The Future of Commerce is All About Data

Today, more than half (56%) of customers say that businesses treat them like a number. That’s because an overwhelming amount of data, new channels, and siloed workflows can lead to customer experiences that feel disjointed and impersonal. If the last few years were a period of unprecedented expansion, the future of commerce is about bringing cohesion and harmony to all that new growth. 

To thrive in 2023 and beyond, businesses will need to create a more seamless journey, complete with hyperpersonalized and intelligent shopping moments that make customers feel deeply understood. The right tools and strategies will help you build trust and loyalty by showing customers that you can anticipate their needs. It all comes down to customer data and how you harness it to deliver shopping experiences that feel like magic. Here’s what the future of commerce will look like — and the major role that real-time data will play.

How has commerce changed over the last year?

You’ve probably heard this one before, but it bears repeating: inflation, supply chain issues, and a labor shortage have rocked the commerce market in 2022. But through all the change and challenges, the importance of customer relationships remains. Ultimately, customer satisfaction is always the main goal. That’s why commerce professionals overwhelmingly named “deepening customer relationships” as a top priority in 2022

To tackle new challenges and keep customer satisfaction front-and-center, leaders are focusing on two things: streamlining operations to reduce costs and improving the customer experience to win loyalty. This means tightening up order management, automating repetitive and tedious processes, adding new payment methods and revenue sources, and scaling personalization. The key to all of this? Real-time data. Up-to-the-minute information about your customers and business operations gives you a competitive edge for the future because it can be turned into insights as soon as it’s collected.

The future of commerce is multichannel. Today, customers turn to an average of nine different channels to communicate with companies.

With real-time data at your fingertips, you can efficiently track and manage all your operational processes, and respond to business needs as they arise. Real-time data is especially useful when it comes to differentiating your user experience. With an in-the-moment view of your customer, you can instantly update messaging, send pertinent offers, and draw shoppers’ attention to all the right products to increase conversions. 

Say hello to (more) new channels

The future of commerce is multichannel. Today, customers turn to an average of nine different channels to communicate with companies. A customer can discover new products on social media, read reviews in an app, add items to their cart on desktop, and check out on mobile. New channels crop up often and are adopted faster than ever. The metaverse, TikTok, and social shopping — channels that have only recently joined the ecommerce ecosystem — have quickly gained momentum as valuable parts of the customer experience. 

Businesses are also turning to marketplace technology to build resilient channels that can help weather the storms of inflation and supply chain issues. In simple terms, a digital marketplace allows multiple businesses to sell related offerings under one digital roof (think Amazon Marketplace or Etsy). For businesses, this emerging channel has the power to quickly expand your product catalog, diversify revenue streams, and reduce supply chain risk. For customers, marketplaces offer a wide range of choices, the ability to quickly price shop, and hyperpersonalized experiences. That’s why more than one-third of commerce professionals — across industries and business sizes — are prioritizing building their own marketplaces. 

To stay relevant and visible, companies need to expand into these new channels and engage with customers wherever they shop. But creating seamless shopping experiences across so many different touchpoints can be tricky. As new orders and customer profiles roll in from social, web apps, and your digital storefront, the customer journey can start to feel disconnected. The solution? You guessed it: data. 

Digital commerce is in a continuous evolution. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s just how quickly things can change.

To harmonize the information flowing in from every channel, funnel it to one unified platform that serves as a single source of information. This ensures that the right ecommerce data fuels consistent, personalized, relevant experiences across all your touchpoints. Ultimately, this will allow you to deliver intelligent commerce across every channel and create VIP shopping moments for every customer, at scale. 

The future of commerce will focus on both customer and employee experiences 

Customer expectations aren’t the only ones rising — employee expectations are, too. Amid a continuing labor shortage, it’s critical to invest in tools and technology that improve both the customer and employee experience. Many companies are already investing in tools like headless commerce and store associate apps to improve employee workflows. 

By separating your front end (the user experience) from your back end (your business logic), headless commerce allows IT, merchandising, and marketing teams to move faster. Traditionally, making changes to a digital storefront could take weeks or months. With headless, it can happen in hours or days. That’s why 59% of companies plan to implement headless commerce by 2024. Now, teams can easily implement storefront changes based on all those real-time data insights in the form of timely promotions, hyperrelevant featured products, and pertinent messaging. Headless helps make sure teams are agile and equipped to deliver stellar results. 

Make this the centerpiece of your strategy

Digital commerce is in a continuous evolution. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s just how quickly things can change. In the midst of it all, businesses that find success are those that prioritize agility. They test. They optimize. They iterate. And then they do it all over again. This is possible only with the right data strategies and a customer-first mindset. 

Increasingly stringent data regulations and the new era of a cookieless internet are imminently approaching. Businesses need to move fast and make sure they have a sound data strategy today.

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