“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. George Orwell’s Animal Farm might not seem like the obvious place to start when talking about ecommerce, but that quote is just as appropriate when discussing retailers’ battle to maximise online market share – without cannibalising sales in other channels.
A report released by Retail Systems Research recently shed some light on the different levels of maturity within retail ecommerce. While in the consumer’s eye, online shopping is a (mostly) seamless experience, there’s a definite divide between retailers doing it well – the winners – and those losing ground – the laggards.
What makes an ecommerce laggard – or a winner?
One of the report’s major revelations is about where less developed retailers’ ecommerce priorities lie. They’re still very much focussed on getting the basics right; investing in cross-channel capabilities, cost effective shipping and fulfilment.
Winners, on the other hand, have hurdled many of the initial ecommerce barriers, and are grappling with new challenges; processing and accounting for returns is high on their agenda, for example.
How can retailers move their online business forward?
For both parties, success online comes down to the tools and systems available. Retail Systems Research concludes that ecommerce laggards are far more likely than winners to be hanging onto legacy sites, trying to shoehorn new capabilities into technology past its sell-by date.
But even among the more advanced ecommerce advocates, technology is still a hurdle to development; a quarter of those in the winner category believe their existing technology infrastructure is preventing them from moving forward.
This challenge of restricting technology is something Manhattan Associates has seen in our work with retailers at all stages of ecommerce maturity. As we outlined in our recent roadmap for omni-channel fulfilment, aligning IT and business objectives is essential for effective order management and fulfilment, to facilitate complete visibility and availability of goods for commerce.
Retailers might currently be at different points on this omni-channel roadmap, but they’re all taking the same journey, hoping to reach the same destination: a place of deep and lasting customer engagement.
The next step in the maturing of ecommerce will be to move beyond seeing technology as a barrier to success, and view it as an enabler to reach these customers.