Editor’s Note: The pace of digital commerce implementation and transformation is accelerating for many business organizations, and for many businesses, this means significant changes await them to their e-commerce technology infrastructure . As the business world sheds old, outdated systems and replaces old technologies with new cloud and software-as-a-service applications, new tools for connected and headless commerce and artificial intelligence applications such as ChatGPT emerging on the e-commerce scene. But are these new tools and programs “must have” or “nice to have” B2B ecommerce applications? And how soon should businesses begin evaluating and implementing new e-commerce technology? In this Q&A article, Perficient consultant in digital experience, commerce and omnichannel services Ty RhudYes offers some key answers.
Digital Commerce 360: How likely are businesses to use new digital commerce applications and services amid a slowdown in the economy and business productivity?
Ruthy: Businesses are rethinking their approach to digital commerce. It used to be that digital commerce platforms were just shopping carts. These days, it’s either a digital experience platform (DXP) model, a custom model, or some form of headless. Many brands are considering headless in the coming years. However, more importantly, we are seeing customers consider the transformative capabilities of product information management and distributed order management as part of their e-commerce application strategy for omnichannel operations. Digital maturity is truly an important part of what is right for the right customer.
DVS360: How quickly (or slowly) are businesses migrating their e-commerce applications to the cloud and Software-as-a-Service products?
Ruthy: Not as fast as you might think. We have found that customers have had difficulty accessing the cloud or, alternatively, being able to extract from the cloud the data they need for certain API functionalities of their solutions. There is no doubt, however, that customers are moving to the cloud. It’s just a matter of thinking more about how to approach it.
DVS360: Is connected commerce real? If so, what is it?
Ruthy: Honestly, it’s ambitious at this point. I speak with dozens of companies and I can’t tell you a single client I’ve met who can deliver connected commerce. However, all want to move in this direction with the right business foundation, aligned with a digital strategy tailored to their core customers. Helping businesses build the foundations that can deliver connected commerce capabilities is what’s real.
DVS360: How quickly (or slowly) are B2B organizations adopting connected commerce?
Rhudy: I would say slowly at this point. Customers underwent the pandemic stress test to see what wasn’t working, what needed to be improved, and how to help grow again. This is a crucial pause for clients to actually take that next step into digital/connected commerce as part of their core strategy. There is no reduction in the expectations of customers wanting connected commerce.
DVS360: Headless commerce continues to make news. What is it exactly? Are more and more companies using it and for what purpose?
Ruthy: Headless commerce is about choosing the best technology and using microservices rather than monolithic platforms to deliver commerce capabilities. I think it will continue to grow; However, DXP solutions still provide a lot of value to an organization (or set of DXP solutions). To be able to offer headless solutions requires great digital maturity and a lot of work around the people and processes to be executed. This is still true with DXP models but with a little less risk. We believe there is ample room for headless and DXP approaches. What’s confusing is when customers choose to go for customization. The capital required to deliver modern experiences with a personalized approach is significant. We believe more customers will move away from this model.
DVS360: Is ChatGPT real? If so, what role does it play in B2B digital commerce?
Ruthy: Yes and no. ChatGPT is still very new. I think with any AI solution (ChatGPT, search, natural language processing, machine learning) it’s important to think of it not as a buzzword but as a use case. We help our customers determine at any time which is the most appropriate use case for their business with these solutions. For example, the chatbots we have implemented for automobile brands, etc. There is power in the application of these technologies. It is obviously important to get advice on how to adapt safely. We have many models around this.
DVS360: Do you see businesses spending more – or less – on e-commerce apps and services this year?
Ruthy: We’re seeing a bit of a shake-up in 2023. However, with all the market disruption in areas like the depreciation of Google 360, the slower move to the cloud, the dynamics of headless technology, the consideration of experiences with new AR/VR sets (like Apple), we see big things coming for 2024. Smart customers are working on these things right now.
DVS360: How do you see e-commerce platforms evolving in the next 2 to 5 years?
Ruthy: Honestly, it’s less about the platform and more about how organizations configure their technology to align with business needs and capabilities. We will help our customers extract full value from platforms by delivering business outcomes more than platform features.
DC360: What do you think are the “must-have” and “nice-to-have” e-commerce apps or services that businesses need to add now rather than later?
Ruthy: We attach great importance to PIM solutions. It’s a solution that cuts deep into the heart of an e-commerce business in how it manages and shares product information. Additionally, distributed order management is a transformative commerce-related solution. Additionally, we have yet to truly understand the full value of a fully leveraged content and commerce system to deliver personalized experiences at scale. But this future is coming!
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