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How can technology leaders help themselves and their business partners in the increasingly demanding world of modern commerce?
The digitally-driven economy can be a wonderful space for technology leaders to engage their business partners in creative, revenue-generating programs to grow the business and the power of the brand.
But due to the incredibly fast-moving and ever-changing nature of modern commerce, it can also present technology professionals with significant challenges — especially as time horizons have shifted from months to weeks (and even days).
Accelerated by the rapid increase of digital touchpoints, business teams must lean on technological innovation and fast delivery capabilities.
For teams to benefit from these innovations and capabilities, they must follow the essential best practices for IT leaders to win on the digital shelf.
Modern commerce has put tremendous stress on brand manufacturers, businesses, and IT organizations. From the challenges of meeting consumers wherever (and whenever) they are shopping to the need for excellent product content that brings product experiences to life across the many digital endpoints, there are many challenges brands face.
This new reality is evident across industries: From the food and beverage industry — where consumers are flooding digital storefronts to research brands and execute buy and collect transactions — to the apparel and footwear industry — where consumers seek to build relationships with brands by learning about the evolution, eco-friendliness, and reviews from fellow shoppers.
This phenomenon is further exacerbated by online retailers like Amazon that understand that great content leads to conversion. Merchants are continually updating content requirements, creating pressure for brands to respond to the new requirements rapidly.
The tradition is rich in the deployment and support of "back-office" corporate technology that enables supply chain, HR, and finance operations to excel. But this often doesn't apply to digital commerce platforms that focus on the consumer — whether in a direct-to-consumer (D2C) or business-to-business (B2B) model.
Partly for this reason — whether it's standalone content management solutions or old standby Excel — digital business teams have ventured on their own to find and deploy digitally centric tools to help them compete on the digital shelf.
The problem is that these solutions are often not enterprise-grade in terms of security and data-governance capabilities, nor are they agile enough for digital business teams to respond to the demands of the digital shelf.
There are three central best practices for overcoming these challenges — which are not uncommon for most chief information officers.
Start by building relationships with digital commerce stakeholders to develop a thorough understanding of brand aspirations and business goals. Utilize available resources, both internal and external, to understand the profile of the consumer, as well as the digital buy channels (market places, social platforms, etc.) that are important to the digital team and brand.
Don't be shy. Digital teams often must rush to build and publish disparately managed content. This process can cause a disconnect, meaning digital teams may not be fully aware of industry best practices and tools that can help all teams achieve the desired outcomes. Remember: It's a team sport.
Next, build a digital team in the technology function. Perhaps even more so than the departments that support back-office technologies, a digital team needs to work hand-in-glove with business teams.
Similarly, they need to understand the business goals, metrics, and industry best practices and tools. But unlike the teams that support back-office functions, they must move very quickly and be comfortable with a “fail fast” mindset, which is the ethos of the digital commerce world.
This team also needs to be creative with a big-picture mentality — technology savvy and more focused on business outcomes than slick technology.
Seek out these characteristics within the organization — perhaps even someone from the business itself — but be prepared to search for these skills in the marketplace or augment your internal team with external expertise.
Platform selections are paramount for not only achieving the needs of the business but also for the needs of the IT team. A platform built for modern commerce helps IT teams secure and manage the critical product content that defines your brand.
While business and technology objectives can sometimes clash, this doesn't have to happen. Similar to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, a fully integrated, enterprise-grade, digitally centric commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform can achieve both objectives.
Just like procurement, sales, and financial transactions are integrated through an integrated ERP platform, a CommerceXM platform like Salsify has an organically built unified platform that centrally manages all digital content.
This integration enables business teams to build rich, consumer-engaging content rapidly. It allows business teams to ensure that content is ready for the end-destination, such as Amazon or Walmart.com, before it's published — all from the same platform.
The platform's closed-loop nature provides digital teams with content insights from the sales channels and drives actions to enable rapid content adjustments. It also supports the re-publishing of content before becoming "second-class" in terms of the marketplace's requirements.
Simplicity and standardization — the holy grails for the industry — are the most essential benefits for IT.
Salsify's CommerceXM solution offers one vendor and platform for overseeing relationships, security, and overall data management. It integrates with other platforms, such as ERP systems, product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, and external marketplaces. It also remains continuously fresh and tightly secured due to its multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) architecture.
In the end, while IT needs to rally around digital business needs, it can reduce complexity, overhead, and cost. This is how business and technology functions will win together in the digital economy — powered by the digital shelf.
Watch our on-demand webinar, “Exec POV: How to Transition to a Digital-First Omnichannel Organization,” where Chris Parsons, president of the Americas for the Mayborn Group, shares how he’s building a digital-first consumer journey.
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