June 26 by Michael Dunne
Digital Commerce (D-Commerce) is the activity of buying or selling of goods and services through multiple digital channels. Digital commerce can also encompass the entire processes of development, marketing, and servicing through a digital channel as well. With the vast amount of technology in society and the Internet of Things, companies must be able to adjust and optimize their business to adapt to digital commerce. In planning digital commerce initiatives, 10 critical capabilities should be explored for achieving differentiation in order for your business to stand out from all of the noise.
10 key functional categories in digital commerce that must be considered:
1. Catalog Management – Administer product data and supporting content (like marketing, technical and sales documents) across multiple product catalogs and complex product hierarchies. These capabilities enable content orchestration and change management, including sharing of data and assets across lines of businesses and partner sites, and handling new product introductions and product lifecycles.
2. Guided Buying/Selling – Self-service models are most effective when direction can be given to users on products that match requirements and offer relevant alternatives and add-ons. Ideally, machine-driven analytics can be applied to produce recommendations on products based on customer data and activities. Normally questionnaires with branching logic walk customers and partners through product portfolios and Web pated. Recommendations engines then showcase product substitutions, upgrades, options and different product bundles. Constraints and business rules and workflows should be easy to change as product portfolios change.
3. Product configuration – Configurators define and manage relationships, rules and constraints that drive unique combinations of components, products, options and services. These tools make differentiation manageable and scalable, by allowing customer facing staff and partners tailor solutions to the different needs of their markets, as well as enabling users in self-service environments personalize their own solutions. The administrative environments should make it easy for business practitioners to define, test/update and deploy configuration models.
4. Pricing – These tools automate processes for price setting, price administration and price execution that defend and bolster firms’ pricing power. Such automation vastly improves efforts to develop, maintain, analyze and update pricing lists, policies and discounts for different channels, regions, partners or even corporate divisions. Innovation in pricing then becomes considerably easier, like with implementing attribute-based pricing, subscription-based pricing and value-based pricing.
5. Promotions and Rebates – Systematic approaches to managing any type of incentives is invaluable to marketing campaigns and channel strategies, for building awareness, demand and loyalty. Functionality should automate tasks for defining, launching and retiring promotions and rebates. Actual sales and orders need to be tracked to determine program effectiveness, while payment processes must be accurate and completely auditable.
6. Contract Management – Critical automation for accurately managing the terms and conditions that define commercial relationships, eliminating bottlenecks with closing transactions. Such capabilities also provide the basis for effectively growing subscriptions and recurring revenues, by permitting rapid access to the terms of existing business. Functionality spans authoring, updating and analysis of multiple contract types, redlining and tracking changes, approval workflows, electronic signature and support for third party contracts of counterparties.
7. Ordering and Billing – This functinality ties buying experiences and fulfillment together. Processes for generating orders must be fast, seamless and flawless. All fulfillment details must be correctly captured and conveyed to the right production and/or logistics organizations. With online sales, smooth check out processes are a must with bulletproof payment processes. In B2B commerce, relevant quoting and proposal information should flow into orders and contracts to eliminate duplicate data entry and errors, with all details validated and passed on to bills of materials (BoMs), and billing systems.
8. Renewals – In conjunction with contract management, automated and managed renewals capabilities underpin business models based on subscriptions and recurring revenues. Alerts and notifications provide advanced notice on expirations while asset-based ordering gives visibility into what has been purchased. Upselling, swaps and cross-selling can be supported through recommendations that reference pricing updates, new product introductions, end-of-life schedules and contract pricing.
9. Usability and Mobility – User adoption is critical to any digital business. Ultimately, high quality user experiences based on popular Web design principles and intuitive access to resources will collapse learning curves, ensure the success of a system, and advance the brand of an online presence. Mobility is vital, with responsive designs for user interfaces that ensure features and data are intuitively arranged and presented within the screen real estate of any device, for any user, partner or end customers.
10. Analytics – Understanding in real time trends in buying patterns and incoming business is a significant advantage, such as demand for products, realized prices and discounting activities. Predictive and prescriptive analytics help enterprises identify, assess and take action on key indicators like sales cycle times, conversion rates, win rates, deal slippage, average transaction values and renewals. Drill-down features permit revenue teams to examine issues more closely, by region, company, channel, product, customer segment or any other dimension. It is not a question of “if” but “when” multichannel selling becomes an essential core competency for most industries, both B2B as well as B2C, in raising the competitiveness of enterprises, and boosting growth rates of revenues and profits. So begin pursuing a concerted effort at leveraging digital commerce technologies to excel at multichannel sales disciplines.