It has been well covered that the pandemic radically changed the customer’s expectation of commerce experiences, forcing enterprises to accelerate their strategic commerce roadmaps. This is a phenomenon that spans all business models: from B2B and D2C, to all the distributors and suppliers in between.
We define strategic commerce experience as the ability to service the customer in ways that meet their expectations -- which sounds simple, but has become significantly more complex over the past 12 months. While eventually the pandemic’s effect on consumer behavior will wane, some recent commerce trends, accelerated during the pandemic, may have a longer-term impact.
Shift in Consumer Attitudes
Shopping has always had an entertainment component to it. Consumers enjoy popping in and out of shops with family and friends, and chatting with store owners regarding new products. Now that confidence in online purchasing is at an all-time high, consumers still want every available convenience at their disposal, but they also seek out more engaging customer experiences. Brands that can do both will win more sales.
Headless commerce is a prime example of the new norm. Prior to the pandemic, the notion of “commerce anywhere” was relegated to conference sessions and think-tank white papers. Today, consumers now expect to purchase items from wherever they are in the digital universe, without the bother of navigating to a ecommerce site. Consumers who fall in love with a new line of denim jackets will want to purchase directly from the Instagram post or TikTok video where they see it, and will view the traditional ecommerce flow as a barrier to purchase.
This fundamentally changes the whole notion of omnichannel commerce, as the point-of-sale workflow can be deployed anywhere in the digital universe via an ad, a post, a news story, a streaming platform, app, etc. With this ability, the customer buying journey becomes more personal, and brands need to find a way to optimize myriad journeys and experiences.
Meanwhile, the consumer’s penchant for digital wallets is upending other critical workflows, like checkout and payments. There are over 100 digital wallets available, and consumers expect to pay for their purchases using their preferred option, rather than typing in their credit card numbers and shipping information. And why should they, when companies like Shopify streamline all purchases and tracking information within their Shop Pay app?
B2B Companies Sell Direct to Consumers
B2B companies are also affected by the pandemic and the way in which it accelerated the retail apocalypse. With empty storefronts a common sight throughout America, B2B companies that typically sell through retail partners have new reasons to consider selling directly to customers using digital channels.
Many are following the advice of industry pundits and establishing D2C channels, a potentially massive undertaking that requires the development of new products, warehousing workflows and a suite of new pick-and-pack models. Companies will need strategic guidance to decide how to adapt to these new normals and determine the correct technology to seamlessly integrate into their existing platforms.
These developments are forcing enterprises in nearly every sector to think about their business in new ways, an exercise that is incredibly complex and far-reaching. But the stakes have never been higher, as the enterprises that will thrive in the future are the ones who can respond to these new normals.