What is digital commerce?
Digital commerce is essentially the evolution of eCommerce. It involves buying and selling goods and services through the use of digital channels like the internet, mobile networks, and commerce infrastructure.
Here’s how Gartner defines digital commerce:
“Digital commerce enables customers to purchase goods and services through an interactive and self-service experience. It includes the people, processes and technologies to execute the offering of development content, analytics, promotion, pricing, customer acquisition and retention, and customer experience at all touchpoints throughout the customer buying journey.”
Back in the day, you could get away with just launching an eCommerce website and expecting it to work for you. But that’s not enough anymore. Today, you need to have a comprehensive digital commerce strategy to play on… and that involves creating an ideal, end-to-end customer experience that your shoppers will actually enjoy.
Some of the ways to create such an experience are:
- Speeding up page loading times
- Making use of high-quality visuals
- Creating a user experience that is consistent across multiple devices (e.g. on mobile, tablet, desktop, browser).
- Having a consistent tone and messaging across all your social channels.
- Providing website content that offers customers additional value and helps your brand look like it genuinely seeks to help your audience, rather than just tryng to make a quick sale.
The whole point of digital commerce is to make it possible for people to buy products and services online without human intervention. They would not need to speak with or contact anyone.
What does digital commerce include?
Digital commerce tends to include the marketing activities that support the online buying transactions, including people, processes, and technologies to pull off the offering of development content. It also includes analytics, promotion, and pricing.
It spans an integrated set of personalized digital experiences, all the way from customer acquisition through retention, which generally tend to be owned and managed by the marketing department.
All the elements of the purchase decisions form a part of digital commerce. These are all critical aspects of digital commerce and without them, the whole digital commerce experience would just not be complete.
Digital strategists tend to work on mapping the whole consumer journey (irrespective of whether its for a product or a service), figuring out how much importance to assign to every purchase milestone, and building consumer journeys that offer a seamless experience to the end-user.
The aspects of digital commerce include:
- Product descriptions, images, and other media
- Marketing as a function, promotional campaigns, social media engagement
- User experience mapping
- Customer service (especially when its automated with artificially intelligent chatbots)
- Order fulfillment and supply chain management
Is digital commerce same as eCommerce?
There are a lot of overlapping aspects between digital commerce and eCommerce, but they aren’t the same thing. eCommerce is generally limited to the platforms over which it is conducted (and yes, that includes websites). But digital commerce, on the other hand, happens to be device agnostic, and can be carried out on a wide range of platforms including websites, applications, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR).
The focus in eCommerce is on selling. An eCommerce company’s success depends on the total revenue that it could generate while keeping inventory costs low. Traditional eCommerce tends to be more transactional in nature.
In digital commerce, there is a lot of attention paid to engagement in the buying process. Digital commerce is heavily driven by content and mobile devices. The primary metric of success is customer lifetime value (CLV), or the amount of revenue earned from the same customer over the entire period of time during which they do business with your company. This is extremely valuable because it allows digital commerce businesses to keep generating more revenue from an existing customer, thus reducing your marketing and customer acquisition costs substantially. To increase the customer lifetime value, digital commerce focuses on keeping customers engaged throughout the buying process.
Digital commerce also aims to create exceptional buying experiences by making it easier for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for. If they can intuitively and easily find everything that they’re looking for, their need to reach out to your sales or customer service team for help reduces dramatically. This also makes it possible for your sales and customer service teams to spend their time and energy helping customers who actually need their help.
How does digital commerce work?
Digital commerce is heavily dependent on automation for it to work in the way it is intended to work. Data is also a very critical factor here. Digital commerce works using particularly complex automation and enormous volumes of data that get turned into insights through the use of analytics tools.
Data is extremely important in digital commerce for several reasons. One of which being that it functions as the backbone of predictive analytics that makes it possible for digital commerce retailers to foresee events that could adversely affect their supply chain far in advance on the basis of requency, seasonality, and other factors, allowing these retailers to take the right actions to avoid getting stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Digital commerce tends to be omnichannel in nature and can be carried out on whichever platform the customer chooses to use. But this can only happen when roadmaps are drawn for every possible scenario and supported by automation tools that control everything from inventory movement to customer service and satisfaction.
Even services can be delivered over the digital commerce model. Looking for an example? Just take a look at any SaaS (software as a service) application available on the market.
What are the benefits of digital commerce?
The benefits of digital commerce include:
Most digital commerce processes tend to be automated and require lower amounts of manpower, which makes it easier for companies to scale up when they’re following this business model.
Pretty much all potential consumer journeys are mapped out in advance and supported by relevant content. It uses marketing automation in the best way possible, predicting the customer’s next logical need and fulfills that need to guide customers towards making a purchase. It reduces buying time substantially.
Improved customer experience
Digital commerce enables merchants to create personalized, omnichannel shopping experiences that make customers feel like the retailers understand them. It leads to customer delight and higher levels of customer loyalty.