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How to assess your organization's commerce maturity

  • Posted on February 27, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
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Meeting the needs of the modern customer

A brand that is mature in their commerce business should be able to identify, meet and ultimately exceed what their customer is looking to do now, and in the future. Many brands already have the ability to meet this need. Other brands may have some work to do in this area.  

An organization’s commerce business can address the needs of today’s savvy customer and address their fundamental requirements. They allow customers to:

“Shop when I want”: enabling customers to shop in real-time whether they are actually in a store, sitting at home, or at the beach, etc. They can, for example, help customers see how much “stock” is left in real-time on any channel just as they would in a store shelf, access their order status in real- time and get timely updates of arrival, regardless of time of day or day of week. Organizations want customers to know that their preferred channel to shop is always available.

“Shop where I want”: where customers can shop on any channel they prefer, to seamlessly shift from channel to channel throughout their journey and to have business and technology processes to support the complete journey.  They allow customers to experience each stage of shopping, from browsing to placing an order, to managing their order seamlessly regardless of channel.

“Shop however I want”: empowering customers to define their own experience, from paying however they want, to managing and fulfilling their order on their own terms and convenience, not the brand’s.

“Shop in my 24x7 always-on always connected world”: allowing customers to interact with the brand to shop any time they wish on any day. This includes shopping on their own, reaching out for help or assistance with the shopping experience and expecting such help in real time just as they would in a physical store during the day, accessing generated content to assist in their shopping such as ratings and reviews, and having this experience apply at all stages. 

“Shop where I’m understood”:  offering the infrastructure, the business, the expertise, the technology and the savvy to gather deep customer insights and to hyper-personalize the entire journey to suit each particular customer. These organizations can use advanced analytics and technology (and AI) to even predict what the customer wants before they know they even want it.

 

Designing a maturity model for commerce

Commerce maturity assesses the readiness of a brand to meet the ever-growing savviness and expectations of today’s commerce customer. It assesses the organization’s ability to meet the fundamental needs of today’s customer to shop where they are understood, when they want, where they want, however they want in a 24x7 always-on always connected world.  This ability is assessed as “commerce maturity”.

Like digital maturity, we can assess the level of commerce maturity within an organization. It too is a gradual process and does not happen overnight.

To help clients understand where they are today and how to get to where they want to be tomorrow, I’ve designed a model assessing maturity of a commerce business in an organization, and such maturity can fit into four distinct levels: the commerce features, the readiness of the organization to evolve its maturity, what commerce means to the brand, and how well they are getting to know their customer. All four elements are assessed in the commerce maturity assessment process.

Labelling these as the four main levels of commerce maturity:

  1. “Retain” – early-stage commerce where the organization is reactive and focused on sustaining the current needs of the customer. Typically such organizations still call their business “E-Commerce” or their “E-Commerce site”.
  2. “Radiate” – where the commerce journey is expanded, and the organization is beginning to know the customer through quick personalization wins.
  3. “Insight” – a level of maturity where the organization is getting to know customer segments based on insights and can over more dynamic personalization across channels.
  4. “Mature” – mature commerce organizations already know the customer at a hyper-focused level and tailor their experience to meet their needs on any channel.

 

Components used in the model

Assessment of commerce maturity comprises of these functional, technical and business verticals, for an integrated and holistic view of its implementation.

Business components:

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Tech/Functional components:

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Below is our commerce maturity model ladder. It looks similar to Sitecore’s Digital Maturity Model, and is based on the same logic, where each component of commerce evolves as maturity increases. Each function mentioned is a trait of that step in maturity. Many functions being present in a commerce implementation or business of a particular level is a good indicator that the organization itself is at that level.

commerce-maturity-graphic-three 

Evaluating commerce maturity in priority areas

Part of assessing commerce maturity is the evaluation of these priority areas. Some commerce components at an organization may be at a different “level” of maturity than other components, so it’s helpful to prioritize the areas of maturity and rate them accordingly:

Brand focus: How does the brand feel with respect to commerce? Is it transaction-centric? Is the commerce experience simply seen as “E-Commerce”? How much buy-in is there with C-suite and key stakeholders? (I have seen firsthand from organizations developing their commerce maturity where the brand views the commerce store as competition to the physical store) How seamless is the transition from channel to channel? How valuable are customer insights across channels?

Reasons for commerce: What is the organization getting from commerce? Are they getting deep and rich customer insights through the journey? Are they simply using past purchases to personalize? Is the term “users” used a lot in the organization when referring to customers? Or are commerce customers considered no different than those who only shop offline in a physical store? Do they know their customer so well that they intelligently anticipate what the customer wants before they actually want it?

Maturity readiness: Is there a team dedicated to each commerce vertical (i.e. Payments, Orders, Fulfillment, Shopping, Merchandising, etc)? Does hiring need to happen to close any gaps on this team? Do new business processes need to be created across all verticals?

These functional, business and technical components can also be drilled down and assessed for maturity at a granular level. Some examples of this below.

Shop

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Checkout

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Order Management

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Start delivering better commerce experiences

Mature commerce organizations have business processes in place to support upstream and downstream commerce processes from strategy, to business design, to content strategy, to the customer journey starting with rendering the site, to the logistics of delivery. Assessing where an organization sits on the commerce maturity model is a critical first step to help define that path to maturity.

Not sure where your organization sits on the commerce maturity model, or how to take the next step in its evolution? Connect with Avanade to get started.

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