All the dramatic global change that’s occurred this year has shined a spotlight on the pressure businesses are under to deliver unified and seamless digital experiences.
It’s not enough to engage customers in stores or on your website anymore. That is why brands are now seeking ways to extend their relationships with customers and bridge the gap between how they manage everything from marketing automation to site building to online commerce. An outstanding example of two leading digital agencies that have embraced a unified digital vision are Digital Echidna and Northern Commerce, who recently announced they were forming a joint agency to expand their reach and continue to help brands deliver world-class digital experiences.
As an established expert in the Drupal and web development space, Digital Echidna has partnered with Acquia for nearly eight years. They have a significant number of Drupal Grandmasters on their team and a diverse range of digital experience specialists in everything from multisite management to hosting to front-end design. By combining with Northern Commerce, a leader in omnichannel retail and e-commerce strategy, Digital Echidna is more committed than ever to helping provide a fully realized and connected digital experience to their clients. We recently sat down with Pat Gilbert, Channel Partner Manager at Digital Echidna, and Corey Dubeau, VP of Marketing at Northern Commerce, to discuss their vision for the future of digital transformation and how they’re helping organizations across every industry scale their services and grow their overall value.
Embracing a Digital-First Mindset
Recently, Digital Echidna and Acquia worked together to launch the public site and educational portal for one of the largest insurance agencies in North America. The client’s internal IT team was tasked with building a program accreditation portal with a very large budget and long time line. In a matter of a few months, Digital Echidna’s team was able to complete the project on Drupal 8 and Acquia Cloud for a fraction of the projected budget. They also documented all of their processes for implementing the new system to ensure the portal aligned with the client’s high quality and security standards.
Pat sees Acquia’s open approach to digital experience as a huge opportunity for digital agencies going forward as it allows them to extend their offerings to a broad number of services, implementations and technical capabilities. “For large projects like this, using a flexible, scalable content framework like Drupal made it easier for us to roll out a solution quickly and iterate moving forward,” said Pat. “The days of a monolithic proprietary CMS build are behind us. Arming teams with better, more flexible tools for building digital experiences allows us to expand our digital experience strategies and help our clients expedite their digital transformation,” he said.
Even industries that haven’t regularly focused on e-commerce or engaging audiences primarily on the web are now experiencing a shift where they realize they must embrace digital as a key pillar of their offerings. “We’ve had many conversations with clients in the education space who now want to adapt the experiences they’ve offered for years in physical classrooms to a digital realm,” said Corey. Higher education institutions are now embracing the same digital transformation mindset that commercial brands have been in the last decade by investing in learning management platforms that can help them create a unified experience to cater to students who will not be on campus in the fall.
Pat and Corey also cited food and beverage brands as another area that has been quick to adapt their business strategy to meet customer demand for digital services. “Before, places like breweries were so focused on the importance of a physical brand location and atmosphere. They wanted to draw people into their specific location and resisted selling certain products directly to the consumer,” explained Pat. “But now with the pandemic and the change in customer expectations, these businesses are forced to evolve or they risk shutting down for good.” This has spurred a massive change where organizations are seeking out new channels and methods to deliver their products conveniently and maintain those existing personal relationships with their audiences.
Building Customization From a Center of Truth
Digital Echidna and Northern Commerce saw a clear example of this rapid digital acceleration with their client, Andrew Peller Limited, one of the largest wine and spirit providers in Canada. Within just 30 days, they completed a robust e-commerce implementation for their direct to consumer channels. “Accomplishing this big of a digital overhaul so quickly required seamless integrations between multiple independent systems,” explained Corey. “We believe in helping clients take a phased approach where they can build the custom features they need on top of a scalable and secure platform,” he said.
Both Northern Commerce and Digital Echidna believe in starting each project from a strong foundation of customer data, such as a CDP, that acts as the source of truth to inform their future goals and direction. Delivering a personalization strategy depends on layering different customer preferences, behavioral data and demographic information and then rolling out those personalized experiences across different content types and channels. This freedom to be open to change and customize the customer experience as time goes on is part of Digital Echidna’s belief in the “Create Once, Publish Everywhere” philosophy where content management can be deployed across multiple channels and devices to align with where each customer wants to access it. As both agencies continue to invest in digital transformation, they’re focused on empowering brands to choose the best-of-breed solutions they need to shape exceptional user experiences.
For a further look at how Acquia and our partners work together to deliver long-term customer value, check out our recent blog post.