Guest View: Converting eCommerce challenges into business differentiators

Lee Field, Head of IT Consulting, Asia-Pacific, Verizon Terremark

"Time-to-market" comprises everything from being aware of current trends or carrying sufficient stock of in-demand products to being able to sell and distribute these products before competitors.

Applied to eCommerce, where trends, products, and customers move at the speed of light, this concept also includes a merchant's software and hardware capability to allow potential customers to quickly and efficiently expedite product selection and purchase.

According to a recent SumAll Traffic research on Web site traffic patterns[5], customers are spending less and less time on merchant Web sites: about 2 minutes and 49 seconds on average, down from 3 minutes and 16 seconds in 2008. This means both vendors and products have an even narrower window to leave a convincing first impression.

This sense of urgency is also present in online merchants' capability to acquire, process, and deliver merchandise across borders. The faster a customer selects and pays for a product, the faster the purchase is expected to be delivered, no matter where the product or the merchant is located.

As noted in an APEC report on supply chain connectivity in the region[6], eCommerce is completely transforming traditional supply chain processes into complex and integrated "soft infrastructure" frameworks that effectively dismantle old-fashioned barriers to transnational commerce. Modern supply chains now focus on meeting customer demand and predicting trends and preferences to optimize time-to-market. In other words, online merchants' capability to remain timely and competitive does not necessarily have to be done at the expense of meeting customers' demand for new products and services.

The problem is, a number of new market dynamics make it difficult to launch and implement initiatives to reduce time-to-market. According to an Amdocs survey on time-to-market trends[7], these dynamics include:

  • Customer expectations of simultaneous availability of products or services online or via mobile, delivered with an experience more valued than a visit to a physical retail store. Designing, creating, and launching value-added and cross-platform applications complicates operations and can extend time-to-market.
  • Modernization must be done without disrupting existing business models. Adapting to changing eCommerce practices should not compromise the company's history or brand.
  • Balancing modernization and technology investment for future growth with the need for immediate revenue and long-term profit.

These challenges illustrate exactly why customizable, scalable, and integrated eCommerce solutions are necessary. They allow online merchants to leverage cloud computing, optimize application acceleration, and deploy a smooth Web experience that ensures processes are in place to organically accelerate time-to-market and sustainably increase sales.

In the world of Internet-speed, time really is money. Especially when time-to-market has a direct impact on brand image, customer loyalty, and bottom-line.

3.       Overcoming geographical limitations

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