It was not so long ago, when spurred by the customer pressures of an increasingly competitive world that retailers realized they needed cutting-edge e-commerce solutions to stay ahead in the marketplace. Toward this objective, they embraced future-ready e-commerce solutions. In fact, e-commerce became such a buzzword that retailers felt all they needed to penetrate the online space was the single-channel process of a website with which to sell products and a dedicated direct distribution center – and they could qualify as multi-channel retailers.
While e-commerce provides a platform for businesses to represent their services and products on the Internet as well as conduct online transactions via secure connections, a mere website was insufficient to accelerate conversion and drive profits. Considering this, several companies began to add e-commerce capabilities to their existing websites using several methods. Some retailers outsourced e-commerce infrastructure and operations using the Amazon model, others built in-house e-commerce capabilities, and some leveraged their existing legacy infrastructure to support e-commerce capabilities.
Much has changed in the fast-evolving Internet landscape since then and ‘multi-channel commerce’ is now almost replacing the term ‘e-commerce’. Retailers have realized that their e-commerce platform needs to have multiple channels that are not alternatives but complements to each other for customers use channels as additives of each other. Retailers must rethink their e-commerce strategy around the idea of channel chains: They need to efficiently manage and seamlessly integrate disparate channels to provide customers the rich and unified experience which is critical to gaining and retaining their loyalty.
Thus, there is a multifold increase in the complexity of multi-channel integrations – in terms of providing a unified view to customers irrespective of the buying channels, real-time inventory visibility and fulfillment options. Seeing an opportunity in this space, several product companies started offering configurable packages to create a best-fit e-commerce platform.