It certainly does seem like so much commerce today is happening online. From home goods to clothes to food, people are clicking and tapping to get the things they need and want.
In reality, the numbers suggest that e-commerce is still in its infancy. Despite the booming popularity of online retailers like Amazon, Jet and Walmart and the fact that nearly every brand stands up its own online store, e-commerce—or digital commerce—still makes up only around 5–10 percent of overall retail today. Analysts universally project that number to grow exponentially in the years to come, posing both significant opportunities and challenges for retailers and brands eager to capitalize. Those who embrace technology are likely to have the upper hand.
In the early days of e-commerce, disparate technology platforms and incompatible systems made it difficult for brands and retailers to integrate seamlessly. For a brand to have its products sold on a retailer’s online storefront, it might have to invest millions of dollars to acquire and implement the proprietary technology used by that particular retailer. A brand with constrained resources, therefore, might only be able to engage a small number of online retailers.
Today, advances in connected commerce technologies are removing those barriers, making it so much easier for brands to connect to retailer sites and allowing retailers to expand the catalog of products. Technology is allowing back-end systems to seamlessly connect and talk to one another, no matter the legacy systems in place, enabling brands to have their products seen in more places and allowing retailers to ultimately offer more choices to their customers.
Advances in technology have benefits for individual retailers and brands as well.
For brands, the manner in which their products are presented on a retailer’s site is critical and hugely sensitive. In the past, brands were pretty much at the mercy of the retailer who decided where to position the product, which competitive products to group it alongside, etc. If a brand wasn’t happy with how it was presented online, there was little it could really do aside from pulling its product lines altogether and risking a hit to its profits in the process.
With the ability to more easily connect with multiple retailers, brands can be more selective and have greater control over how they are presented and portrayed, moving products from one retailer to the next if they are unsatisfied or if they are simply seeing better results from a particular retail platform.
For retailers, advances in connected commerce technology mean that they can greatly expand the catalog of products available on their sites and enlist a greater number of brand partners who can quickly drop-ship products directly from the brand warehouses. Retailers can also provide more choices to their brand partners with regard to connecting to their back-end systems without having to invest significant dollars to do so.
A report from eMarketer projects that worldwide, e-commerce sales will jump from $1.91 trillion this past year to $4.05 trillion in 2020. Just about any analyst report plucked from the internet suggests the same—digital commerce will continue to grow.
Retail industry players can no longer identify themselves by the products they sell. There are no more clothing brands or home goods retailers. To effectively compete as digital commerce progresses, all need to think of themselves as technology companies. And if they don’t have the internal capabilities to embrace the digital revolution, the time is now to partner with a company that does. By leveraging and investing in the newest digital platforms, systems and technologies, brands and retailers can work more closely in partnership to deliver stronger offerings to consumers and claim a leadership stake as the connected commerce evolution progresses.
Peyman Zamani is chief executive officer at Logicbroker, a digital commerce company that connects fragmented brand and retailer platforms and strengthens the connections that enable digital commerce. The company will be hosting Connected Commerce 17, a one-day summit celebrating the future of digital commerce and exploring the opportunities to scale digital commerce operations to deliver an exceptional customer experience.