Select the Right Digital Commerce Platform

March 14, 2018
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

How marketing leaders can maximize the return on platform investments by using foundational, advanced and innovative requirements.

Digital commerce platforms are mission-critical for marketing leaders with digital commerce responsibilities. For these same leaders — who are often on the hook for the ROI of the platform investment — selecting the right digital commerce platform is also a career-critical technology decision that is too often abdicated to IT colleagues or inadequately defined.

“26% of marketing teams have sole responsibility for digital commerce programs, and 60% share digital commerce responsibility.”

“Marketing leaders with digital commerce responsibility should actively manage or influence the process of choosing a digital commerce platform,” says Jennifer Polk, VP Analyst, Gartner for Marketers.

According to the Gartner CMO Strategy Survey 2017, 26% of marketing teams have sole responsibility for digital commerce programs, and 60% share digital commerce responsibility with another function. Marketing often leads the design and development of the customer-facing digital commerce experience and plays a critical role in three key areas:

  1. Codifying the marketing requirements used to evaluate digital commerce platforms
  2. Clarifying marketing technology integration with digital commerce platforms
  3. Being a leading stakeholder in the overall platform selection process

When codifying marketing requirements, three types of requirements should be viewed through the lenses of customer expectations and digital commerce maturity.

Foundational requirements

Basic, must-have requirements span the product catalog, content management, mobile interfaces and integration with digital marketing platforms. Foundational requirements include a partial or full product catalog that is sortable and searchable, category and product detail pages that support text, multiple images and product pricing, support for a responsive or adaptable mobile interface, support for offer or promotion management, and digital advertising capabilities.

Read More: The Four Traits of the Digital Commerce Marketer

Personalized. People-based. Predictive.

The future of marketing is data and analytics. Are you ready?

Advanced requirements

More advanced requirements encompass rich content support, advanced management capabilities, subscriptions and marketplace integrations. Customer authentication and product detail pages that support rich content such as video, ratings, reviews and social sharing as well as native integration to leading global marketplaces (e.g., Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Alibaba) are also advanced requirements. But they may be fulfilled natively or through third-party integrations. It’s critical to determine how that affects complexity and overall cost of deployment.  

Innovative requirements

Innovative requirements are cutting-edge and include support for chatbots, virtual personal assistants, 3D content, visual configuration, shoppable content, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) and native personalization capabilities using artificial intelligence (AI).

Read More: Build an Innovation Pipeline That Fuels Growth

Look to competitor sites and experiences for benchmarks of industry standards and foundational features that are “must-haves” for your competitive peer group. Your customers’ expectations are shaped by experiences with other industries, which can lead you to look for more advanced features.  

“Don’t overspend on advanced or innovative marketing features.”

Anchor marketing requirements in your organization’s multichannel marketing maturity. Don’t overspend on advanced or innovative marketing features unless your team has the budget, resources and skills to use them in the next 18 to 24 months or you plan to tap into external talent or agencies to enhance the experience and improve results.

“Otherwise, you risk overpaying for unused capabilities and failing to show adequate return on platform investment,” says Polk.

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