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Direction of travel in retail, “unified commerce”, the view from Demandware Xchange Miami

Working hard in the sun. Honest…

So I was in Miami last week attending Demandware’s US conference. Firstly, before anyone asks, it was all work – the fact that the hotel had a big pool and a beachside vista didn’t influence my schedule at all.

I did listen to the cricket world cup while eating breakfast and looking at the sea on Sunday, but as I woke at 4am and had already done a shift of work to pass the time before sunrise, I thought it was justified.

We are obviously a Demandware partner and have an integration to the platform that allows us to make the localisation journey as easy as possible. “Frictionless” was a word that came up a lot at the event and I guess that is what we are trying to do: allow content to move friction-free between the customer’s product catalogue and our translation platform.

So what did I find out at the event related to the retail industry generally and that international journey in particular?
Firstly, Demandware seem to be doing something right as there were lots of customers in the process of deployment or just about to go live. Obviously, growth is great for everyone involved in the Demandware story and the shared sense of success between platform, customer and partner really came across.

The ability to deploy and scale, especially across regions, is a consistent theme for Demandware users and the platform. All the keynote talks had an emphasis on the importance of the international opportunity. This is something that perhaps wasn’t always central to the US retail model because of the size of the local opportunity in the US.

Also, what came across was the need to constantly think about how your strategy fits in driving revenue for all parts of the business. There was a really interesting discussion between True Religion, Charles Tyrwhitt shirts and The Limited regarding their different attempts to break down any silos between the perceived revenue channels.

They also talked about the challenge in getting customers in store. They want to have those multiple touch points but it seems more and more that the engagement is via the digital world, which creates a potential problem based on some additional data shared by Rick Kenney, one of the Demandware strategy gurus. The point is that the initial interaction between customer and retailer is often driven by a marketplace (Amazon in particular) rather than the shoppers putting the URL straight in.

Taking ownership of this through an app (although, interesting research; most people have 20 retail apps they regularly use) or through the other social touchpoints (such as Instagram, Facebook, etc) is obviously an important part of the mix to ensure that your expensively acquired customer remains a loyal and valuable addition for years to come.

However, it is also worth being clear that although the breadth of the Demandware universe means that a lot of experiences are vertical or brand specific, broadly I think brand owners and retailers are faced with a real challenge about how they own and define customer engagement as things get even more fragmented.

Carters also talked about their approach to building an ecommerce channel to support their historic business; they only really started online in 2010 but have grown at an exponential rate online. This seems down to their very clear understanding of what their customers expect of them as well as having a great strategy for success; international is a key growth area for them as they contemplate global domination.

So, lots to think about but one general thought. Although there are lots of bumps on the way a joined up retail strategy continues to offer massive opportunity.

Hopefully, see you in Berlin for the next Demandware Xchange in June! There are no beaches or palm trees to distract from the work there sadly…

Jeremy Clutton, Global Director, eCommerce & Channel Partners, Lingo24

Jeremy leads the London sales operations for Lingo24. He specialises in advising e-commerce businesses on everything related to translation, localisation and global marketing.
Jeremy has extensive experience in the translation business, working with a wide range of blue chip and SME companies on managing their language needs.

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