There are multiple ways to answer this question. The easiest explanation would be – digital commerce is the selling and buying of products and / or services online. The transaction may take place online or offline.
It is important to note that most businesses operating in different industries have an online presence and provide information on their product and / or services on website, social media, and other mediums. Hence, it becomes important to modify the traditional definition of digital commerce to match the current scenario.
Consider the following two different examples:
- Example 1 – Businesses that sell their products or services online and are able to accept payments online.
- Example 2 – Businesses that advertise their products or services online purely for informational purpose and accept payments offline.
Further Classification of Digital Commerce
- Active Digital Commerce – Businesses that are actively selling products and / or services as well as accepting payments online can be termed as a part of active digital commerce.
- Passive Digital Commerce – Businesses that are marketing their products and / or services online but are accepting the payments offline can be a part of passive digital commerce.
Digital Commerce – Overview
The basic use of digital commerce involves four different user types:
- User – A user is a website visitor who has not registered. He may browse the product catalogue, view prices, and more.
- Buyer – The buyer can place orders, browse product catalogue, and more.
- Seller – The seller can upload products, modify product details, reply queries shared by the buyers, and more.
- Admin – In case of a single store, the seller and website admin are same. The admin manages the entire website and is also responsible for marketing. To do so, he may create discount coupons, start an email campaign, and more.
For a seller to find buyers online, the first requirement is to establish the online presence. Few things are required to achieve that, such as digital commerce platform. Followed by implementation of marketing practices that involve omnichannel marketing techniques and the use of analytics to turn data into useful information. The final step involves omnichannel customer service.
Digital Commerce Software
A digital commerce software is an essential part of capability within the ecommerce ecosystem. A business owner has two options – select a digital commerce platform from a vendor or design and develop the software from scratch.
Platform Developed by a Vendor
There are many industry leaders such as IBM, Oracle, Magento, Salesforce, SAP, Digital River, and more, that provide a digital commerce platform.
There are professional services and software companies such as Accenture and Apttus, respectively, that offer solutions.
For startups and small medium businesses (SMBs), the ideal ecommerce platform providers can be Shopify, CS Cart, Yo!Kart, and others.
The two main elements of a digital commerce platform are:
Native Features – Platforms come with built-in features. These features help you perform different functions such as execute a new email marketing campaign, provide analytical insights, and more. Native features generally includes:
- Content management system (product descriptions, and more)
- User management
- Login / signup
- Revenue sources – advertisement, subscription, affiliate, and others
- Discount coupon management and social media
- Customer experience
- And more.
Third-party Integrations – There might be a case when the need to modify the platform arises to suit the business requirements.
Custom Software Development
Consumer expectations often change as more advanced technologies are developed. The use of technologies is essential to design and deliver the new ecommerce experiences possible within the ecosystem. Hence, the need for custom development arises.
Marketing and Customer Service
The essence of an omnichannel ecommerce marketing strategy is to deliver a consistent and targeted message across different channels. As a purchase journey often starts with a single search, it is important to know what relevant problems prospects are facing.
Omnichannel customer service creates an impactful outcome and bridges the gap between digital and physical. It increases cross-selling and up-selling opportunities by leveraging tools and techniques to understand the context at a deeper level.
Upcoming Trends in Digital Commerce
Smart Home – Smart home uses the internet of things (IoT) to connect different devices together. For example – a consumer can order groceries using smart assistant like Alexa while looking inside the refrigerator.
Augmented Reality – Due to Covid-19, many people are practising social distancing. This also gives rise to the use of augmented reality (AR) to browse products while the consumer is inside the store.
Digital commerce is an important differentiator for retailers. The transition from offline to online involves creating a strategy and selection of tools. In this blog post, introductory information on digital commerce platform and marketing was shared to enable businesses to make an informed decision.