Even in enterprise commerce — it’s still all about the customer
Enterprise commerce has an end-game objective that’s common to both the largest and smallest of businesses looking for online solutions: Satisfied customers. To get there and see positive reviews and repeat customers, a user’s experience must be seamless, effortless, and above all, trouble-free. Just like traditional analog-era, face-to-face transactions, digital solutions must address quality customer service.
E-commerce businesses have to make a positive first impression because customers have more choices than ever these days. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Customers should be able to browse, shop, and purchase products without complications. Application programming interfaces (APIs), whether developed internally or through third parties, must be designed, tested, and versatile enough to meet frequent customers’ needs.
We know why enterprise commerce is important to companies and customers. But before we go too far, what exactly is the definition of enterprise commerce?
What is enterprise commerce?
In a broad sense, enterprise commerce businesses offer multiple products or services, likely with a global presence, and typically with annual multi-million-dollar revenues. They can be manufacturers or distributors with multiple locations. They build their infrastructures from a pool of financial and technical sources, deploy general management teams, and market scalable services toward customers individually or on a B2B scale.
Because customers are the currency of enterprise commerce, successful companies should develop platforms that work toward multiple customer transactions and engagement. Acquiring, managing, and cultivating a customer base is crucial to an enterprise commerce’s competitive strategy. Enterprise commerce businesses must have a 360-degree view of their customers. Metrics such as traffic, conversion rate, and average order value determine a company’s efficiency in serving customers.
In this article, we’ll examine what enterprise commerce looks like today, what organizations should expect from an enterprise-commerce solution, and how the best solutions streamline the backend processes required for personalized commerce journeys that drive transactions, loyalty, and advocacy.
What enterprise commerce solutions look like today
Enterprise software, also known as Enterprise Application Software (EAS), is developed to satisfy the needs of a diverse, large organization rather than individual users. Enterprise software manages front-end sales and back-end operations while integrating with core business tools. The software can improve organizational productivity and efficiency by providing business logic support. It can be either self-hosted or on-premise.
The types of organizations that use enterprise commerce systems include businesses, schools, governments, charities, clubs, interest-based groups, and more. Enterprise commerce software can be cloud-hosted or installed and characterized by its performance, scalability, and robustness. EAS usually interfaces with other enterprise software, such as the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) to directory services or name services.
EAS can bring departments under a centralized point and enable a reliable communication platform. This includes integration with other company systems, including accounting, inventory, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. And did we mention it should all be scalable?
Certain industry-standard product categories fit enterprise software categories. They include:
- Business Intelligence (BI)
- Business Process Management (BPM)
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- DataBase Management System (DBMS)
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)
- Human Resource Management (HRM)
- Intrusion Detection Prevention (IDS)
- Knowledge Management (KM)
- Low-code Development Platforms (LCDP)
- Product Data Management (PDM)
- Product Information Management (PIM)
- Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
- Security Information Event Management (SIEM)
- Supply Chain Management (SCM)
- Software Configuration Management (SCM)
- Software Defined Networking (SDN)
Security is critical when it comes to enterprise software. Businesses can’t afford to have customer data breaches, periods of site downtime, or disjointed user experiences. Customers willfully submit critical personal information. Custom Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificates, single sign-on, and Google Trusted Store tags should be part of each transaction.
In addition, organizations require robust security to protect on-premise and cloud-based infrastructure. They must also vet third-party providers. This includes securing the rapidly expanding number of endpoints connecting to networks via Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart phones and personal assistants.
And, on the subject of security: Where does enterprise commerce stand on blockchain technology? A decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public digital ledger linked using cryptography and resistant to modification of data, blockchain offers reliable identity management, providing digital IDs for verification, and reduces the risk of identity theft and other cybersecurity concerns. But it hasn’t been widely adopted due to its permission-less nature, and the fact that it doesn’t meet the overall needs of corporations. Nevertheless, blockchain researchers continue to work on incorporating the technology into enterprise commerce where appropriate.
What you should look for in an enterprise commerce solution
Modern supermarkets and mall food courts attract customers because they can provide a one-stop shopping or dining experience. In some supermarkets, people can buy jewelry a few aisles from the butcher counter. In food courts, you can get a burger and fries while others in your party get Chinese food from the next vendor.
The same opportunities of choice can be said of enterprise commerce. Nothing is more convenient than aggregating services into one management platform. Competitive commerce platforms can provide inventory, catalog, order, and customer management while including pricing and contextual promotion engines. These features also must integrate across devices and channels.
By managing customer data in the same place as their content, enterprise commerce organizations can streamline the process of developing and delivering customer experiences that drive transactions, loyalty, and even advocacy.
Keeping pace with e-commerce technology also can be expensive, disruptive, and require constant updates for enterprise organizations.
Is it best to build your own solution using multiple specialist suppliers, or go with a streamlined suite of applications from a single supplier?
Obviously, it depends on specific needs. A complete ecommerce platform is loaded with sophisticated tools and features and takes a future-proof approach in development. Sitecore Experience Commerce™ (XC), Sitecore's ecommerce solution, delivers personalized experiences for clients, including brand-building using built-in marketing and promotions capabilities and comprehensive content-management solutions that offer customer and client support.
Besides a full range of tools to manage digital commerce storefronts, Sitecore XC also offers open architecture, meaning flexible integration with other applications.
The best platforms offer features such as mobile-responsive designs, customized checkout, app catalogs, multi-channel selling options across social-media channels, data-reporting tools, and API options.
The options are there, so it's a matter of enterprise commerce organizations deciding what's best for their customers.
Enterprise commerce must evolve with its customers. That much hasn’t changed from the days of manual cash registers ringing up cold-hard currency in small-town general stores. Today, in a global economy, it’s a matter of embracing digital solutions that customize the experience, eliminate the guesswork, and create efficient and safe transactions on multiple devices, including mobile. Whether they’re businesses, schools, governments, or interest-based groups, enterprise commerce organizations must provide an unencumbered process for customers to interact and buy products without complications. Their existence depends on it.