I wasn’t surprised to see just how packed #Shoptalk was this year. The eCommerce space is clearly heating up; last year the crowd was half this size. I’m guessing that next year, the crowd will be twice what it was in 2018.
In the classic Gartner “Hype Cycle” chart, we’re somewhere between the “Trough of Disillusionment” and the “Slope of Enlightenment,” and with that, brands’ needs for tools have changed dramatically.
A few years back, when we were all working our way up the “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” point solutions made sense. You bought discreet tools for: price reporting, listings management, digital asset management for storing images, another system (or combination of systems) for managing product content, and so on...
Technology was viewed not as a strategic advantage for brands, but as something new and, in many cases, painful to learn and use. But new tech was aggressively upending the “old” ways of doing business.
During this time, Amazon, the “Technology Trigger” that kicked off the retail disruption, continually applied more and more technology to the challenge of bringing traditional retail online. Amazon relentlessly drove efficiencies in cost, supply chain, delivery, and (perhaps in a nod to Walmart) pushed more and more of the day-to-day work onto suppliers.
Smart brands quickly realized that if they wanted to compete in an era driven by technology more than industry knowledge, they would need technology platforms to help them compete. If you want to remain competitive in an era driven by algorithms and data, you need your own machine to help you do it.
For a few years: those point solutions got the job done. Then, as brands started to exit the “Trough of Disillusionment” and make their way up the “Slope of Enlightenment,” those enlightened brands realized they needed platforms that would automate their entire eCommerce workflow.
If they stuck with point solutions, they would never break down the silos that were holding back their organizations or develop holistic merchandising strategies that fused pricing, promotion, search optimization, product content, and advertising.
What’s more, with point solutions, brands could never improve workflow efficiencies. If they used one system to check price issues, then had to go to another system to deal with content, another to upload and store product images, and yet another system to push those images live on retail partner websites: they would never master the time management efficacy that is so critical in the eCommerce age.
Today, as we climb the “Slope of Enlightenment,” enlightened brands know they need a single platform for managing the entire eCommerce ecosystem. Without an end-to-end solution, they risk introducing more of those discreet silos rather than streamlining already complex workflows.
If the huge turnout at #Shoptalk 2018 taught us anything, it’s that more upstart brands, more third party sellers, and more activity in general is coming. With those entrants also comes more streamlined workflows that allow aggressive, organized, tactical brands to make decisions better and faster than the competition. In retail, the technology race is fully in gear.
See you all at #Shoptalk 2019.
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