When Gartner recently asked chief exectuives to identify their five-year technology investment priorities. They rated their top three as the following:
- Business analytics
- Customer experience
I was a bit surprised to see e-commerce ranked second, but not at all surprised to see it show up in the top ten answers.
The New, More Empowered Consumer
We hear a lot about the importance of the customer experience and putting the customer first. The new consumer of today has a lot more power in making purchasing decisions, comparing vendors, price-comparisons, ratings and reviews, and so much more. Social media has allowed organizations to gain new insights about their customers.
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But no matter what you learn and know about your customers’ preferences and experiences throughout the sales process, it means nothing if that point of sale at the bottom of the funnel isn’t functioning properly. So this is why e-commerce – the ability to sell and complete transactions online – is ranked even higher than investments in the customer experience.
The latest report by Gartner, the The Gartner E-Commerce Vendor Guide for 2014, published this month, The report ranks our company in their list of e-commerce service providers. Gartner defines Perficient and others in the list as “offering a variety of e-commerce implementation services, including the design, development, integration, and deployment of specific processes, functions, applications or initiatives in user organizations that support transactional e-commerce applications and related functionality.” As leaders in delivering the IBM® Smarter ® Commerce solution, we do work across the complete product marketing to fulfillment spectrum, leveraging the core feature sets of Unica, WebSphere Commerce (WCS), Coremetrics, Sterling Commerce, and ILOG to answer complex, multi-store B2B and B2C e-commerce needs.
How E-commerce and the Customer Experience are Inextricably Linked:
The report also tells us that the e-commerce software market exceeded $3 billion in sales during 2012, and is growing at 13.8% compound annual growth rate. In large part, this growth is driven by the customer experience and the new empowered consumer. Users have come to expect that e-commerce sites are seamless – easy to use. They also expect a multi-channel experience that delivers.
Having completed so many e-commerce projects, we are well aware of these new demands for greater functionality and positive user experience. Gartner also elaborates on the unique offerings of e-commerce service providers like Perficient:
These services aim to optimize a company’s processes and integrate related technology applications and platforms into a consistent, stable and secure customer experience for e-commerce. Some of these companies may focus on providing specialized services, such as strategy consulting, customer experience and user experience, or integration and custom development.
At the end of the day, e-commerce is not only expected by consumers, but it drives incremental revenue, leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty (when done right), and in many cases even becomes a primary sales channel. Respondents to Gartner for this report also described e-commerce technology as enabling “transformational change to the busines.”
That’s pretty impressive. I am excited to see how e-commerce evolves in 2014.