Organize Your Commerce System Around the Customer

Posted by Matt Rhodus, Vertical Market Expert for Retail, NetSuite

For almost as long as the idea of commerce has been around there’s been the notion that a business is selling either to consumers or businesses, with the occasional instance where a business might be selling to both. This has driven not only the commerce experience, i.e. physical locations, call centers, and the Web, but also forced many software companies to conform to these ideals, delivering functionality to meet either one segment or the other.

What has happened as a result, is a dichotomy of how to deliver on the commerce experience; Organizational Efficiency vs. a Great Customer Experience. However, customers today have come to expect the best of both worlds. As businesses try to balance the delicate challenge of growing revenue through an enhanced customer experience, while improving operational efficiency through the implementation of various business system solutions, they’re discovering they need to transform the business itself.

What do I mean by ‘transform?’ It’s allowing the business to think about how better to align with the customer. Typically, the customer experience started with the physical location as the primary channel, then adopted a direct-to-consumer strategy, or vice versa with a catalog and call center. Then came the Internet and ecommerce. Most recently, we’ve seen mobile and social media channels shake-up the industry. We don’t know what’s coming next, but we know one thing for certain – change will be constant.

With the proliferation of these channels consumers began to change their shopping patterns and there was no longer a linear path to purchase. Instead, they leveraged each of these channels to serve purposes specifically for their use. And to make it more challenging, consumers created a matrix of how they went through their buying experiences – meaning there was no single path that the business could optimize, it had to be adaptable, flexible and capable of servicing the consumer in real-time through every channel. This is becoming the ante to the game. If you aren’t providing this experience to customers you’re quickly becoming a laggard. Secondly, this no longer applies to only one segment of business; i.e. B2B or B2C or B2B2C. These B2C customers, who have received some of the better advancements in customer experiences, are also B2B consumers at some other aspect of their lives.

The single thread amidst all of this is that we can’t predict what will come next, so stop trying. Stop trying to build systems around channels or around business models. Instead, think of ways to enable capabilities that in and of themselves drive value to the business and the consumer. Forget labeling things as B2B, or B2C, or B2B2C, or G2G, or M2M. If you organize your business around key capabilities, with an understanding of how this will benefit both the customer and the operational efficiencies without designing it specifically for a channel, then that capability becomes available to any channel or business model you need. During this year’s SuiteWorld, NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson talks about this evolution of business models [Starts at:24:00].

You should organize your system and operations around the customer, not the channel or business models.

A cloud-based commerce platform gives you time to focus on innovation and enabling new capabilities across the enterprise. You should have full visibility into your operations across all channels and insight to your customers buying habits. A system that gives you and your customer that level of visibility and execution, and the ability to expose that to any channel or business unit you decide, or that you haven’t even thought of yet? That’s true power for the customer experience, and certainly meets the expectation on operational efficiency. Maybe it’s not so complicated after all.



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