Why Brands Should Cross the Commerce Chasm

April 20, 2023 | Jon Reily

Brands and retailers increasingly need to thrive in a world where people no longer “go shopping,” but instead are always shopping. It’s no longer just enough for a company to have a commerce experience, they must continually be solving problems for their customers.

Most brands can sell things, since obviously, we’re all buying things every day. It’s a small hill to climb, to be able to sell your products. However, the difference between being reactive versus being proactive is a huge mountain for companies to climb. I call this the Commerce Chasm, where brands become good enough to sell, but not great enough to grow.


Tech Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle

Historically, B2B, D2C, and B2C brands have taken a Big Hairy Audacious Goal approach to creating a digital commerce experience, regardless of the customer audience. They all push the big commerce platform rock uphill and hope for acceleration on the way down. You might have lived through this before—the idea that a new platform will solve all of our woes. You may have heard phrases like: “Once these integrations are live…”  or worse, “We just need to duct tape our POS inventory manager to the website…” 

When it comes to commerce, brands and retailers too often play catchup and chase new competitor widgets and features. We’re always bailing out a leaky boat. That will not drive success any longer. What has worked in the past will not work tomorrow (or even today). As demographics continue to shift and new consumers with radically different ideas of “traditional commerce” tip the scales into the majority (think Buy Now Pay Later, social commerce, etc.), retailers are being put on their heels; and brands even more so.

We know from recent research that top companies aren't investing in digital innovation just to beat the competition. Instead, they invest to improve time to market, launch new business models, and foster agility and innovation.

Co-Innovation Partnerships Drive Digital Transformation Success
A Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned by Bounteous

As we move to address the Commerce Chasm, retailers and brands need to be focused on aligning data, talent, tech, and methods to make that shift to forward thinking. It’s not about beating the competition as much as it’s about being better at what you do.

Moving to a Forward Thinking Mindset

Your company can probably tell us what has happened recently, but not what is going to happen next, and that's a huge difference. This intelligence must be fostered to accurately deliver personalized messages and experiences to customers.

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It might take more than product, or a single solution. It’s a combination of your tools and processes working together to not only deliver an excellent experience, but to feed the strategic planning cycle by predicting what will happen next.

Our approach to helping customers with digital commerce is centered in Co-Innovation. Digital Flow is a secret sauce for commerce, because it focuses on Test & Learn to accelerate a flywheel approach to innovation. Companies don’t just need a new cart widget or a design facelift to succeed, they need committed strategic partners to co-pilot and deliver on long-term visions.

Once we adopt this mindset, we can rethink concepts like Loyalty. We have to rethink how Loyalty works inside of a brand experience. Here’s a quick use case from a recent client project:

A gulf-region luxury retailer approached us and said “We’re the largest luxury retailer in the region, but we want to be better. We want to scale to new regions and expand what works, and we want to empower our teams to deliver results”.  By learning how their business succeeds today, I was excited to empower them to test and learn with the goal of building an accelerating flywheel that produces insights and results in repetition, over and over again. 

This relationship is growing by leaps and bounds. Further questions like “How do we tackle omnichannel commerce?” and “Could we reimagine our loyalty program?”  followed. Now that we’re leveraging co-innovation concepts focused on partnership, the brand can better meet the needs of their customer partners as well. That’s the secret: learn now and treat customers as partners. It’s a huge opportunity for the companies who can envision new ways of delighting customers. Companies who wait or timidly approach the downturn will be left behind. 

Crossing The Commerce Chasm

To make significant progress, companies must first diagnose their current state and envision big goals. Aligning data, tech, talent, and methods with your strategic partners is now table stakes. Crossing the chasm while holding hands with a long-term partner makes the leap a lot less scary.