What will really matter for e-commerce in 2017? Machine learning, personalisation, mobile: there are so many exciting things happening right now that it can be hard to narrow it all down to a handful of trends or developments.
I’m constantly talking to our client base to learn more about the questions and challenges they face every day. Based on these conversations, I’ve selected the three trends that I think will have the biggest impact on e-commerce in 2017.
The Continued Rise of Cloud-Based Technology
SaaS is nothing new, of course. Salesforce has offered cloud-based sales support and CRM systems for years, and you can see that companies like Microsoft and SAP are responding. Take the release of Dynamics 365, for instance.
This makes sense: it’s what people are used to. Gone are the days when we waited around for a new update release and installed it manually at the hosting centre. Today, we expect our updates to be downloaded and installed automatically – and they are.
Just as B2C companies like Amazon are shaping the expectations for B2B web stores, programmes like Netflix and Spotify are shaping the expectations for ERP systems. More and more, users expect constant access to the latest features.
The impact this can have is pretty incredible. Always having access to the latest software version will help companies ensure their systems remain secure. More than that, though, it means their software landscape won’t hold them back from offering competitive products, superior services, and a great customer experience.
We do realise that this won’t work for all organizations, though. The challenge that integrated solutions face is keeping up with these developments while also providing the right support for enterprises that prefer to stick to on-premises ERP solutions for the foreseeable future.
Maximizing Performance With Big Data and Machine Learning
Our clients are always looking for ways to improve sales, and we feel that there’s still a lot to be won from big data.
Here at Sana, we already took the first steps towards using large data sets to improve the online buying experience in our 9.1 release. Our predictive ordering feature analyses a client’s order history in order to make smart suggestions for the next order.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a lot of really valuable information available in public datasets. The possibilities are really exciting: imagine using machine learning to determine the impact of the weather on purchasing trend, or finding out how buying behaviour differs per demographic. Knowing whether there’s a specific brand preference among professional buyers in a certain area could really help vendors optimise their sales and provide a more enjoyable personalised buying experience for their clients.
A More Diverse IT Landscape
Finally, something we’ve noticed and expect to increase is the diversification of the IT landscape.
When we first launched Sana a few years back, ERPs were monolithic systems that were supposed to house all company processes. They were huge and comprehensive: your one-stop-shop for business logic and data.
Now things are changing. More specialised systems are on the rise. No one thinks twice about using a separate CRM tool to support sales processes, and chances are that if you don’t use a PIM tool yourself, you know someone who does. Maybe you even have a marketing automation system.
This approach works thanks to the seamless integration between the different sepcialised systems. It’s something we’ve been aware of for quite a while now, as ERP integration is the foundation of our e-commerce solution.
I believe the only real change is that instead of focusing on one large system, successful solutions have to be flexible enough to fit into a more diverse IT ecosystem. This will allow them to provide the best possible integration and performance, and to deliver the best possible customer experience.