Mobile might be in the forefront of everyone’s mind, but just catering for it could easily steer a business into a dead end. What is actually required is a ‘commerce-anywhere’ strategy.
A commerce-anywhere strategy will allow an online business to enable commerce on any internet device without spending lots of time and money every time a new internet-enabled device emerges.
The secret is to stop worrying about online, offline, mobile, and tablets and understand that your business is operating in a virtual world spanning all these outlets. Terms such as multichannel, omnichannel, agile commerce, cross-channel and so on don’t matter. What matters is yourself, the service and the products you offer to customers.
New devices and gadgets are just another way of accessing the very same information that is already being provided on your website. They might expose holes in your data or integration issues that need improving, but the device does not change your core business. Once you have mastered the process of fulfilling a telephone order, you’ve also mastered how to fulfill the same order placed over a mobile, tablet, internet-enabled TV set, washing machine, or any other device you can think of.
Why squabble about investing in mobile or tablet interfaces when your commerce-anywhere strategy allows you to apply it across any channel? Many retailers have already added new customer touch points to their mix, first in person, then stores, then by phone, then print catalogue. Internet browsers, mobiles and tablets are just extensions of this list. What has changed dramatically is the speed at which it happens. This has exposed some flaws in the way companies have scaled their business in the sense of a physical presence in front of the customer. It is inefficient to copy processes, data, stock, and personnel repeatedly just because a new device has shown up.
Resist the temptation to spin into overdrive and anxiously come up with a quick solution for enabling a transaction or interaction with the new gadget. Once you have embraced the internet as a virtual room that extends everywhere and into everything, your processes should accommodate this type of change.
Here is an easy, six-step checklist to consider when devising your commerce-anywhere strategy:
- Does your business processes work in a virtual world where access to data and processes is possible from virtually everywhere?
- Do these processes work across channel boundaries?
- Do you have a system that can deliver data to all these end points from a centralised hub?
- Can you fail fast and move on? It’s mobile today, is the business agile enough to deal with whatever tomorrow brings?
- Do you have a system that gives non-developers, ie. graphic designers the ability to create an interface to a new device?
- Do you have an incentive policy that encourages employees from different channels to work together and not against each other?