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A Shopping Cart is Not an eCommerce Solution

"Cross-posted from Blink Reaction"

I have seen the future of eCommerce, and the future is good, but only for some people.

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.

Questions

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. Or 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, Stupid.

      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 like this simple smart observation in Forbes by Melissa Pitts.

      And in case you've forgotten or never read it, remember your Cluetrain, it 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.

      Right, but shopping carts don't manage content and they certainly don't spark communities or conversations.

      So why do so many eRetailers rely so heavily on this old concept of doing business online?

      I have no clue. But I do know they will be the butt of jokes soon enough.

      Repeat after me: A Shopping Cart is Not an eCommerce Solution.

      If you and your organization understand this critical concept then the future of eCommerce could be bright for you too.

      Truly Flexible eCommerce

      A true eCommerce solution helps you answer lots of these market questions and more.

      The truth is most eCommerce 'solutions' are just shopping carts with a few bells and whistles and that simply isn't good enough anymore. Especially when the frills alone can cost you upwards of $15K per year just to access. Standalone shopping carts just don't deliver.

      At Blink Reaction we work with Drupal extensively. We started working with it because it was a great CMS. I sometimes refer to it as a CCMS, a Content and Community Management System because it is so strong in supporting blended groups of users - online and offline.

      We continue to work with Drupal and invest in its future because it's more than just a great CCMS, it's a powerful framework that 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. And that is what helps us start to answer the questions that begin with, 'How can we bring the right product or service...'

      And so we are particularly excited to be partnering with Commerce Guys, whose leadership has been in the forefront of eCommerce and Drupal for many years. Both our organizations have a longstanding partnership with Acquia, so we'll continue to bring the best open source hosting and network services to our clients.

      In future installments of this blog I'll discuss how Drupal and Drupal Commerce 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 critical new trends like omni channel marketing and commerce everywhere. We'll look at how you can use Drupal and Drupal Commerce to flatten your business process, bring your sales team closer to customers and even strengthen your supply chain planning.

Case Study
The commerce challenges of luxury brands aren’t particularly unique, they just happen to address these challenges while wearing Prada.

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