Cross-channel commerce obstacles ‘cost merchants dearly’

The global electronic commerce (e-commerce) market is worth nearly US$2 trillion and growing, but a study finds that companies face difficulties successfully managing cross-channel commerce across continents, supply chains and software systems, resulting in lost revenue.

Multi-enterprise product information network 1WorldSync surveyed 400 merchants and suppliers from Europe and the US with annual revenues of US$500m in annual revenue. It found that many are not prepared to meet the cross-channel demands of today’s customers, and while there are clear market leaders, no company has perfected multi-channel commerce.

The newly-released study, entitled ‘Charting Course for Global Commerce’, suggests that over half (53%) of merchants and suppliers experience a knowledge gap within their organisation when it comes to understanding the value of cross-channel capabilities. Channel readiness is a significant struggle throughout the supply chain as e-commerce continues to evolve.

Among the other findings:

  • Future investment plans don’t address current e-commerce weakness: Forty-five percent of merchants and suppliers have lost more than US$1m in revenue due to cross-channel commerce challenges, while 13% have lost more than US$3m.
  • Lack of content solutions hamper success: Half of the merchants and suppliers surveyed do not use a third-party content provider, which hinders their ability to syndicate product content across channels and platforms.
  • Merchants lag when it comes to cross-channel commerce: Fifty-one percent of merchants cannot support mobile commerce, and 80% don’t integrate product information management across web, mobile, applications and physical stores.

“In the dynamic world of digital commerce, merchants and suppliers are facing significant issues capitalising on the opportunities within different channels and geographies,” said Nihat Arkan, chief executive officer (CEO) of 1WorldSync.

“As the space has evolved, there are more regulations to comply with, more channels to be present on and more partners to trade with than ever. Before both sides of the retail equation can truly master omnichannel commerce, they have to ensure their digital investments address their current challenges.”

While many merchants and suppliers struggle with different aspects of the retail experience, the study suggests clear lessons to be learned from market leaders who complete at least half of sales online. For companies looking to upgrade their e-commerce capabilities, top action items include:

  • Invest now in cross-channel capabilities: Sixty-five percent of market leaders have dedicated more than 30% of their commerce budget to digital and mobile commerce expansion in the last year. Today, 73% of merchant market leaders can fully execute mobile commerce, nearly 20% more than market laggards. Investments here help in the short and long term.
  • Engage with a third-party content provider: Eighty percent of market leaders use a third-party content provider, which is undoubtedly one reason this group reports greater visibility between trading partners.
  • Migrate to the cloud: Ninety-five percent of supplier market leaders use a cloud-based product information system, which simplifies the online sales process and enhances supply chain efficiency.

“Early adopters of retail technologies that make cross-channel commerce more efficient and streamlined have become clear market leaders,” adds Arkan.

“Because of the breadth and scale of today’s e-commerce environment, managing product content while investing in infrastructure that can adapt to future market demands should be a major priority for every company in this space.”

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