds of revenue.

On the flip side, plenty of retailers initially choose a digital commerce platform based on the cheapest option available, but as their business starts to scale, they discover that limited functionality makes it increasingly difficult to attract, convert, and retail customers. 

So, in order to keep up with the industry (not to mention growing customer demand) they constantly have to bolster on additional features, all of which come with a hefty price tag.

So how can businesses spot the red flags signalling that their digital commerce solution just isn’t working… 

ROI isn’t what you expected

With so many solution providers on the market, what often happens is that retailers either underestimate or overestimate their predicted return on investment when choosing an ecommerce platform. Cut to a couple of months, or even years later and you’ll find that businesses have pumped hundreds of thousands of pounds into implementing an enterprise level solution that is only bringing in tens of thousands of pounds worth of sales. 

Or, on the flip side, lots of retailers who are just taking their first steps into the online world choose an ecommerce platform based on whatever the cheapest option available to them was at the time. Then, as their online business scales, they discover that limited functionality within their chosen platform makes it increasingly difficult to attract, convert, and retain customers. 

So in order to keep up, they constantly have to bolster on additional features, which all come at an extra price. Therefore, it’s imperative that your ecommerce platform yields a solid ROI over time. If that isn’t happening with your current solution – something just isn’t right.

You’re spending more time than necessary doing manual work

If you need to log into several different pieces of software to manage a simple sale on your online store, you may be spending far more time than is necessary on your digital commerce platform. Similarly, if you have to manually upload a substantial product catalogue to your online store, chances are you’re not working as productively as you could be.

When you have to license several different technologies to manage all of the moving parts of your online store (e.g. warehouse management, marketplaces, content management, order management) you not only open yourself up to more errors, but it also makes it very difficult to get a full 360° view of the analytics that tell the full story about how your online store is performing. Your digital commerce platform should ultimately be making life easier – efficiency is key.

 You can’t keep up with customer demand

Do you tend to shy away from running promotions on your online store, because every time you’ve done it in the past, your website can’t handle the traffic? Unfortunately, if this is the case, you’re doing your online business a HUGE disservice. Up to 50% of online shoppers only make a purchase when an offer or promotion is involved. 

So if your online store can’t keep up during the busiest shopping periods of the year, you’re missing a massive opportunity to maximise sales. You need to ensure that you can deliver a consistent user experience, whether there are 5 or 500,000 on your online store at any given time! That means having a robust digital commerce solution that can handle spikes in both traffic and sales. 

Because from a customer’s perspective, the only thing worse than not being able to get on an online store during a promotion is having that site crash as you’re in the process of trying to buy something. Having to go down the rabbit hole of ‘Did my purchase go through or not’, checking your emails for a confirmation that may or may not appear, checking your bank account to see if your credit card has been charged – it doesn’t bode well for repeat customers really, does it?

 Breaking into new markets seems too complicated

So you want to expand your products into a new market? Great! But where do you even begin, taking into consideration new languages, currencies, and tax rates?

Limitations within certain digital commerce platforms can often mean retailers need to set up multiple storefronts and manually input their product catalogue for every individual language and/or currency they want to sell in. They also have to make sure they’re all zipped up as far as tax rates go, and that’s before we’ve even scratched the surface on the logistics and fulfilment side of things.

However, opening up your products to new markets really shouldn’t have to be so complicated – if your digital commerce platform supports multiple languages, currencies and VAT rates, it means having one dynamic online store, rather than a dozen static ones.

So if going global is on the agenda, but you are struggling to take the necessary actions to trade internationally because it all seems like too much of a hassle, something’s just not right.

Michelle McSweeney, content marketing manager at Kooomo, a digital commerce platform which works with clients to maximise all digital sales channels

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