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Choosing a commerce platform

Six key capabilities for a modern commerce platform

It isn’t enough to simply feature products online. You need cross-channel capabilities like remembering your customers, sharing relevant content, and understanding each customer’s preferences.

Table of contents

Table of contents

Quick insight

Disconnected marketing and commerce systems make it difficult for marketers to see purchase information and ensure they are promoting the right products to the right people.

Chapter 1

Six commerce platform features for a competitive advantage

It’s a competitive commerce world out there. Thriving in it depends on your ability to deliver transformative customer experiences. By integrating commerce with content across devices and channels, marketers can implement tactics that extend well beyond traditional means and provide fully personalized customer experiences. These six key capabilities are just some of the competitive advantages a robust commerce platform delivers.

1. Inventory management

It’s hard to control what you can’t see. A good commerce platform gives you the ability to organize and manage all of your online and offline inventory, including controlling the availability and quantity of sellable items by channel, transferring inventory between stores, and tracking shipments. It will also notify you when you’re low on stock or have expired inventory, and allow you to display product prices in multiple currencies.

2. Catalog management

The digital marketplace moves at lightning speed. The right commerce platform ensures your product catalogs can keep pace.

For example, it will give you the ability to easily organize your sellable items and then add them to multiple catalogs, categories, and inventory sets — and apply different promotions.

It will also facilitate defining product variations, such as one shirt that’s available in multiple prints and colors, and creating catalogs that display on your website in different languages and currencies.

Finally, it will enable you to easily categorize and establish category hierarchies and relationships between products. For example, shoes can be divided into women’s, men’s, and children’s, as well as into boots and sneakers.

3. Order management

If your goal is to deliver relevant and enticing content to customers, being able to track what they’re purchasing is significant. Once a customer owns your product and is using it, learning about it, and experiencing your brand first-hand, it’s an opportunity to use contextual intelligence to really kick the customer experience up a notch.

With a commerce platform that integrates purchase data and content management, you can avoid putting customers through the frustrating déjà vu of receiving content promoting something they just purchased. It also allows you to build the relationship using personalized content — think product manuals, guides, videos, or complementary products.

4. Customer management

By tracking, gathering data, and acting on your customers’ activities, you can convert them from anonymous visitors into members of a customer segment, with clearly defined interests and buying patterns. You can then track, analyze, and market against that information to continually fine-tune and contextualize the commerce experiences you deliver.

5. Pricing engine

A commerce platform with an easy-to-use and customizable contextual pricing engine goes hand-in-hand with personalization, because it offers the merchandiser the ability to offer different pricing to specific target groups. Personalized pricing offers might take into account the time of year, current and predicted events, units purchased, and individual customer purchase history, in addition to basic inventory considerations.

For instance, after a customer purchases a pair of boots, they might be alerted that winter is on its way — with a link to a video or helpful content explaining the proper care to ensure their boots provide many years of enjoyment. It might also include an offer with special pricing for waterproofing spray.

6. Contextual promotion engine

Customizing promotions on specific products is an excellent way to personalize your customer relationships.

With the right commerce platform in place, you can decide where, when, and how shoppers will interact with your promotions. You can set rules based on date, time, customer order history, and more.

For example, you might offer discounts to dormant customers, or offer discounted shipping to visitors within 24 hours after they abandon items in their shopping carts. It’s an effective way to show customers and potential customers that you’re paying attention to them — and that’s your ticket to fostering better relationships and brand loyalty.

Most brands are aware of the need for more personalized commerce experiences. Yet only 47% of organizations are collecting purchase history data.

Sitecore and Vanson Bourne research, 2017

Chapter 2

What else should your platform do?

In addition to the capabilities we mention above, with the right commerce platform, you should also be able to:

  • Easily modify storefronts with drag-and-drop features
  • Customize your white-labeled cart, checkout, and customer account
  • Have API integrations with ERP and other back-office systems
  • Make it future-proof with the scalability of cloud deployment

A natively integrated digital content and commerce platform such as Sitecore Commerce Cloud allows you to manage all customer data and content in one central repository. It’s a must-have on the road to giving your customers relevant and personalized experiences before, during, and after the moment of transaction.