Ecommerce transactions can no longer exist in isolation from other stages in the complete customer journey. Online shoppers now expect to shift effortlessly between commerce, social, marketing, and customer support experiences.
This requires marketers and ecommerce teams to create unified experiences that cut across multiple channels, devices and functional areas. Just as technical integration is a necessary pre-condition of any successful ecommerce solution – fast and efficient cross-departmental collaboration with marketing teams is a critical requirement on the business side.
Too Many Chefs? The Business Challenge of Modern Ecommerce
The need to blend commerce functionality – such as searchable product catalogs and digital shopping carts – with other forms of inspirational and instructional brand content is creating a nightmare for the marketers and ecommerce professionals who are responsible for creating and delivering the experiences for online customers. They must coordinate the activities of different people using different applications and accessing content from a wide range of repositories – include both local and cloud based tools.
As the pace of online shopping increases, the challenges faced by companies who need to execute quickly and efficiently are becoming even more difficult. Instead of rolling out 3 or 4 major campaigns per season and a handful of promotions per month, many retailers are launching new promotional campaigns on weekly basis – or, in the case of “Daily Deal” sites, even faster.
All of this really comes to a head at critical retail milestones such as Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Valentines Day, etc. In order to meet these inflexible deadlines and coordinate activities effectively, retailer employees are sometimes forced to leave their holidays early to gather in a war room until the wee hours in order to deliver on time.
Meeting End to End Collaboration Requirements
Clearly, something has to change. ecommerce companies need to adopt a new approach to collaboration that allows marketing and ecommerce professionals to work closely together but not too closely. That allows them to move quickly, without neglecting critical oversight, legal compliance and quality control.
In order to address the problem efficiently, they must focus their effort on the most critical stages in the production of the online experience – those points in the process where collaboration is most important. These include:
- Cross-Team Communication: Once a need for new content is identified, how does the ecommerce team communicate these instructions to marketing?
- Real-Time Collaboration: How do ecommerce and marketing professionals collectively accomplish their respective tasks in real-time?
- Ongoing Monitoring: How do all participants monitor the status of the work in progress?
To meet these requirements and create the kinds of relevant, real-time experiences that customers expect, both marketing and ecommerce teams need to learn how work in a flatter and more agile way. But they can’t do it on their own. Both teams need to adopt fast and flexible collaboration tools that sit alongside their traditional production tool set and provide support for both informal, everyday production tasks as well as more formal publication workflows.
Key Capabilities at Every Stage in the Collaborative Process
Unfortunately, flexible tools for collaborating across departments have not always been the rule in ecommerce or online publishing. Often, when large organizations think about collaboration, they think in terms of workflow processes. Effective collaboration tools for ecommerce and content teams must support both ad-hoc and more structured coordination over the entire content lifecycle from the initiation, creation and revision of content all the way through to approval, delivery and ongoing analysis.
Any effective cross-team collaboration environment must include the following end-to-end characteristics:
- A transparent messaging system that allows professionals to communicate across cross-departments
- Real-time architecture to ensure instant status updates to relevant users without manual refresh
- Ability to share work in progress with specific individuals and groups or the entire organization
- Ability to notify users when a task requires their attention
- A shared workspace where both ecommerce and marketing professionals can organize and access shared elements relevant to their roles
- Ability to prepare and assemble content in an ad-hoc way that can later be used in more structured workflows
- A folder structure that allows business users to logically group content that is needed for a specific task, project or team, regardless of its location in the brand or ecommerce repositories
- Ability to switch to more formal translation and/or publication workflow for final roll out of new content
- The ability for these teams to have transparent access to content and commerce data located in different repositories
- View the status of any content object in any shared set
- Accurate previews of final content-enhanced commerce experiences on any device and for any visitor
- Access to a shared analytics dashboard that allows all teams to visualize the connection between content publications and website traffic
- The ability to track attribution to ensure that each team can calculate its contribution to successful customer experiences
Increase Visibility, Efficiency, and Customer Engagement
A more flexible collaboration environment can help companies increase visibility and productivity, tackle more complicated cross-departmental projects and significantly accelerate their time to market. It also makes it easier to respond more quickly to unexpected promotional opportunities or unforeseen competitive threats.
Companies able to implement these solutions that support these capabilities are often able to increase their productivity by as much as 75% and reduce the amount of time to execute promotions from days to hours or even minutes. And on the customer side, companies that have been able to effectively combine content and commerce on their shopping sites have seen visitor traffic increase by as much as 36% and multi-channel sales grow by 60%.
Doug Heise, Global Product Marketing Director, CoreMedia