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Retailers issue mandate to ecommerce companies requesting easier mobile integration

October 18, 2011

Retailers having trouble keeping up with consumers expectations

Feeling the pressure of needing to keep up with consumers’ expectations in the quickly evolving digital and mobile landscape, 20 retailers have teamed up to issue a list of ways that technology vendors can help.

Retailers insist that they need better technical interoperability, flexibility and usability from their commerce technology in order to be able to deliver a seamless experience across all shopping channels, including mobile devices, Web sites and social media. In order to meet the escalating expectations of consumers, the retail executives are calling on vendors to make it easier to integrate mobile across business processes, among other things.

“The premise of this whole exercise is based on the fact that consumers have fundamentally changed, are more connected and more knowledgeable than ever before,” said Robert Garf, vice president of product and solution marketing for Demandware, Burlington, MA.

“Success for the retailer is predicated on a new way of thinking around technology,” he said. “Retailers need more information and flexibility in dealing with the new tech-savvy consumer.”

Digital directives
Executives from Uggs, Deckers Outdoor and other retail organization meet recently during a workshop held by Demandware to discuss these issues and came up with “The Digital Directives: a Manifesto to Commerce Technology Providers.” The directives are being released today on the Web site

Retailers have been facing issues around integrating new technologies at least since bar code scanners first came on the scene.

What’s different now is that the pace of changing is picking up speed.

Additionally, many of the recent technological developments are consumer-facing instead of being related to back-end operations. This has retailers looking for ways to innovate at the same pace as today’s digitally savvy consumers.

Not only are consumers more technologically savvy, but they also have higher expectations than ever before and are more fickle and price-conscious.

“When the capabilities and features that you are bringing to market, are by nature consumer-facing, you don’t get a take two to make an impression,” Mr. Garf said.

“Because of all the transparency through mobile and social, it makes it difficult for a retailer to not only attract a consumer but also convert a consumer,” he said.

Mobile play a significant role in both opening up new opportunities for retailers to address consumers’ expectations and creating technological headaches for them.

In terms of interoperability, retailers want a way to format technology to when and where the consumer is shopping. Right now, a lot has to be reworked from a technology process when mobile is introduced.

“Retailers treat inventory, loyalty and product details as very finite and specific technology investments,” Mr. Garf said. “What they are looking for is to be able to extend and open mobile for these capabilities.

“They want to leverage their investment in existing core capabilities and to be able to extend those business processes and consumer experiences to the mobile device and in a flexible and scalable way,” he said.

Retailers also want to be able to empower store associates with as much knowledge as the consumer has using mobile.

The seven digital directives include that technology vendors enable faster innovation to consumers and extend commerce capabilities easily into any application, channel or device. The retailers would also like vendors to insure technology is interoperable and that brand experiences are unified for digital consumers.

The other digital directives are delivering ongoing success beyond the software sale, solving business problems and enabling merchants to do their job with minimal reliance on IT.

At the end of the day, what retailers want is to be able to harness new technology such as mobile more efficiently and effectively.

“Mobile was a huge area of focus for the retailers and a lot of it had to do with the expectations of consumers and the need for the retailers to innovate at a faster pace,” Mr. Garf said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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