Barriers to the perfect commerce experience: What's standing in your way?

The commerce world has been evolving rapidly, giving way to new business models and strategies. This is evident in the recent rise of the B2B2C model when it comes to eCommerce marketing. Companies are fast looking to embrace B2B2C models to ensure a complete product or service transaction. However, the journey to that destination may not be the easiest. Speaking to Marketing, Jonathan Holcombe, head of strategy and delivery of IT company Switch, says that often, the operational impact of online revenue generation on payment, pricing and logistics is underestimated by many organisations.
 

As a Sitecore digital strategist at Switch, Holcombe (pictured) helps customers to overcome complicated business challenges, develop creative solutions and identify digital strategies that affect real change through the Sitecore platform. Prior to joining Switch, Holcombe was the strategy consultant and head of Mando London, a marketing agency based in UK. In this article, he sheds light on the new playing space of B2B2C space, and what companies can expect heading into it. 

Catch Holcombe and top-notch commerce experts from across the region at “Modern Commerce in Asia Pacific”, a FREE two-day virtual summit by Sitecore on 26-27 May for commerce, marketing and IT leaders, as they discuss commerce and marketing success strategies for 2020 and beyond. Click here for details. Sitecore's virtual summit is done in partnership with Marketing.
 

Marketing: What are some of the trends you are seeing in the B2B2C space? 

Holcombe: A lot of the customers we work with have had their business models fundamentally challenged. For longevity they have had to explore more of the B2B2C model rather than a traditionally silo-ed model. That has manifested in some of our clients:

  • Wanting to partner with other organisations and utilise technology as a key enabler for those initiatives.
  • Wanting to break down internal silos between their B2B and B2C teams, consolidating their customer journeys and seeing the experiences they provide as an evolution rather than two distinct and divided audiences. 
  • Being challenged by their customers to provide commerce driven experiences (typically traditional, account led organisations). 

This has made it increasingly important for these organisations to be able to deliver digital services quickly in niche markets where that business has a unique offering or competitive advantage. As a result we have seen an increased interest in headless technologies as customers seek to serve multiple customer experiences through the same underlying line of business systems.  

We have also seen increased adoption and importance of personalisation to provide customer experiences that, although are similar at the core, are targeted to specific audiences throughout. 

Marketing: What is the biggest challenge in getting online revenues for successful well-known brands? 

Holcombe: The operational impact of online revenue generation on payment, pricing and logistics is often underestimated by many organisations.All areas that, for well established large organisations, will require significant change.

A lack of engagement with the wider business, to ensure that they are able to support the experience, will often halt a digital programme in its track.

Another significant challenge we see is customers who need to develop new operating models to support their digital offering and not knowing where to start. This will require specialised expertise across acquisition, conversion optimisation and content.Often the culture these individuals are familiar with may jar with the organisation as they go through the change process.  

Marketing: Why is creating the right user experience still such a challenge for brands – is it due to lack of talent or understanding of experience? 

Holcombe: From our experience, a lack of talent and understanding of experience definitely plays its part but primarily at more senior levels within the business. A lot of organisations lack oversight and ownership of organisation wide customer experience which results in disparate and disconnected experiences. 

This also perpetuates a common issue we see around internally focused employees and business unit silos. Without overarching oversight and understanding of the customer journey, each business unit is often left to their own devices when crafting online experiences.This results in competing experiences, siloed data and an inability to cross sell or up sell. 

Furthermore, digital teams are often under-resourced from a user experience and content perspective resulting in highly transactional experiences without the content and nurturing required to craft a great customer experience. 

Finally, there is also a trade-off between speed to market and the quality of the solution.

Traditionally feature hungry boards would prioritise features over overarching customer experience. We have started to see a shift in this area with boards being more patient and willing to wait for the right solution. 

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