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Insights

Retailers’ Greatest Barriers to Ecommerce Success

Jennifer Bosavage
October 16, 2019

3 minute read

Successful ecommerce efforts have similar traits: new customers are acquired, while loyal ones are retained; personalization is on target, and brand awareness is on the rise. However, despite digital retail marketers working quickly and efficiently to reach those objectives, significant challenges stand in the way.

A recent Commerce Next and Oracle Customer Experience Cloud report, “How Leading Retailers and Direct-to-Consumer Brands Are Investing in Digital,” found that marketers’ hurdles preventing ecommerce success include: managing integrations of technology across the marketing stack (39%); executing quickly enough on marketing initiatives (30%); the inability to get a unified view of the customer (27%), and aging technology systems (23%). Today’s marketers are tasked with increasing revenue and customer acquisition while facing considerable obstacles—and those challenges are compounded by the constant evolution of ecommerce marketing.

Integrating tech within the marketing stack

Typically, the marketing stack comprises applications and platforms to manage CRM, marketing automation, personalization, social media marketing, and management, etc. Getting the various point solutions to work together — integrating the stack — is a tall order that often takes longer than expected because of the complexity of the technologies.

In addition, the Oracle report revealed that a retailer’s technology stack is not always aligned to support marketing objectives. Here, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have an advantage. To remain competitive, traditional brands are looking at tools and technologies that break through siloed marketing applications and support integrating first-party customer data.

Executing quickly on marketing initiatives

Many executives want to execute more quickly on marketing initiatives; according to the Oracle study, 30% of respondents cited the inability to move fast was a top barrier to achieving ecommerce marketing goals in 2018, and 42% expected that to continue to be a hindrance in 2019. Both traditional and DTC retailers are equally concerned with “executing quickly enough on marketing initiatives.”

Unified customer view

Because today’s customers can use various channels to buy a single item — including Facebook, Snapchat, retail web sites, and storefronts — retailers are often left with a fractured customer view. By applying data analytics to those different channels, retailers can create aggregated customer views and collate customer’s past behavior, purchases, browsing history, and preferences. Customers profiles are constantly evolving, updating with every interaction between brand and customer. That information can then be modeled to predict future demand.

Creating that unified view of customers is a substantial challenge, but one that can pay off with huge dividends, from boosting customer satisfaction to minimizing costs and simplifying business processes. Success requires new technologies to enhance ability to respond to the needs of the organization and changes in the market.

Aging technology

Traditional brands are concerned about the impact of aging technology, according to the Oracle report. That puts them at a strategic disadvantage with DTC brands, which are founded on principles such as data-driven decisions, nimbleness, customer-centric operations and experimentation.

By not worrying about legacy hardware and out-of-date software, DTC brands can evolve rapidly. Fueled by venture capital investment, these brands are often hyper-focused on growth, sometimes at the expense of profitability. While traditional marketers fret about over-investing in cloud computing and artificial intelligence, DTC marketers are tasked with achieving profitability at scale; the Oracle report found that concerned 40% of DTC vs. just 11% of incumbent brands.

For true ecommerce success, it’s important for marketers to recognize potential hurdles and be prepared to overcome them. Investments in technology as well as in focused marketing initiatives pave the way to an efficient and lucrative experience.

Jennifer Bosavage
Jennifer Bosavage
Jennifer Bosavage is a Connecticut native and has been writing about technology since the fax machine debuted. While Jen has covered IT, retail, and customer satisfaction for many years, she also has an undercover history as a Secret Shopper.
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