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July 14, 2017

A Shopping Cart is Not an eCommerce Solution

Thought by Ray Saltini, Director, FFW Center of Excellence

I teach Drupal. A lot. Often when I talk about Drupal I talk about how some people never leave their comfort zone to learn new things. Sometimes I make wise cracks about Flash or ColdFusion. Everyone gets the joke. Soon I'll be joking about standalone shopping carts. I think most people will get that joke too.

It's not that many shopping cart services aren't good. In fact, many are excellent. eCommerce is one of the more mature areas of the internet - after all - selling things is what catapulted the web into prominence and it all happened in the shopping cart. But eCommerce is much more challenging now and to be competitive in today's market businesses need much more than a tool that takes their client's money.

Businesses need to think in terms of Digital Experience Platforms or DXP's.

Questions and Answers

Why is eCommerce so much more complicated?

I once had the soon to be president of Black and Decker stress to me one of the most important questions in business: "What is our product and how do we bring it to market?" he said.

While those are still arguably the most important questions, we understand there are more that need to be asked and answered. Consider the following list.

How can we bring…

  • the right product or service…
  • to the right customers…
  • at the right time…
  • at the right place…
  • in the right condition…
  • in the right quantity…
  • at the right price?

To be competitive in today's retail environment you've got to be able to answer these questions for both online and walk-in customers.

Now answer these:

  • Does your shopping cart help you answer these questions?
  • Does your website help you answer these questions?
  • Do any of your sales channels help you answer these questions?

If you answered yes to any of them, congrats. Now ask:

  • How much are you paying for answers?
  • How much are you failing to earn because you don't have good answers?

Finally ask yourself this set of questions:

  • Do my tools help me flatten my business process or streamline my organization: this should include everything from your supply chain to your sales operations.
  • Do your tools just help you keep your head above water?
  • How much overhead do they add to your business process?

It's the Content, and the Experience

The good news is the answers to many of the market questions are out there for anyone who is able to generate high value content, collect data and turn it into useful information. While that is a huge complex equation it can be answered by the right tools and right decisions. The answers to the questions driving today's markets are in the content and the consumption of that content. The more, better, easily consumed, engaging, provocative content you make and manage the better your answers to your most critical market questions.

I think this simple smart observation about the importance of content published in Forbes by Melissa Pitts way back in 2012 still rings true.

With so much of our lives spent online, it's more important than ever to remember the wisdom expressed in Cluetrain. In case you've forgotten or never read it, it is is still some of the best, most common sense marketing truth out there today.

"Markets are conversations," the now famous line from the 1999 manifesto reads.

Newsflash: shopping carts don't manage content and they don't spark communities or conversations. Digital Experience Platforms start conversations. Think about how Facebook has evolved into an ecommerce powerhouse. Think about all the conversations going on within Amazon - 'Hello Alexa!'

Ask yourself one final question: Does my shopping cart spark conversations?

I have no clue why so many eRetailers still rely so heavily on such limited tools for supporting their eCommerce. I do know they risk being the butt of jokes soon enough.

Repeat after me: 'A Shopping Cart is Not an eCommerce Solution and an eCommerce Solution is not a Digital Experience Platform.'

If you and your organization understand these critical concepts then you are on the right track.

The Only Smart eCommerce Solution is a Digital Experience Solution

Implementing a full fledged DXP solution will help you answer these market questions and much more. Most eCommerce 'solutions' are just shopping carts with a few bells and whistles that fall far short of the DXP mark especially when they can cost you upwards of $15K per year just to access. Shopping cart solutions just don't deliver.

At FFW we work with Drupal extensively. We started working with it because it was a great CMS. With the release of Drupal 8 it's an even better application platform and we continue to work with Drupal and invest in its future because it can be used to build innovative, integrated solutions that drive adoption across organizations and affinities. Drupal helps our clients gather tremendous amounts of data and then turn it into useful information. Drupal helps us deliver content and then harvest information about the visitors that consume that content. That helps us make the right match between consumers, products and services. That is the essence of a great Digital Experience Platform. And that is what helps our clients start to answer the questions that begin with, 'How can we bring the right product or service to market.'

You don't have to take our word for it. Read what the analysts are saying.

In future installments of this blog I'll discuss how Drupal as a Digital Experience Platform can help you engage communities in conversations about their needs and interests and how your message about your product or service can be conveyed authentically. I'll also talk about how it supports critical established trends like omni channel marketing and commerce everywhere. We'll look at how you can use Drupal to flatten your business process and bring your sales team closer to customers.

For more on topics like this and other digital solutions take a look at FFW's special training programs that will give your organization the competitive edge it needs to compete.